Roger L. Simon

Preliminary Thoughts from a two Kindle Household

As some may recall, I bought Sheryl a Kindle for her birthday this year, just before the new version came out (typical of me). So to make it up to her – and so I could have one for myself – we purchased a Kindle II for Sheryl and I took over her Kindle I, reregistering it in my name. The new one arrived the other day and it’s obvious the Kindle 2 is better, especially in the important area of page advancement. Nevertheless, I have been ploughing through Amity Shlaes’ The Forgotten Man on my Kindle I and am already a convert. (I know – beware the convert, but read on.)

Reasons? Let’s start with that other important area: book-shelving. It’s almost a given that every time you either buy, or have built, new bookshelves, they are not enough. Like gases in Boyle’s Law (well, sort of), books expand to the space given them – and then spill over. I’ve been dealing with this all of my life. Many of us have. And, yes, I love the feeling/texture of hardback books and enjoy seeing them in my home/office, particularly those written by friends and family (even ex-friends). I even enjoy the clutter in certain ways, but enough is enough. I need some relief.

And then there’s the other obvious matter of portability. For the frequent traveler, as I seem to be these days, these gizmos are a dream, particularly since we are already carrying laptops, cameras, iPods, cellphones and who knows what? Do you really want to lug two or three hardbacks, or even paperbacks, if they still exist, as well on a medium or lengthy trip? Amazon keeps a library of your Kindle books online for you, accessible everywhere. [Boy, you do sound like a convert.-ed]

So with the Kindle along and in hand, my suspicion is we read more. In this techno world, we are used to interacting with electronic devices and almost feel guilty if we don’t (having spent the money). It’s a ‘use it or lose it’ kind of thing. Also, in our increasingly frenetic lives, devices of this nature help us get in more spontaneous reading time. (Remember the distant vision of sitting under a tree with a book? O, les beaux jours. Now I whip out a Kindle or an iPhone on a supermarket line.).

But here’s something interesting: My Kindle is linked to my iPhone via Amazon’s Whispernet. They keep up with each other and I don’t lose my place anywhere near as often as I do with regular books. (My mother told me long ago not to dog-ear pages.) But I have noticed that it is often better to read on the iPhone. Although the screen is about one-half the size of the Kindle, it is brighter and works well in almost all situations. The Kindle needs better illumination, at least for my eyes. (I will have to check the Kindle 2 on this.)

Whatever the case, I am now convinced the future of books is to a large degree electronic. Blacklisting Myself will be on the Kindle soon and I am looking into how to get the Moses Wine series on. More on that shortly.