First a disclaimer: I have been hesitant to launch into e-readers in any way since their inception. E-readers remove that intoxicating smell of ink from the reading experience, as well as the ability to dog-ear the corners in a way that makes you feel like a fourth grade rebel. You can’t rip off the half of the crappy novel you’ve finished reading and hand it to your cousin while you’re on vacation and you may not be able to open a novel ten years later and see your old comments in the margins. And even worse, you will never be able to open a used book and read someone else’s margin notes, which is one of the best perks about reading used books, besides the cheap price.
After spending a significant amount off time last Fall working on an iPad for a project, I started noticing how big and bulky my previously thought to be sleek and light laptop was beginning to feel. And when the Kindle Fire was announced, I was thrilled by its price point as well as it’s smaller size, because really, even though everyone raves about the iPad’s size, it seriously felt pretty maxi to me. Beautiful, but large. And hard to hold in bed, which is where I wanted to find myself browsing when I had the free time.
And then, I got a Kindle Fire from my husband for Chanuka. It was the best present I’ve received since the blue Schwin was delivered to our front door when I was eleven. I loved the clean and simple packaging (and yes, I often buy wine on that basis, too) and the fact that there were no instructions encouraged me to just plug it in and go. And it did.
Since set up syncs with your Amazon account, every e-book I’d ever bought from Amazon with the futile hope of reading it on the bus ride home from work on my laptop was instantly loaded onto my Kindle. My first night’s reading was set up for me and I spent the evening reading whitepapers and articles I’d downloaded for a future moment when I had time.
The next day I downloaded some apps. Mainly Twitter, Words with Friends, and AmazonFresh. But on the Kindle, they were easy and fun and addicting and well, I’ll never really get over the pleasure of ordering groceries from bed in the middle of the night when I suddenly remember we’re out of milk and I was supposed to supply snack for soccer. And its paperback size is just lovely and easy to hold.
And then I rediscovered the Kindle services. I browsed through the store and saw that I could download free books on a borrowed basis. Free? Books? Seriously? I instantly downloaded the new Jeffery Eugenides book that I’d been waiting to come out into paperback. Me? Even though I’m cheap, I didn’t have to wait.
And then I saw the short story selections. 99 cents for a short story? Count me in. I made myself an espresso and browsed the titles in a way I haven’t been able to since my first kid was born. I lost myself in book samples and saved the titles I wanted to read in the future. I read the reviews and added my own opinions. And I found myself sending titles to people I thought would be interested in them.
Yes, it was a bit disarming how easy it was to purchase and how little I had to do to access my Amazon account. And my son, who received the basic Kindle, was informed that he had to be incredibly careful with that aspect of the technology. Anyone who accessed my reader could charge up a storm fairly easily, though I’m assuming in future iterations Amazon will address this issue.
Regardless, I was back in the book store. It was heady and freeing and exciting.
Later, I went back to look up a coat I’d seen a few weeks back to see if it was on sale yet and started browsing the store site. They didn’t have a dedicated android or tablet app and the experience was only just a bit more gratifying than browsing on my Windows 7 Phone. Not a rich or exceedingly pleasing experience at all–just functional.
But that’s okay. Because for that, the iPad is a better experience. It’s rich and luxurious, they way a shopping experience has the potential to be.
The Kindle, it’s a reader. Which is awesome. It’s what I want it to be because it brought my bookstores back to this busy working mother.
As for my printed books? I’m not ready to give up on them yet. Maybe they’ll go back to being the luxury items they once were. A reason to save trees, but much more accessible than they used to be.
Though nobody should ever have to be deprived of that amazing smell of fresh book.