The Kindle

When the Kindle launched in the UK last September, I had one on pre-order. I quietly fretting for days about its purchase, feeling distracted with the guilt of it, and then cancelled it. But the urge never went away.

Here is the Kindle, in its cover, open. This is it in its sleep mode, it throws up random literary pictures which are rather nice.

I did lots of research into the Kindle. Canvassed my friends that had one. I was curious about just how much they seemed to love it, which seemed odd. I love books, especially picture books or ones you can dip in and out of. But I don’t read (didn’t read..) fiction, not since the heady days of going to Callosa D’Ensarria with my girly friends and devouring Jackie Collins in between tormenting the local boys.

I read loads, but just not fiction.

My best friend, Emma, regularly devours novels. She loses herself in them. I see people on the train lost in paperbacks, chunky as bricks. The odd time I have picked up a novel and managed to finish it, I’ve loved having this whole other world to escape to.

But I’m not what you might call, a natural novel-reader.

So what the fuck would be the point of me having a Kindle?

This was why I cancelled my order. But then, but then..

So I ordered one again and before I could cancel it, it arrived. And God, I love it.

It’s not an iPad. I mean, that’s obvious, but if you’re wondering “should I get an iPad or a Kindle”, you really haven’t understood the difference at all. The Kindle is rudimentary compared to the iPad, it’s nothing like it. Whereas the iPad is what it is – like the screen of your computer that you hold in your hand, and able to do more or less what your computer can do, the Kindle is an electronic reading device in black and, er, grey. You can read newspapers on it, but really, this doesn’t work (yet, I’m sure it will). You’re much better off reading newspapers n’ stuff on line, on a regular computer/laptop/iPad/iPhone type thingy.

Here’s a Kindle page. It’s not back-lit (like the iPad or a computer screen is, so easier on the eye).

So the Kindle is, really, for books. Word books. I can’t imagine anyone buying a cookery book for the Kindle, that would be really wrong I think. So the Kindle is not going to replace you having to buy any books, but if you read novels: great.

Here are some observations on it, some of them are obvious but heck, I’m gonna make them anyway:

  • You can store loads of books on it.
  • You can change the size of the font or spacing of lines – brilliant if you’re short-sighted.
  • No wastage. No ‘what do I do with this book now that it’s read’, although no lending to friends, either.
  • Not every book you will want is available as a Kindle version, yet.
  • Books that are out of copyright are free.
  • It’s not good for pictures, but great for older children – in fact I think its use for older children has been underplayed.
  • It has an inbuilt dictionary – which I find super useful, children will too.
  • You can make notes and see notes others have made.
  • It automatically notes what page you last read, no matter how many books you have on the go at once.
  • Although the ‘turnpage’ buttons are on the left and right, the up and down controls are bottom right, left handed people might find this frustrating (I don’t know, I’m right-handed). I’m thinking there should also be a LH version.
  • You can download various Kindle apps for your computer/phone and it all syncs so you can access your books anywhere, if you’re desperate. 
  • The battery lasts for weeks.

If you’re fairly wealthy, I think it’d make a great present to load up a Kindle with the sort of books you think your friend would like. The novelist and journalist India Knight did this for a friend (although to be completely accurate I think she loaded up her own Kindle) who was poorly, which I think is a great idea.

I wouldn’t, personally, get the 3GS version. Honestly how desperate do you have to be to get a book? Most places have Wi-Fi, so save your pennies. What I would spend money on is the official Kindle cover that Amazon does which is an EXTORTIONATE £50. But it’s fabulous. Leather and has an inbuilt light which is just great if you read at night (you can’t read the Kindle in the dark, it’s not back-lit like the Ipad is, which is also why it doesn’t give you eye-ache after a while).

Here’s the Kindle, in its cover (chocolate brown since you asked) with the inbuilt light. The actual light shining on the Kindle is actually from an overhead light so don’t be confused. The Kindle light is plenty sufficient to read by.

I’ve started reading voraciously (so anyone who wants to buy me a present: Amazon vouchers are a good idea) and I love having my Kindle to escape into on the train. Plus with the cover it looks more like a book so you don’t feel as much of a wanker on the Tube. It’s invaluable, for me, when I’m breastfeeding in the middle of the night/trying to get the baby to sleep, as I just don’t mind if she wants to feed for an hour, as I can just read read read.

The Kindle, all snug and safe in its cover, it has a rather nice elastic band fastening with tab, which you see above.

I love it…in a way that’s curious..

ps: I forgot to add, you can get sample pages from the Kindle store for free, so a try before you buy kinda thing.

17 thoughts on “The Kindle

  1. Helen Bartlett

    how do you find that odd thing it does when you turn pages where it kind of flashes as you? I think that would be really irritating but I am wondering if I am worrying about nothing

  2. Annalisa Barbieri

    Hello Helen, and thank you for your Q. Yes the Kindle "works using ink just like books and newspapers, but it displays the ink particles electronically. The page flash you see when you turn the page is part of the ink placement process".It really doesn't irritate me, I hardly notice it when I'm absorbed in a book, anymore that you notice the page turning on an actual book kinda-thing. But maybe see if you can get your hands on one to try out first?A xx

  3. Linda

    It seems to flash more in bright light, normally I simply don't notice it. It's easy to fixate on minor irritations but of course books have them too, like turning over two pages once, spilling coffee on the pages, paper cuts . . .neither system is perfect.

  4. Helen Bartlett

    that's good to know. I think I need to borrow one and see how I get on.Of course the other important question – what happens if you drop it in the bath? Ridiculous as it sounds as I do most of my reading in the bath that has always been a bit of a concern

  5. Catherine

    I'm with you all the way. I've read more fiction in the last month than I have in the last two years. This was partly because we were on holiday – and that's when the Kindle really came into its own. We took an iPad and the Kindle and used both – the iPad for checking emails, using the internet and the Kindle, well, just for reading. No problems at all reading in strong sunlight, also balanced handfree on my lap on sunlounger. Read so much needed to download more – no problem with hotel wifi – instant extra books with no worries about extra weight in luggage or no decent books to buy abroad. I'm completed hooked and now get annoyed when a publisher hasn't issued a Kindle version of something I want to read.

  6. Linda

    If you dropped a book in the bath it would of course be ruined, but replacing a kindle costs more than a book (though all the books you had bought would be unaffected, as long as you bought a new kindle, they'd just transfer straight over.) For me the reading in the bath issues dwindles next to the carrying a hardback book around in my bag on buses and tubes. Both books and kindles have their pros and cons.

  7. Amanda Craig

    I'm almost persuaded but nervous (as one who still hasn't mastered downloading photographs onto my computer) just how good at this stuff you need to be. Is it idiot-proof?

  8. Amanda Craig

    I'm almost persuaded but is it idiot-proof? I'm still hopeless at downloading phtographs from camera to computer,,,How long does it take to learn your way around?

  9. Annalisa Barbieri

    It really is Amanda. If you can do online shopping you can use the Kindle, once you've set it up, any purchases are made through Amazon (just like regular books) and automatically go to the Kindle.I also like how if I'm working on a piece and need a book I can have it in minutes rather than wait for it through the post/go to bookstore. (Of course, that's if the book is available on Kindle..).

  10. Linda

    It's incredibly easy, the easiest technology on the market today. If you buy it through amazon, it will already be linked to your mazon account. All you do is take it out of the box, follow the very brief instructions, enter your wifi password and you're done. You can either buy the books in the kindle itself or on amazon on your computer. As soon as you turn the wifi on, the books will download and be there in about two seconds.

  11. Rosalind Rosewarne

    I too am almost persuaded I saw one a friend had and as she also had an iPad was able o marvel at how light and small it was compared to the monster of an iPad! but still can I really get all the books I want and won't I be bereft with empty books shelves, bit like a person with no friends to speak of!On the plus side my handbag would weigh a ton less, can I download magazines onto it as well? (zinio)…no doubt if petrol stops going up I will be able to justify one before the year is out!

  12. Annalisa Barbieri

    Ros, you won't be able to get all the books you want, at least not yet. But your book shelf definitely won't be bereft of books – cookery books, gardening books, picture books…they will never be replaced by a Kindle. Well not as it stands..

  13. pierre l

    Apologies for the late comment — since I got my Kindle I don't seem to find time to read my favourite blogs.I would suggest that the 3G vs no-3G question depends on one's circumstances. I have a cabled network at home so no Wi-Fi and I rarely go to places with free Wi-Fi. My Kindle would be much harder to use without the 3G.I do love the cover with light though (mine is blue) — it feels much more like a book and I have trouble holding the machine without pressing buttons when it's out of the case.


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