Friday, December 18, 2009

I should name my Kindle...

I'm having a little bit of trouble falling asleep tonight* so I figure I should entertain a request of Blakspring, who asked me about my experience using a Kindle. As I mentioned in my previous post, my uncle and his girlfriend gave it to me as birthday gift, and I was pretty excited about it. The first thing I read on it was Stardust, and one immediate observation was how... the lack of pages really affects my reading experience. It seems an obvious lack ("What? A Kindle doesn't have pages?") but I honestly did not factor that in when I started the first chapter of Stardust.

If you are like me, you anticipate the turning of the page by holding it between your two fingers. I found myself unconsciously doing that and feeling nothing. Instead, when I first started using it, I had to keep looking down at the "Next Page" button before pressing it. It was not an automatic action.

Once I got the hang of it however, I was just clicking through the pages. It's not hard for your brain to get used to and I can see why there might be many converts out there. You can also highlight a passage, or make a note in your reading by using the typing area. Then later, if you want to go back to that passage, you can go to My Notes, and just click through it until you finally get to the passage you crave to remember.

The other fantastically convenient thing is the Kindle shop, which you can access from your "hand-held device." (When I was reading the instruction manual for the Kindle, those words kept reappearing, which I found kinda funny because 10 years ago, a "hand-held device" was a euphemism for the new-fangled cellular phone.) You can subscribe to newspapers and magazines on it. I didn't, but I wondered if there can be colored pictures if I do subscribe to it. As far as I have been able to tell, everything that appears on my Kindle is black-and-white.

This reminds me of something I read, possibly from Jess and Josh (but I'm just going off memory here), about how if The New York Times bought every one of their subscribers a Kindle, and their readers started getting their news electronically transferred to them, the company could save a fortune on not printing millions of copies everyday, and probably avoid all the layoffs and buyouts we see announced in the paper.

If we are fast approaching a time when we would have to seriously consider giving up on certain items for the sake of the environment, I sincerely hope (very selfishly, I must point out) that it will be a long time til newspapers meet their demise. I love the feel of paper in my hands. All that stuff the old-fashions say about feeling more connected to the news/story is true: As stupid as it sounds, the inability to flip through pages to get to a certain part of the book, and instead having to click click click click to that part, makes it harder for me to feel like those words I'm reading – the story that I am absorbing – is something that should be remembered. Imagine clicking through a PDF document to find a certain piece of information. Does that feel like you are reliving your experience of having read that document?

This could all very well be nostalgia speaking. I don't want you to think that I dislike using it – I get really excited when I find a book worthy of purchase on the Kindle. But I have definitely narrowed my Kindle-reading to books that I hope that I would really like (Stardust, Heat Wave) but that I don't really care if I love yet. When I decide that I love those books, I will buy them in book form.

One more super cool thing about the Kindle: Whenever it goes to power save, a portrait of a famous author will appear. So far, I've had Virginia Wolf, Ralph Ellison (he comes on a lot), Jules Verne, Jane Austen, and John Steinbeck. Probably more, but those are the ones that I remember. Steinbeck has only appeared once so far (we can't choose, unfortunately. If we could, I would choose to have Ellison taken off the sleep screen) and I got so excited about him that I didn't want to "wake" it. Maybe I should name my Kindle Cal, just to psychically encourage it to go to the Steinbeck screen saver.

*I am currently reading a novel about a serial killer in New York in the 1800s and it is so, so interesting and keeping me up with its gruesome facts.


Jen K said...

I agree with you on Ellison - the transcendentalists all just bored me to tears.

Jen K said...

Wow, I'm an ediot, I was thinking of Emerson.

denesteak said...

Emerson is not a favorite either.

blakspring said...

i totally agree about remembering the first time you read a book, and liking the feel of paper and flipping pages. e-book readers seem handy as a back-up, and would be great for textbooks, especially in college. but i don't want to curl up with my kindle on the couch - lol.
are you reading the alienist? i hope you are b/c that book is amazing!!!

denesteak said...

I am!!! and it is! I love it so far (I am a quarter way through it.) Usually I get impatient with books that are too descript-y but it's just SO interesting! Also... OLDIE NEW YORK!

and, good morning!