I purchased an Amazon Kindle just nine days ago and have already completed two novels. For me, this is a notable achievement. I hate to admit it but I, until very recently, was one of those people that puzzled over others’ passion for fiction. I read a great deal of non-fiction online, but books of all kinds have never taken me in like they have others. I won’t make excuses as many do, saying that school ruined my passion for books. Endless analysis of Shakespearean prose didn’t faze me as much as others, but I simply never caught the reading bug.
I can remember reading only a handful of fiction books in my teenage years, few of them worth a mention.
So, I hope I’ve made it clear how much of a feat this really is! A success, for me, and for Amazon no doubt. The Kindle may have been just the low barrier I needed to get started on a passion that already burnt within.
The Kindle itself is lightweight, but not so thin that it feels delicate. Some things that may surprise you about the latest Kindle:
- It has a microsoft-sam-esque text-to-speech function which does become invaluable, especially when trying to figure out how the hell “recalcitrant” is pronounced!
- It can read any PDF. This morning I snapped a quick screenshot of Google Maps, saved it to a PDF, transferred it across, and voilà! I now have a portable map.
- Since it’s 3G enabled, and has an experimental browser installed (webkit), I can browse the internet in most of its glory. It’s grayscale and somewhat slow but who cares! This is meant to be an e-book reader after all; anything in addition to the basic set of e-book-reader features is a huge plus!
- It’s possible to jailbreak it and install your own screensavers, which are left on the screen when the device powers-off.
- It has a built in dictionary. This sounds like nothing impressive but when I’m puzzling over a word, mid-sentence, the last thing I will bother doing is digging out an actual dictionary.
- There are no pages to turn! Less fumbling with pages as you lie on your side and more time immersed in the world your book creates for you.
- The e-ink screen is as easy to read as an actual book (No glare, great contrast, etc.).
- You can play minesweeper!
Like everything that dares to inflict change, the Amazon Kindle is something that shouldn’t really be knocked until it’s tried. Don’t disregard e-books as a passing fad, and certainly don’t disregard the Kindle. Its awesome simplicity makes it disappear in your hands, just as it should: you’re not interfacing with a device; you’re reading a book.