Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Ode to the Kindle

My brothers and sister-in-law visited recently. Seeing them was fantastic enough, but they also brought the best presents ever. I've gotten used to the fact that since my son was born, the presents he gets are more exciting than the ones I get. But not this time!

My youngest brother brought me a copy of The Blythes Are Quoted, L.M Montgomery's ninth "Anne book." I've loved the Anne of Avonlea series since I was a girl, had noted the publication of the book with much interest, and written it off as something that I would get to read when I finally make it back to the US some day. Observant kid brother had noticed a Facebook conversation I had about it with some friends, and brought it along. Clever fella. Haven't started reading it yet, because I need to finish the novel I'm already reading, first, and I want to savour the Montgomery (cue joke about savouring Montgomery, when everyone knows they only make sweets).

My other younger brother and his wife, brought me, among other things, a Kindle.

I had wanted one because I have accumulated a great deal of electronic reading material in connection with my never-ending thesis, and when I start reading on my computer, my eyes get tired relatively quickly, plus I am more likely to be distracted and give in to all the many charms that lurk in the computer. So I had figured an ebook reader would allow me to single-task with greater concentration. It was a utilitarian desire.

The surprise is just how much I love it. It's the perfect combination of my love of tech and my love of books. The cover makes it look and feel like a leather-bound book or journal. This is a big part of the charm, because I still feel like I'm reading a real book. The other cool thing (and anyone who is familiar with ebook readers already knows this, but I hadn't seen one in real life before) is that the screen really looks pretty much like a page, rather than an electronic screen. I had read that e-ink technology did this, but I hadn't realized how good it was until I actually saw it. My biggest objection to the whole idea of e-books had been that you couldn't snuggle up in an armchair with them, the way you would a real book. But this is totally possible. And as I said, the cover is critical to the illusion.

Now you can't flip pages back and forth, and it's black and white, so colour illustrations are no good, but the novels and non-fiction I read are mostly text, anyway, so that's not a problem for me.

I'm still getting to know the gadget. But there are other little things that thrill me about it, too. The cover has a built in light. You pull out this little strip, and a light on it's end comes on. The light is powered by the Kindle itself, presumably from the metal anchor points where the device slots on to the cover. When you're done reading, or don't need the light, the strip slides back in, leaving you with what looks like any nice leatherbound journal.

The biggest delight, the one that gives me a little girlish thrill every time I see it is that when you switch it off, an image displays itself on the screen. Most are pictures of authors, but there are some nice line drawings, too. And even when the reader is off, the image remains displayed. No blank screen. It gives me back that feeling of magic that cool new technology used to provide. Like the first time I saw computers communicating via infrared, or my brother controlled my computer in Lahore from all the way over in Michigan. I have yet to cycle through all the images, so that's another delight. I don't know what the next image will be, and they're all images I've enjoyed, so far.

So, from ebook skeptic to convert, in the space of three days. I'm not giving up my print library, though. That would still be heresy.

1 comment:

Maria Stahl said...

That's fun. I have never actually seen one, and didn't know about the bookish cover. Clever Amazon people!

(I bet it doesn't smell like a book, though.)

Nice to see you blogging. :)