Tuesday, April 03, 2012

How I came to eat my words and love the Kindle

Image from Amazon.com

First of all, thank you so much to everyone who enters their Amazon shopping through the Amazon Widget on my sidebar.  This story could not have happened without you.

For years now I have mocked and scoffed at the Kindle.  I love real books... their feel, their scent, the way the pages turn yellow with age... I even love to read the signature on the inside cover of an old book, telling me the name of a previous owner.

A common statement the past few years to my technology loving friends and family was, "I know there are real books in the future because Jean Luc Picard falls asleep reading old books at night!".*

Last year I had enough Amazon credit after the Christmas Holiday season credits arrived to purchase a Kindle if I so wanted... I so didn't.  Oh, I admit that for a brief fleeting moment the thought crossed my mind but then I pondered what I could purchase with the credit and turned my back on technology.

But something happened this past year.  A few friends came to love their Kindle.  I began to notice how many classic books I've wanted to read were now available for e-readers... free.  That really does mean at no cost whatsoever!  Not to mention other books available for just a small amount of cash.

So... just in case I might (just might mind you) change my thinking, I started doing more research online and in real books about the pros and cons of e-readers.  One book in particular (which I will be writing about this week) actually helped me a great deal when the author shared why the Kindle had to be set aside for his reading.

Around the time my credit was due in, I was looking for a copy of Sir Gibby (which I am gong to read, Bonnie!) on Amazon and found it to be free for the Kindle... as were other books by George MacDonald.

As well as Chesterton, Andrew Murray, I. Lilias Trotter, Brother Lawrence, A. W. Tozer, Elizabeth Prentiss, Amy Carmichael, Jonathan Edwards, Grace Livingston Hill, L. M. Montgomery, Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Anthony Trollope, Elizabeth Gaskell, G. K. Chesterton, Gene Stratton-Porter, P. G. Wodehouse, Louisa May Alcott, Kenneth Grahame... and many, many, many more.

In my searching Amazon, I also found many free books about cooking, homemaking, gardening, and even homesteading in the past.  I'm especially interested in those written during WWI and WWII. These tend to be good although I've only had time to quickly peruse them with a promise to come back later with full attention.

Okay, I was sold... literally... and when the time came, I ordered the Kindle.  I ate my words.  I should learn never to say never.

The first few days after it arrived found me downloading free books and organizing them all into various "Collections" (what can I say, I started out in business as a secretary and filing is in my DNA).

I even spent some credit on more recent low cost Kindle books and I signed up for updates on free Kindle downloads.  I wanted to try it all (as I do tend to go in for things all or nothing).

After a month of being a Kindle owner what have I found?

Well, I am so glad I waited an extra year to do my homework because I knew what to expect.  Some books are fabulous on the Kindle (especially fiction, biography, and many other non-fiction books).  Others I found to be good are certain Bibles and devotionals, especially as I can click on the title and go immediately to the last page read.

I don't manage cookbooks well on the Kindle unless they have a fabulous Table of Contents (all the cookbooks I have downloaded were either free and a couple for 99 cents).   Any book that I needed to return to a previous section quite often was frustrating.  Otherwise, I have found no big challenges.

I do agree with the writer of the book I mentioned earlier (who wrote about why he set his Kindle aside for awhile)... you have to guard against e-reader ADHD.  He said he found himself switching from one book to another constantly and going on rabbit trails clicking on those options within a book.  It would be very easy to do that, especially with books that give those options.  (Another reason the free classics are at times better... they are simple.)

That's why I have warned Christopher (who is extremely ADHD) that if he wants an e-reader for just reading books, stick to the basic Kindles.  I know him... he distracts easily.  Anyway, he already owns an iPad (he designs Apps for smart phones, iPads, etc.).

So, since I had read his warnings already... I set up a Current Reading Collection on my Kindle.  In it I have only parked the book/s I am reading right now (besides the Bibles, devotionals, etc.).

With the Kindle you can keep each book within various Collections so it is made easy (for instance, both the Current Reading books were biographies so both could also be found in my Collection called Biography).

In this case, I was reading a biography of Jonathan Edwards and a biography of Francis Schaeffer at the same time... usually starting out with John Piper's book about Edwards which is rather deep at times and then switching to the Schaeffer biography which was written for young people and very easy to read.

By doing this on the Kindle, I was better able to read both at the same time and notice the similarities in these two men who are my two favorite giants of the faith... even though they lived 300 years apart.

Will an e-reader ever replace real books in my life?

Good gracious, no!  Just this past week I had to reorganize bookshelves again to hold more lovely old books.  I never turn on my Kindle and hug it to me and I'm certain the Kindle will never show water marks as my ancient copy of Hidden Art does... from reading it in the bathtub one too many times after small children had (finally) fallen asleep.

But I must admit, there is room for technology in the life of a Bibliophile.  This past week I slipped it into my purse when I was to meet Christopher at the McDonald's next to the Engineering Building on campus.  It gave me... options.

Recently I was reading the Kindle when Miss M. was visiting.  She looked over my way and said she would never want to own one.  I looked at her and told her she may want to be careful what she says.  ;)

*For those who do not share my passion for Star Trek, Jean Luc Picard is the captain of the Star Ship Enterprise in the "Star Trek the Next Generation" TV shows and movies.


Anonymous said...

Dear Brenda, you are not eating your words alone. I am sure there are many booklovers at the same feast. My hubby ignored my rant about "well I'll never have one of those" and bought one for himself. Needless to say once I got my paws on it he has never gotten it back,which I feel was the purpose to begin with. Now with over 200 free books on it and only two are his I eat those words frequently as he recites this to all who will listen. I think he now plans to get the Kindle Fire for himself. Will I be able to leave it alone? Happy to have you at the table with me. but I'll never give up a old book. Love the scent and feel

Manuela@A Cultivated Nest said...

I got a Kindle for Christmas (even though I didn't ask for one and didn't really want one). I've mostly used it to run Swagbucks TV (android app)because you can leave it unattended to get your points.

I've found it doesn't work for any type of book that I actually need to use for reference. Like I got a book for my new camera on my kindle and it's sooo hard to find anything. I'm thinking about buying the book - much easier to flip through etc.

I've found it great for fiction and even gardening and decorating books. So far the pictures are nice and clear.

The free books are great! It's also nice to instantly get a book.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for the input. I also said 'never' but am re-thinking that position. :) I do like options.


Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this very timely post..at least it is for me as I am planning on buying an e reader sometime this coming year. I too have been doing research and comparing the different e readers.

Are you aware there is a free download of Kindle for PC's so you can try it out on your computer before purchasing? B & N also offers a free download of Nook which I am also trying out. I might add the books I'm reading on them were free.
My hesitation is whether to go with Kindle or an Ipad. My hubby says (he's a manger in IT and is very techy!) go with the ipad as there is more you can do with it...I'm still pondering. No matter what I end up buying there will always be books I will buy in print, I like to hold my books! But as you pointed out the offering of free or very inexpensive books for e readers makes the e reader well worth the price. May God be with you, Marsha

Vee said...

One day last month I was waiting for John to be released to my care after surgery. We spouses were all assembled in the waiting room thumbing through tired magazines except for one gal with her Kindle. I hadn't seen one and curiosity got the best of me. I asked lots of questions. Pretty soon the entire waiting room was alight with conversation as books and how we read and what we read was discussed. Hers was a Kindle Fire and she said that she could do anything the new I-Pads could do for a lot less money...$200 compared to $500. I have wanted a Kindle ever since. Christmas is a long way away... Enjoy your Kindle and I believe that eating words can be pretty tasty.

Anonymous said...

We have two I-Pads. The one and the three. I think I-Pad has more you can do on it than the Kindle Fire but the proof would be on total comparison naturally. Maybe the reading part is better or the same but other computer applications would add more on the I-Pad? Like the one camera in the #2 I-Pad and the two cameras in the #3,+ other computer things. Anyway I am very grateful for your story today. I don't have a Kindle..yet! :) Also there is an app for the Kindle to be used on the I-Pad. I suppose Christopher knows about that! :) Actually at this point I do not use either I-Pad hubby does. I just sit there surrounded with Real books reading!! :) :) But...now you have me curious about the Kindle for sure! Sarah

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info Brenda. I've been thinking of getting a Kindle because the print in paperbacks seems to be getting a lot smaller lately :)

Deanna Rabe - Creekside Cottage Blog said...

I have been thinking about an e-reader - all those free books! I adore books and will always have the real things, but I think a Kindle or a Nook may be cool.


Deanna Rabe - Creekside Cottage Blog said...

PS - Tim and I are fans of TNG and I knew exactly what you were referring to in regard to Jean-Luc...


tpals said...

It's a slippery slope as first Kindles and now, Kindle Fires have invaded the family. I keep both on the table by my reading chair.

The Kindles really are the best for reading on because of the special screen that makes them easy on the eyes.

The Kindle Fire is the compromise for someone like me who refuses to have a smartphone and sees no need to be online everywhere I go, but is tempted by the magazines, shows and games of a tablet.

The perfect expression of my personality has my Fire hidden in a cover that looks just like an antique book. ;)

Anonymous said...

Okay since you have gone to the "dark side", which Kindle did you get? Just in case I decide to join you there. :o)

Nicole in MD

Peggy Lorenz said...

Oh my goodness...my daughter and I were just having this discussion this morning!! She just ordered a Kindle, and I am the one who said, "But I love REAL books!" Perhaps I will take a look at hers when it arrives, and, perhaps, I will become another convert. We shall see... ;)

Jane said...

I am one of those who didn't think they would like a Kindle and after getting one, loves it. I like the portability of it and the fact that it's lightweight. Great for reading in bed. Those are things to consider as I believe the Kindle Fire is heavier. I love that I can adjust the print size - no whipping out the reading glasses. One thing I've discovered is that you can download wirelessly with the Kindle, the Nooks you have to download through a computer, or so I've been told. I would find that a real con. I don't like cookbooks on it, but I am absolutely addicted to it and so is my daughter - who also got one for Christmas. We have just the basic models and they work just fine.

carla said...

Yesterday I attended a local book club for the first time. I'm 57 years old and there were only 3 people there that were younger than me (out of about 15). Over lunch they started talking about their Kindles and Notebooks and phone apps, etc. I turned to the woman next to me and said "I must be the least tech savvy person here." She said, oh, no and that she wasn't either. Only she and I didn't have a reader. I mentioned the age thing because these weren't young people and they were AVID.

I'm not as personally opposed to them as I was (they were showing us some pretty impressive stuff), but I just don't want any more technology in my life right now.
If I received one as a gift (which is not likely), I'd use it.

I'll bet you're having a lot of fun with it!

Anonymous said...

I got a Nook for my birthday 2 years ago - what finally sold me on the e-book is that it's great for travel. Last time I was on a long trip, I "only" packed 2 books, and my Nook, as opposed to my usual 12 or so books. I love getting free classics too - I found books that I'd read as a child (Prudence of the Parsonage, for instance) free, as well as sequels I didn't know existed.

I have a basic Nook, so it's just like reading a regular book - no way can I get super distracted, which I prefer.

-Connie in San Diego

Heather L. said...

This was very helpful -- because I have been so anti-kindle myself. Your thoughts make sense. Not sure if/when I would get one myself, but now I know why I would get one.

Amy said...

Amazon often has limited time offers on ebooks. I have gotten many free books this way.


Sunshine said...

My husband used his Christmas gift card and bought me a kindle, SO sweet, and I LOVE it. I never, ever thought I would use it either, but I absolutely LOVE it. Thanks for the list of some awesome ideas for authors to look for. Have a wonderful Easter and an amazing Passover. Sunshine

Kimberly said...

I wouldn't have bought one myself, but since I was given one--I love it! Since most everything I want to read is so old it's free-it works really well for me!
Plus, it makes Dickens a lot easier to haul around. Not that I'll get rid of my shelf of him, but it is nice to have on hand.