I was a voracious reader as a child and even through middle school until high school (aka sex & alcohol) took over my lizard brain. As an adult I found movies to be a great story substitute and my reading habits almost disappeared entirely. The writer in me struggled during these dry periods without any real sustenance to keep my creative muscles healthy. When I decided to bring back writing as a priority I knew I’d have to dive into books with the same hunger I once had in my childhood.
Being an IT consultant made book reading more difficult than usual. My infatuation with dead trees limited how much I could read while traveling. I’d sometimes stuff a paperback into my laptop bag, but if the book only came in hardcover, forget it. If I wanted more variety I couldn’t justify the extra weight (my work bag was already loaded with tons of cables and gadgets). This meant that the most I could read in a one week trip was ONE book even though I could easily knock out a book in a day or two. With all the hassle I’d often forego a book entirely. Reading on any kind of LCD screen was no better and would kill my eyes. I stare at LCDs all day long for work, so the last thing I wanted to do is stare at them when I’m supposed to be relaxing. If I absolutely had to read something lengthy off of my computer I’d either print it out or skip it altogether.
This was my dilemma, how could I devour books at a breakneck speed if I could only bring along one paperback at a time? My desire to consume more words along with my travel restrictions were what finally drove me to join the e-reader club. We all have different reasons for making certain decisions, but I wanted to share mine and show how a rabid bibliophile could morph into a fanatical Kindle user.
Weight & Size
Throwing a paperback into my laptop bag meant more weight on my shoulders and less space for other essentials. This made a second book out of the question and the first one hard to justify. With the Kindle’s slim profile I was able to slip it into an unobtrusive pocket which made almost no difference in the amount of space I had in my bag. The weight is roughly the same, so it was a wash on that front. No matter how many books I carried in the Kindle, my bag never weighed any heavier or suffered from a lack of room. It allowed me the depth of reading material I always wanted. This convenience alone was one of the top selling points for me.
Oftentimes as readers we get stuck in our familiar genres or trapped in the wake of our favorite authors. This typically isn’t a problem until you hit the wall of sameness that every genre has or you’ve read the author’s entire bibliography. Access to the online Kindle store through 3G–because let’s face it folks, you can never find a Wi-Fi signal when you need one—opened up a whole library of titles for me to choose from. I could dip my toes in different genres without incurring any cost by downloading samples (the first couple of chapters) of almost any book. There were even free titles I could consume completely. If you’re an Amazon Prime member, which I am, then you have the ability to check out one book a month from participating publishers. It may sound limited, but the selection has been pretty good so far. You could even send documents to your Kindle for reading on the device. I read through several manuscripts this way and not only was it easy, but I was able to write my notes directly into the doc thru the Kindle.
Ease of Use
There is a HUGE difference between LCD screens and E-Ink screens. The glare and eyestrain associated with LCD are nonexistent with E-Ink. If I were to put a paperback and my Kindle side by side, you’d be hard pressed to notice any difference in reading quality. I’ve sat on planes right next to folks using a tablet or phone to read their books and every time it has reaffirmed my decision to go with a Kindle. No matter how long I’d used mine (sometimes hours at a time) it never hurt my eyes in any way. Also, the touch interface made reading a breeze. No more broken spines to worry about or cramped hands from trying to keep the spines immaculate. A simple tap here or there navigated through the book, highlighted a phrase or brought up a definition for a word. This was a smooth combination of technology and tradition.
When I ordered the Kindle I also picked up a leather cover with a built-in LED reading light. The cover didn’t arrive until a couple of days after the Kindle which I had been using naked in the meantime. Putting the cover on the Kindle added something to the reading experience that I didn’t know I was missing. Opening and closing the cover to read the Kindle replicated the same feeling I had opening and closing a nice leather bound book. I hadn’t realized how important this simple tactile sensation was. Suddenly, my Kindle experience brought me back to when I used to read my father’s Franklin Mint leather bound classics under the covers with a flashlight, something I hadn’t thought of in years. That unexpected gem made me fall in love with the device.
I’ve read more books since receiving my Kindle than I have in all of last year. That goes to show not only that the Kindle was a solid purchase, but how badly books have been missing from my life. Armed with my shiny new Kindle I have high hopes for the year ahead.