Wednesday, August 5, 2009

But Where Are The Pages? Some Thoughts on the Kindle & the Impending Apocalypse


This is my Kindle. Its name is Giles (yes, named after that Giles).

First, a bit of background information. I have loved books for the majority of my life (ever since I muddled out how the alphabet worked at a young age). I have read ebooks for about five years now, off-and-on. The platforms on which I have read ebooks are the Palm Zire 71 (what a great PDA that was!), my computer, and this summer, my iPod Touch. None of those reading experiences are comparable to the Kindle, as I will explain.

Most people have one of two reactions to the Kindle: 1) That's amazing! How cool! OR 2) What have you done and why do you want to invoke the end times? There's a sense of outrage, as if by purchasing a dedicated ebook reader, I wish to burn the rain forest and oh yeah, burn the Library of Alexandria again. That is errant nonsense. My commitment to the written word (no matter the manifestation) is why I purchased a Kindle. How can I resist a device that allows me to carry a library wherever I go?

Reading on a Kindle is neither like reading on a computer nor on a PDA. Computers and PDAs and iPhones are light-emitting devices; read on one for a while and then experience that fabulous sinus-shattering feeling from staring at a screen too long. The Kindle's display is electronic ink: that's why it works beautifully in direct sunlight and why reading it at night requires a light source. There's no glare, no dim reflection of your face (and glasses) on the screen. In short, it looks just like paper.

But neither is it like reading the fancy, leather-bound edition of your favourite book. The Kindle doesn't have gilded edges or a ribbon bookmark or a hand-cut bookplate in the front with your name on it. It does have the magic of always remembering your place in the book; the convenience of a built-in dictionary; the charming screensaver images of famous authors and the occasional woodcut or medieval manuscript image when the screen goes to sleep; and the ease of downloading books wirelessly from the internet.


One of the delights about the Kindle is that is does only one thing well: reading. The web browser is amusing to use, as if an abacus had ambitions to become a TI-83 Plus. It's fine for a quick Wikipedia search, but I'd much rather browse the web from my iPod or laptop. The best function on the Kindle is reading itself, not mobile web browsing, but the act of turning (electronic) pages. Such simplicity encourages healthy, productive unitasking, as others have noted. If the web browser were better, I would be tempted to go back and forth from email to books to blogs to websites. As it is, I easily become engrossed whatever text I am reading.

Not everyone loves the Kindle. That's fine with me. And I have my own issues with the device, above all the utter lack of shelves or folders to organize books. However, for now, it's an amazing solution that allows me to carry many books with me everywhere, and that's a wonder to behold.

5 comments:

REMIXED TV said...

hi, sorry, i'm sure this isn't the place to ask tis, but i can't seem to find an email... in regards to the the mrs. lovett gloves you posted on ravely, there is a stitch that you've written as

k1, k2tog, k2tog, [k2tog, yo] until last five stitches, ssk, skk, k1

i'm confused by the skk stitch, is this a mistype?

Caroline said...

Yes, it's a typo! Skk should be ssk. I'm sorry for the confusion. I would edit the pattern myself, but I didn't post it. I've emailed the original poster to no avail.

REMIXED TV said...

thank you so much for the quick response... i thought it was a typo, but i thought i'd ask first... :)

Cameron said...

Um, hello. It's Cameron, your adoring sister. And I miss your blog updates. You're far away at school and I need to know about your life. Mmmmk, thanks. Love, Me

tiffany said...

now I want one!!

Caro.... how do I get your blog on my google reader?? Also, where is my google reader again? I miss having you next to me to show me how technology works :(