STEPHEN SMITH: An Update On Using The Kindle
So I've had my Kindle -- the handy Amazon.com device used to download any book you want anytime you want it -- for three weeks, and I've read seven books, each of which cost me $9.95.
I called up my credit card account on my computer, clicked on "activity," and there was the proof of my recent reading addiction. I'd run up a bill of, well, you do the math.
"Whoa," I said to myself, "I've got to cut back on my reading! This is getting expensive!"
So how do I like my Kindle after three weeks of constant use?
The answer is not as straightforward as you might imagine. My initial enthusiasm has waned slightly, although there's no denying the device is convenient for downloading books and performs as advertised. The Kindle is easy to read, and I've gotten used to holding the little machine in my hands, which is more difficult than you might imagine.
If you buy a Kindle, you'll soon discover that you can use the elastic band designed to keep the cover closed as a means of holding the Kindle inside the cover as you read. When I first began using the Kindle, I would read for a few minutes and the device would gradually slide out of its cover.
When I slipped it back in place, I'd inadvertently turn a page or two, which meant I had to back-page to find where I had stopped reading. This was darned irritating.
And after all, the Kindle is supposed to be convenient. Fumbling with the device isn't. So the elastic band is useful in a way that was not envisioned by the engineers at Amazon.com, or wherever the device is produced. China probably.
The major problem I've had with the device is completely my fault. You might think of the Kindle as a book, but it's still, regardless of the hype about the screen being paper, a computer, which means that there is a lot to know about operating it correctly. As with most of the computers I use, I learn just enough to get by. For example, I attempted to send and receive e-mails on the Kindle, but the process is way too complicated, and I quickly abandoned the Kindle as an e-mail device.
More importantly, there's a problem regarding the reading material that's available. Clyde Edgerton's latest novel, "The Bible Salesman," was published about two months ago, and it appeared on the Kindle only yesterday. And there are a lot of older books that simply aren't available. I assume they'll be listed as the Kindle site develops.
Here's another thing -- you can't download cookbooks and college textbooks with much success. A free flow of text is instantly available, but the Kindle can't handle formatting. So there are no photographs, illustrations, or complicated lists, at least in the books I've downloaded. And, of course, there is no color available, other than shades of gray, to break up the flow of text. It's unfortunate that textbooks aren't available. Academic publishers have been ripping off students for far too long.
Am I buying fewer hard copy books? I don't think so. Two of the books I've read on the Kindle, I've picked up in hard copy for my collection. I don't believe that bookstores need worry about Amazon.com cornering the market on reading material. There is, after all, no way an author can autograph a Kindle.
Contact Stephen Smith at email@example.com.
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