A week after I first got my Kindle, I phoned my buddy, Ro, and told him he had been replaced as my best friend. He was, touchingly, rather wounded and asked by whom. I said, my electronic reader.
I realise that those who are not converted to the joys of a Kindle will find this preposterous. To anyone who loves to read, it will sound perfectly plausible.
About half of my friends have Kindles and are, therefore, automatic converts. Of the rest, some are considering buying one (including Ro, who will no doubt replace me as his best friend shortly), while the remainder find the idea appalling and even sacrilegious.
I get it. I love books. I love how a hardcopy carries the history of all who have read it. Some of my greatest revelations have occurred when someone pressed their favourite paperback into my hand and urged me to read it. My most cherished pastime in the world is browsing through secondhand bookshops.
But as I’ve said, the joy of reading is not in the physical book itself but in the connection we feel with the writing. And that, sublimely, exists in whatever format we read it in.
‘I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.’ ― Groucho Marx
Before I list all the wondrous things about the Kindle, first let me do away with what’s not so great about it:
- It’s difficult to flip back and forth as easily as with a physical book, so it doesn’t work too well for things like recipes.
- It can be expensive as, unlike physical books, digital content cannot be sold on (excepting refunds on returns). However, an Amazon Prime membership does include a free monthly digital borrowing, and some libraries offer ebook lending.
- It doesn’t work well for art books because looking at the work on a small screen often doesn’t do it justice.
Here are 10 reasons to get a Kindle:
- No paper wastage and only a one-off transport/packaging cost.
- It’s compact, with the black-and-white versions having the capacity to hold over 1,000 books.
- Favourite passages can be highlighted, with the highlights saved in a separate document, which can also be transferred to a computer.
- Too lazy to consult a dictionary while reading? (I know I am.) On a Kindle, clicking on an unfamiliar word will bring up the definition at the bottom of the same page.
- The font size and serif, character and line spacing can all be adjusted to suit personal preference. (I get annoyed with anything resembling large print – it feels like I’m being SHOUTED AT – and love that I can make mine teeny tiny).
- There are hundreds of classics (as well as anything out of copyright) available for free from Amazon, Project Gutenberg and other sites.
- The days of being stuck somewhere without a good book or a decent book store are gone. Now a book can be downloaded in half a minute from anywhere in the world that gets a 3G or Wi-Fi signal.
- With the wireless off, the battery lasts from two weeks (with constant reading) to a month (if more sporadic) before recharging.
- They’re reasonably priced (Amazon is more interested in selling content).
- Unlike an iPad, the black-and-white Kindles (tablet versions are also available) are not backlit, allowing for hours of blissful reading without eye strain.
And speaking of the iPad, I like the fact that the Kindle is only a reader. When I switch it on, I’m not tempted to check my email, play games, or engage in other time-suckage activities. I know my phone is more talented than I am, so I rather like the Kindle’s simplicity.
Podcasts changed the way I listen to the radio. My iPod changed the way I listen to music and podcasts. BBC iPlayer (and the equivalent) changed the way I watch television, just as streaming on Netflix changed the way I watch films. Skype changed the way I speak to family and friends. And the Kindle has changed the way I read.
With each one of these, there was a hesitation at the start – how do I do this? Will it be confusing? Will it annoy me?
But, of course, they become integrated into the daily fabric very quickly. They have given my life ease and expanded my world. And so, I swoon.
Really, the decision to ‘jump’ is more tricky than the actual change. But we are adaptable creatures. It’s fun, beneficial and healthy to move with the times. Let’s swoon together.
‘From the moment I picked your book up until I laid it down, I convulsed with laughter. Someday I intend on reading it.’ ― Groucho Marx