Wednesday, 7 March 2012

A real books lover discovers that a Kindle improves marital harmony


I was sceptical when e-books first arrived. I have always read a lot and books are more than just something to read; they are an experience. Although we have very little space in our rental house I have a selection of my favourite books to hand. It makes it feel more like home.

Can this experience be matched by the modern reading devices like Kindles. I doubted it. But then the book buying process started to change. Walking into a book shop used to be a like walking into Willa Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, with new delights on every shelf. However, unless you walk into a really large book shop you now see the same titles on display.

There are sections for vampires, chick lit, detective, thriller, sci fi and true tales of abuse and the books in each genre all look the same. This is frustrating if you want to discover new authors and this is where Amazon has shattered the book-buying paradigm.

Their ‘long tail’ approach of stocking such a huge range of books allows me to follow a specific interest and find new authors and styles around a common theme – complete with reader reviews. I would not find these books in most book shops but in Amazon they are nearly always in stock and are delivered quickly for free.

Now with Kindle you can buy at low cost and receive the book instantly. But what is the reading experience like?

I took the plunge and asked for a Kindle for my 40th birthday. The first thing to notice is that a Kindle is a low-tech gadget. True it downloads books unfeasibly quickly and you will never lose your place again. However, for someone used to smart phone screen controls it seems very basic.

In many ways this is a good thing. The battery lasts forever, it is unfeasibly light and it’s easy to use. The screen is like Rachel Weisz, very easy on the eye, with no glare and you can store loads of books on it.

I lost my Kindle virginity with an ebook novel Righteous Exposure by A K James, a fellow writer I banter with on Twitter and I was soon speeding my way through it. Either it’s the fast-paced thriller style of the book or the format of the screen seems to encourage faster reading. It was an enjoyable experience let down only by not seeing the book cover. Mandy’s book has a fab cover but, unless I’m doing something wrong, you don’t see it once the ebook has been downloaded.

I will now be downloading the Kindle novels of my Twitter and Facebook friends, giving me access to low cost, good quality books that I can then discuss with the authors. Just as video didn’t kill the radio star I will still be buying some traditional books and I have about four of these in my to-read pile.

An unexpected bonus is the way I can cuddle up with my wife when I read it in bed. I usually read at night as there is no time during the day. As the Kindle is so light she can cuddle up and fall asleep on me without causing any page turning difficulties. Now I’m wondering why I didn’t turn to ebooks sooner!

4 comments:

  1. Thanks for the mention, Russ! I'm glad you weren't let down by losing your Kindle virginity to me, tee-hee! I'm also glad your wife can cuddle up to you at the same time...just hope she wasn't too jealous. :)

    And on a serious note, yes I think the cover issue is a problem. I often like to look back at a book's cover after reading a chapter or two. It does add to the experience I find.

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  2. Ahh, Kindle...

    The big benefit for me with Kindle is never having to take 10 books in the suitcase on holiday!

    Glad you're a convert. There is a place for both paper and e-books

    Debbie

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  3. Hi all
    You can see the cover with most Kindle books but only if you use the menu to 'Go to' the cover. If you simply select the book from your home page, it defaults, I think, to title page or first chapter. No idea if this can be changed but it is a bit annoying.
    Apologies if you know all this!
    Someone suggested to me that the screensaver should change to the cover of what's being read. Ace idea!
    Alo interviewed Mandy on my blog recently if you are interested.
    http://debutnovelist.wordpress.com/2012/03/06/mandy-james-on-writing-and-e-publishing/
    AliB

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  4. Thanks AliB, good to know but it is still a bit difficult to view the cover, especially compared to a 'real' book. Having the current book cover as the screensaver sounds an excellent idea!
    Russ

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