How I learned to stop worrying and love the Kindle

Monday, January 17th 2011

I’ve ranted before on multiple occasions about my issues with the current state of the commercial ebook setup.

Then I got a Kindle for Christmas.

I haven’t quite done a 180, but after truly giving the Amazon ebook ecosystem a fair chance I’m more willing to highlight the positives of the experience.

Like Sarah, I feel like a bit of a library traitor in admitting all this. But, things I really like about my Kindle:

  • Portability. A Kindle is much lighter than most hardcover novels. It’s also much easier to read on the bus, where I often have to stand. I can read the Kindle with one hand, and keep myself upright with the other.
  • Cross-device sync. if I have a few minutes to kill while waiting in line, I read a few pages of a book on my phone. When I get back to the Kindle, it knows where I left off. if I need to do serious work with a book, I move to my PC. It all just works, pretty seamlessly. I wish the sync feature was more robust than a simple ‘furthest page read’ notion, and that I could sync non-Amazon content across devices in the same way. But it’s still very handy.
  • Note-taking & highlighting. For reading non-fiction, a Kindle is invaluable. I’ve never been one to scribble margin notes as I read, mostly because I know I’ll never go back and find them all later. But the Kindle puts all notes & highlights in a centralized, web-accessible location. For serious non-fiction this adds real utility to a book that paper copies simply can’t provide. It helps in fiction too. I find myself highlighting the quotes I really like, and now they’ll be much easier to track down in the future.

These are all things that move a book beyond paper. I think I may have been too hung up on the things that Amazon’s ebooks take away from a purchased print title – loanability to friends (Amazon’s new title loan feature is so crippled that it’s useless), library use (nonexistent), resale (nonexistent), etc. While those are still issues (in some cases major ones), I haven’t previously focused enough on the extra features Amazon adds to a purchased title.

I still adamantly refuse to pay more for an ebook title than the print version, and I’ll keep that stance until the issues I listed above are addressed. But I’m now ok with paying a price equal to the print title’s. I’m giving some features up, but also gaining others in exchange. Features which greatly enhance the way I consume text.

The issue of ebooks and libraries is a larger one, which I’m more and more pessimistic about, and a topic for another time (libraryrenewal.org did recently restore a bit of my hope). But as a reader, if not a librarian, I’ve learned to love the experience the Kindle provides. I guess the title of this post is a bit of a lie – I didn’t really stop worrying, but I now worry a little less.

17. January 2011 by Chad Haefele
Categories: eBooks, Libraries/Info Sci, Ramblings, Reviews, Tech | 1 comment

One Comment

  1. Thanks for sharing, Chad. I had a similar transition due to my Nook. It’s interesting how many librarians *as readers* end up really liking their ereader devices, despite all the philosophical problems.

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