in eBooks, Libraries/Info Sci, Ramblings, Reviews, Tech

How I learned to stop worrying and love the Kindle

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 ( 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.