Books. They decorate a room, which a solitary Kindle does not. But does the Kindle have a place in the book-lovers life? Can technology ever replace the pleasure of a holding a good book or a well-read paperback?
The Kindle is quick to turn on. There is no long boot-up time as we have become used to with computers. Instead you can be reading within a few seconds of pressing On. The last page you were reading appears so you can immediately start where you left off. Getting a completely new book takes a matter of moments. You can read a review on Saturday morning and be reading the book itself a minute later. You want a poem that you have suddenly remembered? bingo, a few clicks and it is yours. If you want to read an out-of-copyright classic then it will often be available completely free from outlets such as Project Gutenberg.
So far, so good. But there are downsides. You can’t just mark an passage you want to come back to with a pencil. You can make notes but the process is more convoluted and breaks up your reading. As there is no physical keyboard or touchscreen, to put information into the Kindle is laborious. You press a button to display a keyboard and then use left-right-up-down to move around the A-Z keyboard. If you are going to be inputting a lot of information I would recommend getting a version with a keyboard.
However, when it comes to reading the Kindle is very good. It remembers where you got to in each book that you read. You can have hundreds on the go at once and it won’t get confused. To move between pages you press buttons on the side of the device. These are the same on both sides so that you can hold it in either hand. When you turn the page the display flashes black momentarily as the new page is created. I found this off-putting at first however I soon got used to it and it is just the way that e-ink seems to work.
You can download different dictionaries which allow you to look up words in foreign language books. This helps immensely, as you can hover the cursor over words and an English translation will appear. This doesn’t always work as well as it should when I use. The dictionary I downloaded shows the first few words of the entry, and it can flash up information such as … verb, conjugation of X, present participle of X… rather than a simple meaning. Nevertheless this is a useful feature.
Where the Kindle comes into its own is when it comes to travelling. No longer do I have to decide which books to take and find I have a pile as heavy as all my clothes put together. No longer am I on the plane wishing I had brought a different selection. No longer am I carrying my hand-luggage wishing I hadn’t brought any. The Kindle weights less than 170 grammes and holds up to – get this – 1400 books. That’s more than most people need to take on holiday with them.
Of course a Kindle doesn’t look as good on the shelf as 1400 books, but then it takes up a lot less space than 1400 books. That can be good or bad depending on your view. The battery length is excellent. The electronic ink display is very light on power and can last up to one month on a single charge. It also has a rudimentary web browser which is time-consuming to use owing to the lack of keyboard
Conclusion If you need a book immediately and you are not standing in a bookshop or library then there is nothing better. Most importantly the Kindle is perfect for travelling. Of course it is nothing like reading a real book. But for those times when the content is more important than the overall experience the Kindle makes a good case for itself.