Sunday, July 17, 2011

My Kindle Lifestyle

I just looked back and realized that I've read almost nothing this month.  If you don't count comics, I appear to have literally not finished a single book.  I'm bowled over by this, but I think it's because I spent a good week at the beginning of the month breaking in my Kindle.

"Breaking it in" consisted of reading a lot of sample chapters, researching sources for free ebooks, and trying to pick what I was going to read next based on what I had at  my fingertips in this glorious new format.  Unfortunately, the timing of the whole situation has rendered my rather thrilling pile of newly acquired Paperback Swap books somewhat obsolete.  It's putting a lot of my borrowed books on the back burner, too, and I'll have to spring into action there a little bit, since I should return some stuff to Emily on vacation next month, and I should get The Pirates! in an Adventure with Communists back to Kris before the new Pirates movie comes out.

But instead, I'm loitering around my Kindle.  So, now that the dust has settled, here's the update on What It's Like.  First, the size and shape are perfect, and I can't say I miss the feel of a book.  It's really comfortable to wield and easier to manage on the bus.  This is a bit of a weird aside, but I have a very slight handicap when it comes to holding paper books open, in that I can't bend my thumbs independently of my fingers.  It's a weird little foible, and the only things I actually can't do are the Girl Scout Salute and that trick with the disappearing thumb.  But it does mean that holding a book open is sometimes less than graceful for me in a weird position (lying on my back with a book above me, standing on a crowded bus), and the Kindle is much better for that.

The page flicker is really annoying when you're demoing it at a store, but you entirely cease to notice it after less than ten minutes, so don't let that get to you.  And the interface is very intuitive, easy to get started on.  My remote control is more baffling to me three years into my relationship with it than the Kindle was after half an hour. 

What do I miss?  Well, ease of paging back through is a big one.  I've always had a real knack for finding the right page when I'm leafing through a book--finding my place without a bookmark, finding that scene where that guy said something that totally foreshadowed the ending, finding the one place where they mentioned that character's name.  I'm good at that, but the slowness of the electronic page turns makes it really impractical to flip back.  There's a chapter navigation, which helps when you have to, but it's still mostly not worth it.  The device does hold your place, though, so bookmarks aren't an issue. 

The thing I really miss being able to do easily is flip back to the map in the preface; I'm reading two books where that might have been helpful, so it's coming up a lot.  It's easier to jump right to the preface and back to your spot, but it's still several clicks, not nearly as fast and effortless as flipping a page.

Something that surprised me by changing so quickly was my relationship with the library.  I went from 60 to 0, as it were, regarding my involvement in my library queue, overnight.  I have not checked out a book, have barely looked at the website (except the ebooks section!), have not updated my queue or thought about library books.  This is a huge change for me.  I poke around at the library site like other people do Facebook--every couple of hours, I check something out, see if there's any movement.  Not so since the new Kindle. 

Something that surprised me by not changing at all is my tendency to read many books at once.  I have about 30 books on there now, but I'm actively reading three at once.  It's great for that, of course, since I can switch from one book to another while I'm on the bus.  The Wise Man's Fear has a lot of tense scenes, and Angelica has lots of slow bits, so I find myself jumping back and forth between them very often.  I'm neither feeling stuck to one book, nor am I unable to settle down into a limited number.  I do think this will affect my ability to pick the next book to read, though--without the Pile, or cover art, or blurbs, it'll be much harder to choose from the list of what might come next.  That's part of the reason this month was so slow--I had a hard time settling.

So far, the Kindle is a huge success around here.  I think, writing this post, that the device might need a proper name--Bessie leaps to mind, but I'm sure there's something more sleek, sophisticated, and wittily literary I can name it, so we'll see what I come up with.  But just retyping "the Kindle" this many times in the post has been somewhere between awkward and silly.

I will have to tear myself away from it, though.  I have that pile of books waiting for me.  Really, it's a box and four piles.  If I'm honest, it's a year's worth of books.  It makes me nervous just to think about, but what a really lovely problem to have.

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