Come on baby, light my fire!

Kindle.

Mmm, hmm. You saw this coming, didn’t you …

My mother was brave devious kind enough to lend me her Kindle this week (actually, the past two weeks) so I could experience the joys of eReading. In its slim red case, it looked quite fascinating – more like a diary than a book. I opened the case and surveyed the image of Mark Twain on the screen.

“Slide and release the power switch to wake”, it urged.

I reached for the switch. Hrm, nope, not in the top right corner where my iTouch button is. Ha, not down the side, either. Not near the keys …

“Do you need some help?” I declined with an expletive.

Ha! On the bottom! Right, we have power!

“Your battery is running low, please recharge your Kindle.”

What? Oh … *blank* The screen died. I sighed and set it aside, picked up the printed copy of The Help that’s been waiting for me on my bedside table for quite a few weeks and read it cover-to-cover before I went to bed in the wee hours of the morning. Stupid Kindle.

It took me a week to get the darn thing charged by the time we found the charger (it hardly ever needs charging, apparently, so the charger was in some obscure place). I finally turned it on and decided to read The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. The Kindle accompanied me on the train every morning and every evening, and I must admit I felt a bit embarrassed sitting on the train, red leather cover splayed and grey Kindle blinking black every time I “turned the page”. Were people judging me? That cute guy reading an actual book, what did he think? Did he care? I judge Kindle users with a conceited sniff, surely now I’m being judged …

The anguish was almost unbearable.

But, from Monday to Thursday, I persevered. I read to and from work on the train, during my lunch hour, and before bed.

“Your battery is running low, please recharge your Kindle.”

Again?!

“The battery is supposed to last a month!” My mother protested.

“Evidently it can’t handle my reading habits!” I scowled darkly.

Fortunately, the battery survived long enough for me to finish The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks and to have a play and explore its features. I also read a few other things, determined to get a good, solid use out of it before making up my mind.

Here is what I didn’t like:

  • Damned if I could figure out the bookmark feature. How do I go back to the bookmark? Do I have to scroll through and find it or is there a special command that takes me straight to it? Ergh.
  • The little bar down the bottom telling me how far through the book I was – it made me feel pressured to race through and beat it.
  • The blinking-black to change pages freaked me out. I though I’d broken it the first time it did it.
  • Being bumped on the train terrified me. I had visions of the Kindle hurtling forth and smashing on the floor. I never panic when my book is bumped.
  • The power issue. You can’t just grab it and read if the battery isn’t charged. A mild inconvenience, but when I’m on a train and there’s nothing to read, my friends get bombarded with stream-of-conscious texts. It’s really best if I’m constantly entertained.
  • The buttons are too small for my fat and clumsy fingers.

Here is what I liked:

  • The size and weight were super convenient. Lots of books in one place! Joy!
  • The ease of downloading a new book when you’ve run out of stuff to read.
  • The idea of (haven’t actually done it) being able to upload quotes from what you’re reading onto Facebook. That’s pretty cool.
  • I actually didn’t mind the screen. It was easy to read from and I quite enjoyed the experience overall.
  • The ability to load a PDF onto it so I can read it from the screen. Much less glare than a computer screen so it’s easier for my old eyes to read.

I wouldn’t mind playing with some other eReaders, as I’m definitely starting to see the appeal! Any recommendations?

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7 comments on “Come on baby, light my fire!

  1. Hi Stef! I have just found your blog after seeing a comment of yours on Khyia Angel’s blog.
    Concerning the Kindle, thanks for the review. I was told by a man who does know about these things that the Kindle flashes between pages because it takes longer for the special e-Ink to reload. The e-Ink is what means the screen does not have to be backlit, like your computer screen or phone, and being non-backlit is what makes it less tiring on the eyes. The e-Ink also makes it not need charging for ages (!). I asked him when they might solve this, and he sadly said not any time soon. I really like the idea of a Kindle for similar reasons to you, Stef, but I don’t think I would get used to that flashing on and off each page, so for now I will leave it. Waterstones are bringing out another e-book reader soon in UK, so I am going to wait and see what that is like. Best Wishes with your deliberations!

    • Ah, that makes sense! It will be interesting to see what Waterstones brings out … Someone mentioned the Sony eReader is pretty awesome, too. Oh, decisions …

  2. Thanks for the review. I’ve been toying with the idea of buying a Kindle (or asking Santa for one for Christmas!). I heard about the flash when you turn the pages and watched it in action on YouTube. I’m told that eventually you don’t notice it, but it would freak me out too!

    Hmm *ponders Kindle purchase some more*

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