Tuesday, May 3, 2011


Focus for this List: our sweet Mama and Papa Bear (my in-laws), gave us a Kindle for Christmas. This is not something I'd ever contemplated buying. So, this list isn't so much a tech review (I've not done any comparisons) as it is simply a list of things I've noticed while reading on the Kindle. 

1.  You can get new books faster, (and for cheaper!)
This is, in fact, the thing that first got me excited about using the Kindle. I could pay $16 for the hardcover version of Lois McMaster Bujold's newest Vorkosigan book, Cryoburn, which wasn't in our bookstores yet, OR I could buy it from Baen Books, spending only $6, and begin reading immediately. Who could refuse?!

The immediate gratification factor is huge.  (HUGE!  I was thrilled when I realized I could get Mark Van Name's newest book NOW ... and its copyright date is next August!!!). 

Still, I'm glad that the first book I tried to read was Cryoburn. It's by an author whom I love, and it's fast-paced and absorbing. Had I tried to read something less . . . gripping . . . I'm not sure I would have pushed past the discomfort of first reading on a machine rather than a book. 

2.  I can carry a library in my purse!
That statement alone tells me that the future has arrived.  I've read books on computers before (Thanks, David Drake, and Baen.com!).  That tired me out just because it tied me to my computer for hours upon hours. Reading on a Kindle still allows you the freedom to wander around and read while you microwave a snack. Best of all?  In this era of reduced baggage allowances on airplanes, decisions on which book to take with me are MUCH easier.  

3.  It takes some effort to get used to reading on an electronic device and little things may throw you.
Getting a cover helps, but it still feels weird -- like you're only reading one side of the page. Also, I've found that it just doesn't feel right unless I tuck my first finger of my right hand between the Kindle and the back of the cover. I had no idea that was such a firmly ingrained habit of mine!

4.  I miss turning pages.
Just today, finishing up my 5th book on the Kindle, I swiped at the screen as if to turn the page.  Accidentally turning the pages is a frequent problem. Interestingly, what I had thought would be the biggest deterrant to reading comfortably on the device, the flip from black text to white text as you turn the page, now escapes my attention (for the most part). One thing that helped was reducing the text size so that I'm not constantly having to deal with all of this. The human brain is amazing, and I mark my new comfort with this up to my fascination with Vorkosigan's adventures!

5.  It may help you stay focused.
Having a cover means that frequently when I'm done reading for the moment I just close the book and put it up, without turning it off (it shuts off automatically). To my occasional dismay, however, when I turn it back on, it opens right back up to where I left off, thus capturing my attention. Mind you, this meant that I was MUCH faster in finishing my re-read of a nonfiction book than I expected I would be. I'm still not sure if this is a good or a bad thing!

6.  I don't like reading anthologies, or collections of short-stories on this machine.
I like bouncing around and reading stories out of order, and that's a LOT harder to do on a Kindle.  Either that, or I've missed some trick of the technology.

7.  You can't judge the book by the cover . . .
. . . but then again, it's harder to do a good preview.  I'm still deciding if I like the fact that the Kindle automatically starts a new book on the first page of the story, rather than on the cover page / dedication page / copyright page / table of contents.  For the most part, I don't like it. As a reading teacher who spends time teaching folks how to set themselves up properly for a book by previewing it before getting lost in the story, I REALLY don't like it.  For myself, well, I'm patient enough to click the back button 10 times in order to get to the beginning.

7.2  People don't judge ME by the cover.
There Will Be Dragons (The Council War)Think about it, that bland black cover means that I can be reading ANYTHING and no one will ever know.  Mind you, this may reduce the number of odd conversations I have on airplanes. (Thanks, John Ringo. . . )

8.  There are so many ways in which electronic books just make good sense.
From an environmental standpoint, ebooks make sense. From a practical home-storage standpoint, ebooks make sense, and now, with Baen's help, from a financial standpoint, ebooks make sense.

9.  The big issue:
You can't sell your boring ebooks at the used book store when you decide you'd rather read something else.  You also can't lend them to a friend. That's disheartening.  For the price you're paying, it's also disgusting.

10.  Will the characters survive?
The biggest shock to reading on the Kindle? You lose the subliminal sense of where you are in the book, and how much time the author has left to either get everything resolved, or to kill everyone off.  Again, I'm not sure if this is ultimately a good or a bad thing. I've hated reading with the pages clutched in my right hand ever diminishing and feeling like I was racing the author to the end. I've hated knowing that an enjoyed idyll on another world was drawing inevitably to a close. That said, I finished Jennifer Crusie's newest book, Maybe This Time, and found myself not believing it was all over.  I'd lost track of how much time I had left with the characters. 

So, what do YOU think???
Which device to you read on?
What do you like best?
What do you like least?
What would you like to see most as a feature?
Have you been to Baen.com yet?  :)


  1. Okay, you and I have had this conversation, but for the sake of Prosperity, I'll re-hash it on here. :)

    I received an iPad for my birthday. I wasn't at all wanting one, but who can turn away that kind of gift! So, I started playing with it, and I found the eBook reader. I decided to give it a shot, so I went to the iBooks store and started "surfing the shelves". My first thought was that this was a pain because, unlike at any given bookstore, you had to search for specific titles / authors / or categories. I realized VERY quickly that categories are much more specific than my little brain thinks because I had a VERY hard time finding anything that I wanted to read. Finally, however, I found one, so I downloaded it, and I began to read through it. A few days later, I boarded a plane headed for Lubbock Texas from Boston (which turned out to be an extraordinarily long flight between two stops and one layover). It was then that I really began to enjoy it, because, like you, I was able to bring a couple of books with me without taking up my entire carry-on.

    When I finished the books I had bought, I again found myself struggling to find something of interest to me in the iBooks store. I then saw a commercial on television for the Kindle…and I noticed, in very small print at the bottom of the screen that Kindle was also available for iPad. Could it be?! Could there be a Kindle App?! I raced upstairs to retrieve my iPad, and after a few short moments, I had the Kindle App downloaded, and I was surfing through the greatness that is Amazon.com. PLENTY of books to read, decent prices. I thought I’d found my happiest point with the iPad. I was wrong.

    I recently received an email from one of my very dear friends from college, and she confided in me that she had written a book, and she wanted to get my opinion on it. She sent it over to me in PDF format, and within a few minutes, I had this book loaded on my iPad and I was able to read it just as I did any other eBook. I was able to take it with me wherever I went, and that gave me the ability to read the book within days rather than within weeks (if I had been chained to a computer to do so). THIS is when I had the great iPad epiphany. While I still love the feel of a book in my hands, the smell of the pages, the sound of the pages turning, I had found my new favorite.

    I love reading on my iPad, and now that I’ve gotten the Kindle app on there (along with numerous PDFs that I have collected over the last few years, I have LOTS of good reading material to keep me entertained…for a while at least.

  2. I love my Sony Reader! I bought it when Thalia (bookstore giant) started their e-reader clearance to focus on their own product. So I got it rather cheap and it's only a basic model, even though I had a choice and there were better ones - however, comparing them I bought mine.

    What I find most useful is that I can adapt the font size and that the display allows me to read the text clearly from any angle. When I buy a book the printing is much smaller and sometimes causes a headache when I read for hours. Cheap paper sometimes even causes slightly blurred letters, especially in my beloved paperbacks.

    And that's point number two I like. I dislike (!) hardcovers for their size - and sometimes weight. Reading a novel from a Bronte's collected works, or Wilde, or Shakespeare from a bigger volume is a real pain. Now I can just download the complete works on my reader and have a small tablet in my hand. And the best of it all is: I get the books for free!!! Projekt Gutenberg has all the pdfs and sometimes epubs downloadable and since I'm mostly into classic literature, it's a real treasure chest for me! Dante's Divine Comedy even has pictures in the electronic version! I really like ebooks!

    But I also like real modern and recent novels. They are really expensive over here, even the Kindle versions. The sellers are not allowed to sell books for any price, so they must make sure the ebooks are about the same as the analogue versions. So I hardly ever buy ebooks. I might consider buying them in the US, but I haven't found anything worth reading / buying so far, so I never tried.

    We have a store which has "Free Book Day" every Thursday. Mostly the books they give away for free are totally boring, but sometimes they're really good. I downloaded a lot of books there over the last few months, it's quite nice. Noone would give analogue books away for free!

    There are still texts I prefer as a book. Texts I deal with in class, for example. I need to scribble down notes next to the text or highlight passages, I find this hard to do with an electronic device. So I don't think books will be replaced by ereaders in the nearer future - hopefully!

  3. I love my Kindle. I love that it is not backlit, and is so much easier on my eyes. I love all the free books out there and I love that I can read the classics for free. I love how portable it is too!

  4. Hi, Mrs. Turkey Bird
    I was recently enrolled in your fall reading class and am continuing to practice the speed reading techniques. I have quite a few books on my to-read list and can get a few of those for free on my Kindle. I'm concerned though that long/short smooth underline is going to damage the screen, with finger print oils and whatnot. I'm hoping you have some insight on this. Please let me know

  5. Heya! I'm not sure what the technical solution would be, but I think the practical solution is simply to practice LSU/SSU with paper books, textbooks, newspapers, etc. and then just trust to your eyes when reading on a Kindle. I think what you'll notice is that once you're comfortably and habitually reading with LSU in paper books that the speed and efficiency will naturally transfer over to electronic mediums. At least, that's what I've noticed. Let me know what you find works for you! :D