Saturday, October 17, 2009

On the Slant: International Kindle

Since I ended up reading about academic fairy tale studies on the Wall Street Journal this morning, I also came across this lucid article about the International Kindle:

The Book That Contains All Books: The globally available Kindle could mark as big a shift for reading as the printing press and the codex

I've been an enthusiastic Kindle user since last year when I bought it as merely a convenience for traveling. To not have a supply of books to read at hand is the height of misery for me. I have well over a 1,000 titles on my Kindle now and find I prefer reading with it. And I was a diehard book person previously, a librarian, a woman who has hauled thousands of books back and forth across the country in moves. Books define much of my existence.

Now I find most of my book purchases are for the Kindle, at least my entertainment reading. I prefer reading on my Kindle since I can do it one handed at various print sizes. I read while exercising on my elliptical now. I've even formatted my first three SurLaLune anthologies for the Kindle before anything else since that is how I wanted to read them myself.

Of course, book readers are horrible for illustrated books. The technology is working on that. They are not replacements for books. But they are complements, improving portability, access and ease of use in many ways.

I'm not here to debate Digital Rights Management. All e-readers, including the Kindle, can support books not sold by their distributors. Most of the books on mine were accessed for free and added at no cost to me by me. They are out-of-copyright titles, of course, but I read and study classics. Those can also be shared with other device owners. I've also bought many current titles and spared my groaning shelves over the past year.

And I wish this technology had been available when I was a student, lugging books around that I may or may not need around campus! I am curious to see where the trend goes. I rolled my eyes at the technology a few years ago and now I'm converted. No, it's not the same sensual experience as holding a book. I've heard that complaint over and over again. But when I'm reading novels and unillustrated books, that doesn't matter.

With my reader, I get a book that is lightweight no matter the page length, one that isn't yellowing or giving me allergy issues, one that has the exact same text as the printed version. Reading for me is strictly about the words in about 90% of the materials I read. I find myself picking books to read on the Kindle before the ones laying on the TBR stack next to my bed. Overall, I prefer the reading experience. And I'm not even into reading glasses yet, but choosing a slightly larger text size is wonderful, too. My grandmother suffered from macular degeneration. Her family was always seeking large print books for her, limited to heavy, often irrelevant titles for her. If I am someday afflicted with the same condition, I am thrilled to think virtually no book will be unavailable to me.


  1. I hadn't thought about large print editions (or more specifically, their traditionally limited availability) - that's an excellent point.

  2. I don't have one yet, but I think the kindle (and the other devices) are just wonderful! And, like you, I'm a major book lover. As you say it's a complement, not a replacement. Nicely put!

  3. For a good essay on the benefits of e-readers/e-books, check out David Rothman's piece on the Huffington Post (Dated 10/22; I have no idea why I can never get a link to post here!)