Here is a comment from a reader of my New Era post:
I am on the brink of buying something kindle-like, too. But the issues for me are: can I make comments on the book? The difference between a marked and an unmarked book for me are everything–highlighting, marginal marks, questions, etc. The book doesn’t feel like it is mine without them.
Issue two: why does kindle, and its corporate headquarters, have to store my comments, and any other personal documents that I want to read on its pages? I should be able to “kindle” my word documents without Amazon.com taking possession of them.
Issue three: I can’t lend a friend a book without lending them the entire library (my kindle).
Issue four: I love to see and feel the pages, and thumb through them. I don’t really know of a kindle equivalent to that.
So right now I am inclined to wait for a different version, or, if I break down and buy one, to use it for newspapers, magazines, and books that I want to read but don’t want to keep in a holdable, thumb-able library form.
Here are some thoughts to those comments:
Issue 1: Contrary to the commenter’s strategy of reading books, mine are always pristine when I am done. So while I appreciate the comment, it’s not an issue for me. As a matter of fact, I put in bookmarks and comments while I was reading, just for testing, and I took them out when I was done, just so my copy was pristine again when I “put it back on the shelf.” However, it does allow you to leave them in, of course.
Issue two: Well, not necessarily because they want to or are interested, but there is a sinister aspect to this too. Read the Fourth Realm trilogy, reviewed in these posts below, if you are worried about being On The Grid or in the Vast Machine. However, I challenge you: You keep your photos on Flickr, you keep your private musings on FaceBook, you tell people where you are in Twitter, and your cell phone can indicate where you are, down to the Starbuck level, to the Vast Machine any time. Who cares? Perhaps we SHOULD care, of course. Valid issue, therefore.
Issue three: That is outright wrong. I have not tried it, but as far as I know, you can share up to 5 copies of your books with others. As a matter of fact, it’s better than hardcopy books, because you and your partner can read the same book at the same time sharing it, provided both of you have Kindles. Noted, I haven’t tried this, but I have been told by other readers that’s what they are doing.
Issue four: I do too. I love the feel of pages. I also love the act of purchasing a book at the bookstore. Tough. But read my surprises below.
I have now read one book and started another one on the Kindle, and here are the positive surprises so far:
One: Traveling with the Kindle is great. Your books are all there. You don’t have to decide which to take with you. That is the overriding benefit of all. I have the thing in my briefcase, and downtime, waiting for a meeting where I arrive 30 minutes early now turns into reading time. Small breaks here and there, and I have my entire library with me for the weight and size of one paperback.
Two: It requires less physical effort, and I am more comfortable when I read. Reading a book like Stephen King’s Under the Dome is work. The book is huge and weighs several pounds. My arms hurt holding it up in bed and everywhere else. You can hold the Kindle with one hand, but mostly I lay it on my lap. You can “turn pages” with a simple push of one link of one finger and move on. So you turn pages faster than you would otherwise. In bed, it’s also easier. I just rests there on my chest and I don’t have to move to read. Zzzzzz.
Three: I read faster. I am a slow reader for fiction. I like to savor my words. But I have now sized the screen just right for me, and all books look the same. So my reading cadence has sped up without any downside. Every book is read the same from the mechanical aspect.
Four: I like to read over meals when I am alone. Being a very frequent traveler, I often have to eat alone, which does not bother me at all if I can read. Most books, however, are very awkward at dinner. They don’t lay flat. The salt shakers are not heavy enough to hold down the pages. The plate rim does not function well as a book holder. So it requires constant use of the left hand to hold a book while eating for the most part. The Kindle just lays there, perfectly for reading, and you can even turn the pages with the back knuckles of your hand if your fingers are chicken-licking-greasy and read right on while munching away. This is a huge benefit that I did not expect.
Five: I have made it a tacit goal to read the hundred best novels ever written. I have probably done ten or twenty of that list (which I need to post here someday) and there are probably eighty left to go. Devin just gave me The Count of Monte Cristo for Christmas, which is on every list. Just for kicks, I started checking Amazon, and I found that you can “buy” classics for zero dollars. These are books that were converted to Kindle format by volunteers. So just to test, I “bought” Treasure Island, which is also on the list (surprisingly, from the movie industry I know the story but I never read the book). It’s now on my Kindle and it cost me nothing. So I went on searching, and I must say, since the 100 best books of all times are mostly all classics, they are in the same category as Treasure Island, and without any specific research and counting I would estimate that half of those books are available for free for the Kindle.
I have not come up with any serious negative issues or arguments, other than I have no “proof” in form of a book on my shelf, or rather, in a box in the garage, that I actually read a book.