Monday, January 24, 2011
When, in Waterstones some years ago, I saw, for the first time, e-book reading gadgets I was too sceptical to take much interest in them; apart from which they were too expensive.
More recently I have been seduced by Amazon publicity for their “Kindle” device (Why do exceptionally clever devices invariably have such inane names?). Yet sceptical, I ordered one. I gave the ‘buy’ button the lightest possible touch and began at once to be concerned. For reasons quite beyond my understanding Amazon.co.uk can not deliver “Kindle” products to Greece. I had to order from Amazon.com in the United States. Previously, goods ordered from beyond the E.U. have taken around three months to reach me; orders placed within are usually delivered within three weeks. I had committed a budget-blowing $100 U.S. and more to buying something I neither needed nor of which I was at all sure of how much use I would make.
My “Kindle”, ordered on 10th January, arrived on 20th. Amazon have obviously made arrangements to short-circuit greek customs duty delays. Within hours of unpacking this little wonder all my scepticism had evaporated; since then my “Kindle” and I have been as one!
It is the size of a small paperback book but only about as thick as a ball-point pen. It’s weight is negligible. Reading from its screen is exactly as is reading from a book, "Kindle" reading has nothing in common with reading from a computer screen. It comes pre-loaded with two adequately comprehensive dictionaries, one English one U.S.American, and a User’s Guide. Adding books from the “Kindle Store” is quick and easy and not only are they less expensive than physical books, they cost nothing to deliver. Indeed, I have already bought books by the yard; collections of Hardy, Thackeray and Trollope (All their novels for just a few dollars per author!) as well as more recent titles, amongst which is the recently released autobiography of Mark Twain. Last Saturday I bought that day’s edition of “The Times”, if I chose to I could subscribe to a newspaper and have it delivered daily to my “Kindle”. In practically every respect the “Kindle” suits me better than a book. It is lighter. It is always flat. I do not need a bookmark, the “Kindle” will aways switch on at the page I was last reading, although I can also bookmark other pages. I can highlight passages. My “Kindle” has a small, thumb operated qwerty keyboard with which annotations can be made. Through a USB slot my “Kindle” communicates with,and can exchange files with, my computer. It battery, Amazon claim, requires recharging "about once a month". Should I want it, I can download music and have it playing as I read. My relationship with my “Kindle” is yet in its infancy, I have much yet to learn. I am infatuated - no, besotted - with this gadget; the best return for $100 U.S. or so, or its equivalent in any currency, that I have had in a long while.