Call me a crusty old curmudgeon—go ahead—but there is no fucking way I will ever give up real books for an e-reader called the "Kindle.”
I considered a somewhat stronger-worded opinion, but I guess my venom wasn’t flowing quite properly that day.
One year to the day later, December 21, 2009, Martha and the U.P.S. guy gave me this for Christmas:
I have kept it a secret because I am ashamed to tell all my bibliophiliac friends that I own one. And that Mr. No Fucking Way is using it every day. Not by choice, thank goodness, but by necessity: during the past year, my eyesight has gone from good to less than good to just plain lousy.
The model I received is the Kindle 2 shown in the photo—the upgrade from the original, but not the larger DX. Martha paid $259 US for it, no shipping or sales tax, plus another $30 for a nice fleece-lined cover to protect it.
1. With six preset font sizes, the largest being about 18-point, it is working well for me. That, of course, was the reason for the gift.
2. I like the smaller, featherweight size, and it fits easily in Martha’s purse.
3. After a month, it still works.
I started reading Stephen King’s Under the Dome on November 15, struggled through 488 pages, and finally put it down. When I purchased the Kindle version a couple days ago, I’m back up to speed in a story I’m really enjoying.
1. No matter what anyone says, reading on a Kindle is nothing like reading a real book with real paper and real ink. The Kindle's black print is crisp against a gray background, but it just ain’t the same.
2. Amazon is fibbing about the number of e-books available, at least at this point in time. Most of the current books by popular authors are downloadable, but oldies and classics are not. Faulkner? Forget it. Palin and Patterson? You bet. The same holds true for genre fiction, much of which tends toward trilogies and long series. I have been frustrated several times to find that books 1 and 3 of a trilogy are available, or 2 and 3, but not all three.
3.The Kindle does not use page numbers. Rather, it uses “locations” to tell the reader the percentage of the book read so far. The reason, Amazon claims, is the font sizes: the location of a certain page is different at 10-point than it is at 18-point.
4. Because of number 3, the Kindle is useless for quoting page numbers in a research paper or even a blurb in a book review. If I said, “The following quote is from location 2,784,” you would all think I’m nuts. And good luck to teachers.
5. While there are different font sizes, there is only one generic font for ALL books. A Kindle book is not the same as a printed book: it is digitally converted into a generic format with NO copy-editing. The amount of typos is horrendous.
6. Also unlike a book, there is no easy way to flip backward to a list of characters or maps. Luckily for me, I remember the three pages of characters at the beginning of Under the Dome or else I’d be in trouble.
7. The “Next Page” buttons are noisy, and skipping ahead two pages instead of one happens frequently, making it necessary to use the “Previous Page” button, which is only on the left side of the device. I’m not left handed.
8. The Kindle will only accept Amazon-formatted files (.prc), so downloading files from free sites that use .mp3 or some other format is not possible.
There is no sense in beating a dead horse to death; e-books, in my opinion, do not hold a kandle to the real thing. Unless you have a compelling reason to buy a Kindle, Sony’s Nook, or the Apple iPad, I would wait until the technology and choice of books improve. Drastically improve.
If you have specific questions or curiosities, ask them in the comments section. I will reply within a day or two.