I got one and it’s fab.
That’s all I need to say really but let’s hear a bit more. I’ve wanted an e.reader for a while, not least because I’m a (bit of a) geek. After a lot of pondering between an ipad and a kindle, I decided on a kindle. Lesson one from all that research is that comparing them is a bit silly. Like a lit of electronics purchases, start by deciding what you actually want to do. Then buy the bit of kit that delivers.
I want to read on deck, in Mediterranean sunshine. In bed, while my partner lies sleeping. On trains, with my bag between my feet or in the overhead rack. I travel a lot and the weight of baggage is really important for me.
I spend (far too much) time on line and waaay to much time in front of a screen writing, editing and managing life in general. Right now, too little of that time is spent on my own writing, but, hey, I need some real money too. I have a battered but much loved power book which (whisper) I might replace later this year. I need real power to carry around, and the ipad isn’t yet delivering enough oomph despite its seductive looks and mega-hype. So the ipad won’t replace my laptop and you can’t read it in sunshine. That’s me for a kindle.
It arrived last week, along with it’s sexy cover (burnt orange, no less) with an inbuilt light. First up, The Origin of Species because I’d already downloaded that. First real purchase, Emma Donaghue’s Room.
I wouldn’t have bought this book in hardback. I might have bought it in paperback, and I might have borrowed it from the library. But I downloaded it in a flash and read it during the 8 hours train travelling I did last week.
I also made all my writer’s group submissions into pdfs and read them that way too.
How was it? About 9/10, and the missing mark is probably my technological failures. (RTFM, as the helpdesk likes to mutter under its breath.) Reading Room was so easy. I want to say pleasant, lovely and so on, but it’s not a pleasant book to read. It’s fantastic, beautifully written and enthralling. As a writer, I am awed by Donaghue’s skill. Just how does she keep us with her for long chunks of prose written first person, present tense by a small boy?
The physical experience was just great. The kindle is so light and easy to use. People complain about the prices (as if authors don’t need paying too), and it’s true that Banks’ Surface Detail is cheaper in Waterstones today than on Kindle. But it’s a lot lighter on the kindle, and that’s how I’m going to read it. This upsets some of the people who argue that £2.99 is all anyone’s ever going to pay for an ebook.
The pdf experience didn’t work quite so well. I failed to notice that the formatting really mattered on one submission, so was all set to chastise the author for mismanaging his POVs until I noticed. Also the page arrangements don’t seem too easy to manipulate especially if like me, you need it on quite big size. I turned it to landscape mode which made it much easier. I haven’t got to grips with the notes and clips yet either and ended using a pen (ink yes, quill no) and notebook to record my feedback. I’m not sure it worked and I might return to paper for that particular function.
There’s loads of discussion about whether e.reading will kill the book. After a week’s acquaintance, that’s rubbish. If anything, it will encourage reading. What it jeopardises is the current model that reading content can only be done in a physical book. What is potentially more worrying still is that it may limit the offer because fewer books might get onto the ebook distribution. The more we can do to encourage e.lending, the promotion of midlist authors in the ebook space, the better. In the meantime, encourage your MP to support the early day motion to abolish VAT on ebooks.