Perhaps I exaggerate by saying the books come intravenously, but for a book-lover, the Amazon Kindle is pretty close. I tend to rarely turn on the TV except for the news – it is not that I do not like watching TV, I just tend to forget about it. As a kid, I loved both reading and watching TV, but somewhere after high school I lost the habit of being glued to the tube. I am just more likely to pick up a good book than take the trouble to flip through channels or check a TV Guide. I still love the feel of a real book in hand, but now when I come across a book I would like to read, I can pick up my Kindle and have it delivered wirelessly within a couple minutes – nothing like a bit of instant gratification. You click a button and momentarily, you are in the Kindle book store on Amazon browsing through over 400,000 titles, most of which sell for $9.99 or less. By using the small keyboard at the bottom, you can search by title, author, or key word. It has limited ability to surf the web – mostly websites that are mainly text – still, it allows me to check my E-mail, read the news through Google Reader, go to a website with the daily office (Mission St. Clare) , and Google things; I do not need much more Internet than that while on the go.
One of my favorite features is the E-Ink display. It is crisp and without the backlighting you see on a computer monitor. That makes it much more restful for the eyes. In the evening after grading papers and computer work, my eyes tend to be tired. All I have to do is press a button and the font size enlarges to a more comfortable size for reading. I hear the Kindle has the ability to hold about 5,000 books on it. I have nowhere near that many, but still quite a few, including the entire Bible and the Book of Common Prayer.
For most folks, I think it is a little pricey at $259.00, but perhaps with competition from Apple’s IPad and other E-book readers, the price will continue to come down. I know I have saved a great deal of money compared to what I would have spent on both full-priced books and the attendant shipping costs. The text to voice feature is nice, but many of the latest books are not text-to-speech enabled – some deal cut with the publishers of audio books, I hear. I was going to continue reading a novel by listening to it through headphones while getting some dental work done last week when I discovered that particular book was unfortunately not enabled for text-to-speech. One claim made by Amazon is the Kindle is very sturdy and can be dropped without sustaining damage – not accurate in my experience. I dropped my first one and part of the screen just at the top had dark lines across it; I was able to live with it awhile until I dropped it a second time and the dark lines covered half the screen. To be fair, both times I dropped it onto the cement floor in my garage, which is not quite the same as falling onto a carpeted floor inside the house. As it was outside warranty, Amazon offered to replace it for only $100.00, but I chose to buy the latest version as a replacement. Needless to say I am being very careful with it.
I would love to tell you that most of my titles are like the Bible, or the Book of Common Prayer, or a book I have downloaded at the recommendation of my bishop entitled Transforming Congregations by James Lemler. ("Oh yes," he said with fingers crossed behind his back, "that is me; always improving my mind.") I must confess, however, that the truth is I have a lot of fun reads too (Anyone for some good Stephanie Plum mysteries?) since it is so easy and inexpensive to download them. I am impressed by big screen TVs, but after seeing some of the price tags on them, investing in my favorite form of entertainment by purchasing a Kindle seems like a real bargain.