Eleven years ago (Christmas 2009), I was given a Kindle and instantly loved it. I still have a Kindle and I still love it to bits … but there are some buts. I actually want to get this post – and a few others – written and published in a reasonable space of time, hence a list of points rather than carefully crafted prose. The chronology of events is based on my memory, so possibly not entirely accurate. Here goes:
- I have a Kindle, woop, woop! I can read lots of books, lots and lots of books, on one book-sized device, not much heavier than a book.
- The screen is one I’ve never seen before and is SO much easier on the eye (on my eye anyway) than a computer screen.
- The battery lasts for ages and ages, unlike other devices I could mention…
- I can download samples for free, an absolute stroke of genius! Sample sizes are generous for books written in English, and sometimes ridiculously stingy for books written in French (I speak and read both languages).
- Some of the classics are free or cost very little. The quality of e-reader/Kindle-friendly version varies quite widely…
- One annoying problem is solved quite quickly: previously, when you downloaded a sample and then bought the book, the sample stayed in your library AND you had to find the page where the sample left off. No longer!
- I can send pdfs to my Kindle. That is truly brilliant.
- I get a new Kindle from my all-things-electronic dealer (R.) every two years or so (whereas I keep a phone for as long as I dare – thereby slightly interrupting the flow of the not-quite latest version of the Apple phones from R. to the other members of the family: our two daughters and me) and there are more tiddly bits each time.
- I’ll rephrase that: lots of functions are added in, like highlights and bookmarks and collections.
- The user manual/instructions get a bit more complicated.
- As I approach my 50th birthday, I truly appreciate being able to change the font size…
- Over the years, I get to learn that if I want a wide range of Kindle books in French AND English, my best bet is to use my UK address and a .co.uk account. (Here’s hoping Brexit doesn’t change all that). It does mean, however, that I can’t have my beloved J D Salinger books (Especially Nine Stories) on my Kindle. Of course, Amazon is not entirely responsible for the conspicuous failure that is intellectual property regulation in the 21st century. Surely, surely there is a sensible way to reward creators fairly for their work, while letting consumers read/watch/listen to what they want, wherever they happen to reside and in whatever language? Anyway…
- The settings have changed, they’re organised differently, take a little getting used to. The buttons have changed too but they are entirely intuitive, whichever way you hold your Kindle.
- I find that I can’t work out how to send pdfs to my Kindle anymore. The size of the user manual and the number and hierarchy of the settings put me off trying to work out how to do it. No more pdfs to my Kindle.
- There are rumours that “Amazon authors” are encouraged to write longer books, that’s terrible if true.
- This is no rumour: I am encouraged to monitor (=spy on) the amount my children read. They’re too old now anyway but I would NEVER have used this function. How to put someone off reading for life!
- As a translator, I investigate the Amazon Crossing system thoroughly and even hang around the Amazon stand at the Salon du livre in Paris. After a bit, I conclude that this is not for me.
- The only way I can lend Kindle books, which is one of the two fundamental drawbacks of a Kindle, is by subscribing to Kindle Unlimited. The last time I looked, the range of books available wasn’t what I wanted at all. If I can lend Kindle books any other way, please let me know!
- Whispersync for Voice activated. Wow!! Wow wow wow. I’ve loved audio books for ever and being able to switch from reading it to listening to it is just amazing.
- Slight gripe: the Whispersync actors are very good and professional but other audio books, including Audible have stellar actors for unabridged narrations.
- Slight gripe N°2: the Whispersync … doesn’t sync very often
- Slight gripe N°3: since I’ve activated Whispersync for Voice, the battery runs out far more quickly.
- The second major drawback of a Kindle is that you can not show off all your books in your library. But wait! If you have an R. in your life who finds a hack to display the covers of all your Kindle books and then cycle through them in slide show mode on one of those terribly noughties electronic photo frames, you can!
In summary, if I had to choose between a smart phone OR a Kindle (not a Kindle Fire obviously) and a non-smart phone, I would definitely go for the latter. And yes it’s absolutely crazy but it is highly unlikely that I will ever have to make this choice, given that probably much more damage will have to be inflicted on the planet before we have to give up gadgets (and in my defence, we drive a single electric car and I use solid shampoo, so there).
Season’s greetings to all Kindle readers!