Why I finally bought a Kindle

A Kindle now lurks close at hand

A year or two ago I couldn’t imagine wanting to read a book without paper pages. Now there is a Kindle in the drawer beside my bed. What happened?

I’m definitely not a naysayer when it comes to e-readers and the whole digital revolution thing. I’ll let others man those particular barricades. I just really enjoy the experience of holding a book in my hand and the texture of the pages – not to mention being able to flick back when I’ve forgotten who Drog McBurdle is and why he’s wearing that purple hat. (I always seem to have about 6 books on the go, which becomes confusing now and then…)

I was comforted by chats with my bookish teenage niece about how she couldn’t see herself breaking with paper, despite being a member of the digital generation who won’t even send me an email because it’s so old-fashioned. I could see that more and more people were going to want to read digital books, but I clung to a fond hope that paper wouldn’t totally die.

What changed my mind?

I still hope we’ll always have paper books of some kind, but I now own an ebook reader. This is why I cracked:

1. Availability of books

So many interesting books are only available as ebooks these days, and I was missing out because I didn’t have anything to read them on. I don’t like reading books on a computer – it’s just not that relaxing holding the laptop over your head while you lie in bed, even though it may be good for toning the upper arms. I also don’t have a smartphone, and am hoping to keep using my stupidphone a little longer, to save money for buying more books (the smartphone I want is about $700 in Australia – that’s a lotta books).

Further, a lot of other interesting books are hard to find anywhere but Amazon, so that even though I can order them on paper, I almost have to re-mortgage my house to pay the shipping charges. Living in Australia at the far end of the galaxy is splendid, but this is one of those times that I wouldn’t mind if the oceans were just a little smaller. (Air travel to America or Europe is the other time – 16 to 24 hours in the pretzel position… but we’ll talk about that some other time.) Therefore, if I buy the digital version from Amazon instead of the paper one, there is no huge shipping fee – no shipping fee at all really – and no wait.

2. Financial considerations

Ebooks are generally cheaper than paper books, and sometimes dramatically cheaper, so I can buy more. But even more importantly, the next-generation Kindle with the lower price came out about the same time that the value of the Aussie dollar went up. So almost overnight, the price of a Kindle dropped from about $400 in my money to about $125 in my money. That’s the cost of only about 5 trade paperbacks here in Oz. That makes it doable all of a sudden.

3. My mother

Ha! You didn’t see that one coming, did you? My mother loves to read western short stories by Louis L’Amour when she can’t sleep. Unfortunately they only come in hardcovers the size and weight of three housebricks taped together, which was wreaking havoc with a muscle she pulled in her back. It suddenly occurred to me that an e-reader might be a better alternative for her, and even allow her to enlarge the text so she can read it without her glasses if she wants to. The desire to help her out finally gave me the impetus to stop dithering and make a decision – buying two at the same time.

Even though my mother is in what we like to call “late middle age” (er, 70-something) and not a huge fan of her computer, she has had no trouble learning to drive her Kindle. Turns out she loves it, and enjoys calling it a Noodle whenever she can’t think of its weird name.

Why Kindle?

Why did I choose the Amazon Kindle (affiliate link) over the iPad, the Nook, the Factotum, the Kobo, or the Bindoodley? (In case you’re feeling a bit out-of-the-loop, I made up a couple of those names. Although, having poked fun at the whimsical names they give these gizmos, I have to admit that the Sony Reader is probably the most prosaically named electronic device so far this century. Sony has gone downhill since that guy who named the Walkman left the marketing department.)

1. Ergonomics

I liked how it felt in my hands. This was the single most decisive issue for me, because I have to hold it in my hands for a long, long time. I spend a lot of hours every year, reading. The State Library of Queensland has a gaggle of e-readers on a table right near the front door, and you can sit in an armchair and try them all out for as long as you like, or until the library closes, whichever comes first. I liked the touchscreen on some of the others, but ultimately the “next page” buttons on the Kindle were in just the right place for my hands. If you’re thinking of buying an e-reader, I strongly recommend you find a place where you can try different brands without having to rush, and find the one that just suits you.

2. Ease of purchasing

It was easy to buy the Kindle, direct from Amazon, even though I’m in Australia, and it arrived in only a couple of days. (My local post office lost it for a while because the mailing label was reportedly too small for them to read, but that’s another story for another day…)

It’s just so easy to buy books, although in all fairness, I didn’t really research this aspect in any great detail before I bought it. But man, I can buy a book in a hurry with one-click ordering. (This is the danger of it, in fact…) And pretty much everyone puts their books on Amazon, unless they are Making A Stand About Something, so I can be fairly sure to get any book I want.

3. The backlight issue

I am a devoted Mac lover and think iPads are really cool, and I was SO tempted to buy one (and one day I still might), especially after I read this rave review from Nathan Bransford. I did have a little pause-for-thought when I read that Michael Hyatt gave his iPad away and bought a Kindle instead.

But what finally clinched it was that I read in several places that even though iPads are great for reading in the dark because you don’t need a reading light, researchers believe the light they produce may have a tendency to make people wakeful. Since I do insomnia at Olympic level already, and I often read to help myself sleep, this was a factor I decided not to ignore.

My Kindle doesn’t produce light – I do need a reading light for it – and I find it pleasant on the eyes and not at all computer-like to look at. A plus of the “no light” thing is that the battery lasts for ages, especially if you turn the WiFi off when you don’t need it (I haven’t recharged mine for WEEKS).

 

So there you go. From reluctant beginnings, I have joined the Fellowship of the Kindle, even though I still have plenty of paper books and will continue to buy more, because I love books, I do I do I do I do I do (sing with me…). I have about 6 books on the go as usual, but this month they’re all in one little gizmo, and I can carry them all on the train with me at once, in case I change my mind and want to switch books between stations.

Do you have an e-reader, and how did you choose it? Or are you committed to sticking with paper? What do you like or not like about the new technology?

11 responses to Why I finally bought a Kindle

  1. We moved a few years ago (FOUR!) and after shipping a bazillion box of books, an w-reader started making a lot of sense. I was a reluctant purchaser, but one of the original Nooks, feeling very behind-the-times! I thought everyone had an e-reader already. Since then I’ve bought to Kindles, a fire and a paperwhite. My husband reads from his iPad. I now PREFER an e-reader because the highlighting/note-taking functions have been so improved and plus.. the SEARCH function is just awesome!!! Great post!

    • I love my e-reader and I love my paper books… but I find I’m becoming very selective about which books I buy on paper now. There has to be a good reason, otherwise I get the ebook. I’m even starting to give away the books I know I’ll never read again–a bold move for a person who sees books as furniture. :-)
      Thanks for stopping by.

  2. I was only disussing e-readers vs books with my boyfriend last night, who reported that a colleague had been using one at work yesterday, when it suddenly declared (on screen) that it was too hot and was turning itself off! Books don’t do that, that’s for sure. I can’t help feeling he must have had a dud one – it was 34 degrees in London yesterday, but I’m sure it’s a darned sight hotter where you are…

    • Omigosh, Helen, I haven’t heard of that one happening! But you are right, a paperback wouldn’t often do that. ;-)

      It’s winter here right now, so we’re cooler than you, but yes, I’ve read my Kindle in hot weather and not had a problem yet.

      Perhaps the answer lies in what the colleague was reading……………

  3. I haven’t bought one myself, but your arguments sure are convincing! Will RT!

  4. Thought that if I was going to self-publish on kindle, I’d better buy one. Love it. Light, easy to read, convenient to buy books. I’m reading more since I got it.

    I’ve since bought an ipad, and use it differently – too heavy for reading in bed or holding in one hand anywhere. Great for magazine style reading, and the smh app is outstanding.

    I’m travelling soon and wil be stocking up ready for the trip. Last time we travelled, we ran out of reading about half way through – not this time

    • I’m reading more too, I think. One thing I love is reading while I eat my brekky – because I can lie the Kindle flat on the table and just take a stab at it when it’s time to turn the page, no wrestling with pages n cutlery, trying to keep my place etc.

      I’m eyeing off one of those nice leather covers so it’s easier to take on the train – at the moment I just chuck it in a daggy old padded post bag! ;-)

      Once ebooks become much more multimedia and interactive, I think I will probably really hanker for an iPad. Lucky you to have both!

      Thanks for visiting.

  5. I just recently jumped on the e-reader bandwagon. I thought that I ought to become familiar with them for business purposes if nothing else. I waffled on which kind to buy for awhile but I eventually chose the Nook. I liked that it was pretty much half an ipad at half the price. The back light was a selling point for me. On car trips, I want a back light. I can’t tell you how many book lights I have lost and misplaced over the years. Back light solves that problem. Plus, I also loved their lending feature and several of my friends had Nooks instead of Kindles.

    E-readers are also convenient for traveling because now I can have all of the books I might want to read on my Nook rather than shoving a bunch into a bag like I used to.

    • “half an iPad at half the price” – a great summary! I’m glad you like your Nook.

      Another place I think backlight would be great is on lo-o-o-ong plane flights. (I hate putting my overhead light on when the person beside me is asleep, I’m afraid I’ll disturb them!)

      But I can’t wait to be able to take a whole library with me the next time I go on holidays/vacation!

      Thanks for stopping by.

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