As technology marches on, my profession of librarianship has to change and adapt. On a personal level, that means if I don’t change and adapt, my skill set becomes outdated, and soon I’m a dinosaur.
I’ve managed to stay ahead of the curve with regard to web technology and multimedia production, and that fact has served me well. However, until now, I have not taken the eBook plunge. It’s not that I have hated eBooks or anything, but I simply didn’t see that much use for them in my life. However, a lot of our patrons love them, so I have given in!
For the last few weeks I’ve been researching the various eReaders on the market. Initially I was drawn to the iPad, since it is a multi-functional device and a nice toy. However, for the reasons below, I opted for a different device.
After much consideration, research, and lost sleep, today I decided against the iPad and instead purchased a Kindle Touch 3G . I decided that my need for an iPad is really minimal — I sit at a computer all day, and have a laptop at home, and hardly travel. I will use my MacBook until it is unable to do what I need, then I will simply buy an undated MacBook.
So to be clear, I was looking for a device first and foremost that is good for reading books. Not magazines. Not blogs. Not webpages. Books. Text. I was not looking for something to watch movies on, or otherwise “consume media”.
The Barnes & Noble Nook is also a very nice device. I decided on the Kindle for two reasons. 1)I think Amazon.com is more likely to be around in five years than B&N, and 2)Just looking for some eBook offerings that might be a bit more “odd” – some Henry Rollins stuff and whatnot – I discovered that Amazon.com just seem to have a much better and larger collection from which to choose.
I had never really looked at the Kindle seriously before. It is really cool! Here are a few notes:
The E-ink: For someone like me who looks at an LCD monitor all day – Kindle’s E-ink display is just a lot easier on the eyes. A very pleasant reading experience. I was frankly shocked at how easy this thing is to read. I seriously think it is easier just from an optical standpoint to read than paper.
Free 3G: Amazon.com is very clever. They have set these devices up with free 3G as well as Wifi capability. So you can log into the Kindle store from anywhere there is cell phone coverage and buy books. Very convenient for customers, and I’m sure a great investment payoff for Amazon.
Quality: The Kindle feels like a well-made device. I had expected it to feel kind of cheap and shitty, based on its much lower price than the iPad or other tablets. Nope. It feels really good.
Size: Initially I had thought the larger display of the iPad would be superior for reading. Actually the 6″ tall screen of the Kindle is ideal. With the clarity of the E-Ink display, it is a perfect size. About the size of a paperback book. It is relatively light – a lot lighter than an iPad.
Setup Ease: There is really very little setup required for this device. You don’t have to install any software on your computer. It will help if you already have an account on Amazon.com, but it will guide you through that process if you don’t. Here is how it worked for me. Took it out of the box. Plugged it into the USB port on my computer to power it up. Once it had a little power, I turned it on. It guided me through some basic setup stuff. It asked me for my Amazon.com account email and password. Mind you — this is all happening via 3G — seamlessly. There’s a button in the main menu that says Kindle Store. I pushed it, searched for the book Blood Meridian, and purchased it. Within 20 seconds — maybe less — the book was on my Kindle. The Kindle Touch without 3G is a little less expensive, but in my opinion the 3G is worth it.
Turning pages, etc.: To turn a page, you just have to tap the screen. If you tap the left side of the screen — maybe the left 15% of the page, it will go back one page. Super easy. You don’t have to “flip” it with your finger.
Dictionary and Notes: My first book on this thing is Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian, which uses a lot of archaic language. I’ve run into quite a few words I didn’t know. By simply touching and holding your finger on word for a second or two, you engage the device’s built-in dictionary, which brings up a little window displaying the definition. Really quick and helpful. The window that pops up also allows you to enter notes, like writing notes in the margin of a normal book.
Cover: I always hate buying covers for mobile devices. THAT is what kills me. I hate spending $30 or whatever on 3 cents worth of molded plastic to cover my iPod. However, knowing how rough I can be on gadgets, I forked over for this leather Cover for the Kindle. I was just looking for something that didn’t look like Tinkerbell designed it and that would actually fit the device (not some generic thing that wouldn’t work that well). When I got back to my office and put the Kindle in this cover, I was delighted to discover there is a built-in light at the top, that swings out and provides just the right amount of illumination to read the thing in low light or the dark! Cool! I hadn’t even noticed this feature when I bought it.
Other stuff: There are a lot of other cool features related to social media, the ability to see comments and annotations in books from other people you follow on Amazon’s Kindle site, etc. I really haven’t scratched the surface of this stuff.
So as you can probably tell, I’m really very happy with this purchase. After buying the device, the cover, and the $40 extra warranty to replace the device if I run over it with my car or something I spent less than $300. You could of course do this much cheaper, but I really recommend getting a Kindle that takes advantage of the free 3G. It is worth the extra money. I think if I’d spent $600 or $700 on an iPad I would be feeling some buyer’s remorse right now. Instead, I think the Kindle Touch 3G has delivered more value than I was expecting.