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#91051 - 09/07/11 09:47 AM Re: Electronic Reading Devices [Re: VegetarianOnHiatus]
Ching Shih

Registered: 04/12/03
Posts: 784
Loc: Philadelphia

So since the last time I posted in this thread, about a year and a half ago, I've gone ahead and bought a Kindle. To be precise, I bought one in fall 2010 when the price went down. My thoughts:

1. I loved it at first, but that may have just been the fun of having a new gadget.

2. I like it for stuff that's hard to get otherwise. I've bought a few books that are otherwise out of print, or Kindle Singles (admittedly some of the Singles are free on, but they're much more convenient to read on the Kindle). I also like all the free public-domain stuff, although I don't think I've read any of the many free books I've downloaded yet.

3. Like you Flowers in the Attic fans, I like it for somewhat trashy stuff I don't want anyone to see me reading. I also like it for page-turners, mass market stuff I don't feel the need to physically own, and that moves quickly enough that the small screen doesn't bother me. The Hunger Games series, for instance.

4. I don't like it for literary fiction or creative nonfiction. There's something limited about reading deeper stuff on the Kindle. I don't know if it's the small screen, the greyish background, the fact that it's difficult to go back and reread passages . . . whatever it is, reading this kind of stuff is not at all satisfying on the Kindle. That's a big problem for me.

5. For obvious reasons, it's good for travel. However, the first time I flew with it, I didn't anticipate having to shut it off for taxi, takeoff, ascent, and landing. After spending way too much time with the in-flight magazine, I realized that I'd have to bring a physical book/magazine with me on future trips, which kind of defeats the purpose of the Kindle for travel. I still see its usefulness for long trips, but since my trips are always less than a week, physical reading material works just fine.

6. I'm getting very alarmed by the demise of Borders, and B&N's continuing financial troubles, to say nothing of those of independent bookstores. The fact is, I love bookstores, even big-box ones. They're home to me. I love browsing new books, looking at the covers, picking them up and reading a few passages, etc. I worry this shift to e-reading is going to end with next to no physical bookstores--or physical books. This is unacceptable to me, and it's become (although I hesitate to use this word) a moral issue for me in a way. I want to spend my money in my neighborhood. I want to support the businesses that I want to keep in my neighborhood. That includes lots of local establishments, like restaurants. It also includes bookstores. So I'm now very reluctant to even buy anything on the Kindle.

So, ultimately, the Kindle is nice for what it is. But I rarely use it. Instead, it's increased my commitment to physical books, and I'm more than comfortable with that. I realize e-readers are the pretty much inevitable future of books/reading, but I'm hoping the physical book and bookstore can hold off their complete demise until after my own.

ETA: A lot of people have lamented that big-box stores marginalized small-press books over big blockbusters. However, I can't imagine how anything can marginalize "smaller" books more than an e-reader. Basically, if you can't physically see a wide array of books in front of you, as in a bookstore or library, it's difficult to even know they exist. Perhaps the smaller presses can find a way to make e-books work to their advantage, as some indie music labels have done with music downloads. But I'm not too optimistic.

#91054 - 09/08/11 09:10 PM Re: Electronic Reading Devices [Re: GingerCat]
Ching Shih

Registered: 08/18/01
Posts: 1738

Thanks for that excellent and very balanced view of the Kindle experience, Ginger Cat. Frankly, even though I work in an indie bookstore, I've seen that Kindle has actually made some great ebooks available that wouldn't have been available any other way. I've got writing friends whose reputations will probably be made on ebooks, ultimately. I wish that Kindle was more an open platform kind of publisher and I have other reservations. But what I really wish and hope is that all the book formats and locations could co-exist.

I feel the same way about supporting indies as I did 10 or 15 years ago. If you view your local bookstore as one of the 'great, good places' in your life, you need to support it. Otherwise it isn't going to be there for long.

#91452 - 02/16/12 12:14 AM Re: Electronic Reading Devices [Re: essay]

Registered: 03/03/09
Posts: 457
Loc: San Francisco Bay Area

I've recently been borrowing ebooks from the library, and reading them on my Kindle. There's a service that distributes digital media (ebooks and audiobooks) via public libraries all over (you can search for your library system here). You check books out online through your local library with your card and download them. The service supports various ebook formats and many devices.

The selection certainly pales in comparison to what my library has in physical books, but there's a decent amount to choose from and I love the instant gratification factor of browsing for available books and being able to borrow one and begin reading right away.

#91454 - 02/16/12 11:04 PM Re: Electronic Reading Devices [Re: CaitlinM2]
Erin W
Ching Shih

Registered: 11/02/06
Posts: 362
Loc: Ohio

I adore the Overdrive system! I check out mp3 audiobooks all the time. I do cheat, sometimes, though; I'll rip the mp3s to disc so that I can keep them as long as I want.
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