Kindling thought

I joined the 21st century a couple of weeks ago when I returned from NYC and found I hadn’t spent nearly as much money as I’d anticipated. So, with a couple of gift cards burning a hole in my pocket I made the leap and bought a Kindle.

I wasn’t and still am not particularly comfortable about supporting the Amazon behemoth. My favorite online bookstore is bookdepository.com which offers free shipping worldwide and sells my Little Black Dress books, although, bizarrely, Mr Bishop and the Actress is available on Kindle on Amazon. Ah, those were the days when the digital rights were a paragraph blip that didn’t mean anything in particular in a contract.

But apart from that owning a Kindle has made me think about reading and how and why we read so this is a non-Regency type post. Physically, it’s different, to state the obvious. It’s small, it almost fits comfortably in your hand, and once you’ve stopped waving your fingers in the air to turn the page and decided which digit to use and on which side it’s fairly easy to use. But it’s a small screen and it’s rather like reading a children’s book.

Another objection I have is that the fonts of the books are all the same. I’m one of those typography geeks who enjoys reading at the end of the books something like: This book was set typeset in Dogbreath Seriffe, a font developed in 1657 by Melchior Astrolabe of Sicily … I like having a cover, particularly in any other genre than romance, and reading the credit for the original art on which the cover artwork is based.

I also suspect that reading is different. I’ve discovered I tend to skip the last line as I “turn” the page and frequently have to go back to make sense of the new page. This suggests that the physical act of reading and turning a page is far more ingrained than I thought.

But the major objection I have is that you can’t press the book you’ve just finished into someone’s hands and tell them they MUST read this. Reading is a solitary occupation but a great community of readers exists. Similarly, with the demise of brick and mortar bookstores we’re losing those places which were more than a building in which you could buy books; we all know that buying a cup of expensive joe was a small price to pay for a safe and comfortable environment in which the books may have been secondary, but they were there. Did you know that the average visit to a Borders was two hours? If you’ve lost your local bookstore, where will you meet your friends, or find a place to host a writing or reading group?

But back to the kindle. Do you own an e-reader? Have you found that your reading habits change? We all read a lot anyway, but there are many articles, like this one from the Wall Street Journal in 2010 claims that people are reading more with ereaders.

Here’s a useful free software I came across: Make Your PDF Files More eReader Friendly with Briss.

And finally, a light for your e-reader, the EbookLite. Do you own one or is there another you’d recommend?

Thoughts?

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