Friday, July 02, 2010
Sunrise & Sunset
My Kindle ebook reader arrived yesterday and I must say -- I'm impressed! I really like it. I've always felt comfortable reading on my laptop, and the new e-ink technology is even better. The Kindle is lightweight, solid, a good size that's easy to hold and the buttons are easy to use.
I've already downloaded about 500 free ebooks of various kinds, so I have plenty to read. A lot of them are classics I've always wanted to experience but never have, or some I read years ago and would enjoy reading again. Some deal with history, philosophy, mythology, etc. I also look for current novels that are offered for free -- there are plenty of them around. Eventually I'll start buying content and will be happy to do so at a reasonable price -- I think ebook prices should be lower, not higher, than print books (a topic in itself).
One thing really struck me once I started reading a book on my new Kindle: this thing really does mark a major step forward in the evolution of how we read. I think back to the ancient cuneiform tablets of Mesopotamia, the papyrus scrolls of ancient Egypt, the runes hacked into the sides of trees or carved into stones along the roads of ancient Scandinavia. Then came paper and finally the invention of movable type. The Kindle and other ebook readers represent as big a step forward as the Gutenberg press. We're now witnessing the first steps of a major transformation in how written information can be disseminated. It's already started, of course, with computers and the internet, but with devices such as the Kindle the digital age will bring us to a time when print books will be a rarity, something for collectors. Not in our lifetimes, but it won't take long for this new technology to become widespread in the developed world, then the norm. We're seeing the sunset of the printed word, and the sunrise of a new age.
It's cool on the one hand, but a little weird on the other. I wonder how those with access to hand-copied manuscripts felt in Gutenberg's time when printed books began to appear, then became the norm!
The first novel I'm reading on my Kindle is His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik, which was recently offered for free on Amazon. I'm about a quarter of the way through it already and I'm enjoying it immensely. It combines an old-fashioned sea tale with dragon lore -- awesome! The writing style is reminiscent of nineteenth-century novels, which I adore. I'm impressed with the consistent quality of the prose. It's a great story for someone into dragons and the era of sailing ships.
The Kindle certainly helps me to focus while reading. I use a larger font size which puts fewer words per line and ultimately per page. This helps me to read quickly and the need to turn the page draws me forward. Seeing the progress bar on the bottom of the screen also encourages me to move along. I have no difficulty losing myself in the story; the device does not distract. The Kindle certainly makes reading easy -- I could read from sunrise to sunset!
I won't commit to reading a novel a week, but I will certainly enjoy reading as much as I can as often as I can. What a great way to catch up on my dream list of books I've always wanted to read but never found the time for! And what a great way to keep current with what's being published today. I wasn't sure how I'd feel with the device, whether it might seem overblown and unnecessary, but now that I've tried it, I'm totally sold. Glad I bought it, and I look forward to countless hours enjoying it.
Back to my reading,