Thursday, October 6, 2016

Kindles and reading today

There are several other electronic readers but I use the Kindle from Amazon.  I have about 2043 books in my Kindle archives.  Some of my friends also have Kindles but I think the majority do not.  A few read Amazon electronic books on iPads and other devices but many of them say they like the feel of an old-fashioned book with a cover and pages made of paper.  

One professor said he found looking at references in the back of a book and reading footnotes a bother in an e-book.  Many readers jump around in a book for a variety of reasons and the Kindle has a new-ish feature called "Page Flip" that attempts to make it easier to page through a book.  The basic idea is to hold the current page in the background and create a smaller version of that same page on top of the current page image.  That imposed image can be flipped through rapidly and yet the current page is still there, to be retrieved with a tap.

I have been getting Amazon ebooks since 2008.  I am still delighted with the speed of getting a book.  I imagine I would have fewer ebooks with Amazon's clever and relentless suggestions of other books I might like.  They do make it easy to add titles to a wish list and I have made good use of that option.  I have about 1500 titles that I have added to my wish list. We still have about 120 books on our office shelves.  The original impetus for getting ebooks was the minimal storage, handling and dusting.  

Oddly, there is actually more ease with ebooks to jump between books than there is with paper pages.  Not every book of importance is available in e-form but many are.  When Amazon first started selling ebooks, they set the base price at $9.99.  Many books still cost that and many cost less.  With a little work, you can find hundreds, probably thousands of wonderful books that are free. However, it is easy to find books now that cost less for paper pages than for the electronic version.  

I share my ebook collection with my family so buying an ebook automatically means about 12 people have instant access to it.  

I was on a walk this morning when a neighbor pulled up beside me on her bike.  As I usually do, I asked her what she was reading.  She asked me what was the best book I have ever read.  That question pops up often with books but I prefer to modify it a bit.  Rather than try to cite the best book, I just ask for a title that is remembered and was quite good.  She mentioned "Why We Make Mistakes" by Joseph Hallinan.  When I got home, I went to buy that book and found that I already had it.  I had bought it last July.  I have been listening to "Lab Girl" by Hope Jahren in the car while doing any driving at all.  I just finished that excellent book yesterday.  Today, I looked on my iPod to see what else was ready to be listened to and there is "Why We Make Mistakes".  

Probably the hardest part of adjusting to the Kindle reader for me was lowering the temptation to stop reading and consider any of the the other 500 books right in my hand.  Is this really the book I want to be reading right now?  Should I switch to one of the others?

Ebooks are fast, convenient and generally inexpensive.  I recommend them heartily.

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