I’ve now been a Kindle owner for four months, though it feels like a lot longer. The short news is that I still love it, but here’s a few reasons why. Most of these apply to e-readers in general, not just Kindles.
No more struggles with big heavy books
I feel like I will never buy a fantasy paperback ever again, let alone the arm-breaking hardbacks. I zoomed through 3 Wheel of Time books recently and it was so much more enjoyable. I even gave my far too heavy copy of Parade’s End to Oxfam and rebought it as an ebook. My real book buying now consists only of nicely printed books and books I want to keep forever, plus the odd cheap secondhand paperback or out of print book.
This is my number one favourite thing about ebooks. Whenever there’s a book I like the sound of, I get the free sample – it’s usually plenty enough for me to decide if I’m going to like it or not. Some people get samples of everything that catches their eye, but I’ve found it’s easier to make an ebook-only wishlist on Amazon for anything remotely interesting and then sending a few samples now and again.
Instapaper + Kindle
This is my second favourite thing. All those long web articles I bookmark for later and never read – now I just send them to Instapaper and it bundles them up into a little magazine and sends it to my Kindle just before bedtime. Plus it removes all the ads, images and hard on the eyes website colour choices, making things much easier to read.
The concept of borrowing ebooks from the library is kind of hard to get your head around but it works fairly well. Basically, there are only a few copies available and you have to use something like Adobe Digital Editions, which keeps track of your lending period and ‘returns’ the books, deleting them from your computer/device. I’ve found the selection in Glasgow is not particularly aligned with my tastes, but I’ve managed to find a few things. Hopefully it will all become easier and better in time. Amazon Prime account holders can also borrow ebooks from Amazon, which is something I might consider in future.
Public Domain Books
Sites like Project Gutenburg are doing an ace job of digitising public domain books for free download. I’m looking forward to reading a few classics I’ve never gotten around to, and also to getting rid of some old favourites from my bookshelf that I can now access any time. I wish there was a law where all books that have been out of print for X number of years have to be made available as free ebooks. If you won’t let us pay for a print book, stop clinging to the copyright!
Keep your eyes open for sales – Amazon had a great Kindle sale over Christmas with 99p books. I managed to pick up a few things from my wishlist. It’s also worth following authors you like on Twitter as they’ll quite often let you know when their own books are on sale, as well as books by authors they like. I’ve also noticed ebook prices seem to fluctuate wildly. One book in my wishlist keeps seesawing between £2 and £6. Another reason I keep an Amazon wishlist so I can check current prices regularly.
Other good things – the inbuilt dictionary, being able to take 25 books on the train with me and the battery life, which really does last for weeks.
To end, one thing I don’t like
You’d really think the publishing industry might have learned something from record labels but no. Really no. Digital rights is only just starting to open up (Lulu and Kobo have just removed DRM from their ebooks and Amazon are apparently going to allow us to sell back our ebooks at some point). Prices range from reasonable to outrageous and are tied to print prices – you’ll often find the ebook gets cheaper once the paperback comes out. And worst of all, some publishers won’t release the ebook until months after the hardback, as if paying £11 for a digital file you can’t share or resell isn’t a kick in the face enough. There was a huge backlash against Tor for doing this with the final Wheel of Time book. I have been waiting impatiently for this week so I can finally read the damn thing.
Book fans – come and be friends with me on Goodreads!