I’ve recently received one of the new next generation Kindles (Kindle 2 I think they’re called, though I could be confusing models). It’s £109 from Amazon UK and wifi but not 3g enabled. There are 3g versions, I just didn’t feel I needed one.
I’m also going to be offline from the third to the 20th of September inclusive. As I say in the sidebar, during that time it is highly unlikely I will be able to update my blog or read and post to other people’s.
The Kindle is going with me. I’ve loaded it up with books and I’ve got a good third of the way into David Mitchell’s Ghostwritten since receiving it. I thought therefore I’d post a few thoughts on that while also letting people know I won’t be about.
It’s very easy to use. The screen is a decent size, the resolution is much sharper than the previous version of the device and the pageturning is fast enough that it doesn’t bother me. I’ve found reading on it a breeze, sufficiently so that I’m not really noticing much difference between reading on the Kindle and reading an actual book.
Of course, that’s partly the book. A good book should draw you into its world, or force you to engage with its language (or do lots of other things actually, but it shouldn’t generally leave you thinking at length about its physical form unless it’s something like The Unfortunates). Still, it’s interesting to me and in future when I’m travelling I’ll be taking the Kindle instead of my usual pile of books which then take up half my weight allowance.
Also, I see myself going forward buying mass publications solely on the Kindle, and restricting my hardcopy purchases to people like Pushkin Press, Dedalus, Dalkey, Peirene and so on. Those books do give me pleasure to hold, and those publishers tend to publish books which are both interesting and often obscure making them hard to otherwise get hold of. NYBR may end up being Kindle purchases though in future.
Which means, if in some future year a meteor hits me on my way to work that a good chunk of my then library will be in electronic form and access to it will be lost as I’m vapourised by tons of falling superheated rock. To the best of my knowledge (though I’m not an IP lawyer) electronic books are licences and can’t be left in wills. Equally, if that meteor passes me by but takes out Amazon’s head office causing them to go bust, that part of my library will go with them.
Those are real concerns. Well, not so much the meteor part but the temporary nature of books I buy in that format. That said, there are benefits too in terms of storage and ease of access. No technological change comes without downsides.
My other comment on the Kindle is that it’s easy to find yourself purchasing more books because you don’t see them accumulating on the shelves. That’s something to watch out for, after all whether in hardcopy or electronic there’s still no point to stacking them up and not reading them. The other is that as presently set up it’s far too easy to accidentally buy a book. So easy there’s a cancel this purchase option which triggers as soon as you make a purchase. So far I’ve purchased twice by accident, though the second time I was able to use the cancel option at least. Still, not a feature I’m fond of. The book I bought accidentally and didn’t manage to cancel was at least one I would have bought eventually anyway, Don Carpenter’s Hard Rain Falling from NYRB.
Other than that, I would comment that so far the David Mitchell is excellent, though it’s a touch unfortunate that the part of the book focusing on the life of a financial lawyer gets confused about the differences between investment houses and law firms – something that wouldn’t really matter save that I am a lawyer working in related areas and so I found it a bit jarring. A small complaint though for such an intriguing book.
All going well I’ll be back online from the 20th, and posting and updating soon after that. In case of meteor strikes before then, my money’s on the Galgut for the Booker. Which probably means it doesn’t have a hope.