Thursday, July 07, 2011

Kindle Not So Hot... least not for me.

I'm aware that a lot of folks love Kindles, and I can foresee situations in which the kindle would be quite beneficial. I'd much rather have a textbook in ebook format with full searchability, for instance.

But I have to confess that I find the process of reading a book on a Kindle to be a poor substitute to reading a book.

Now let's be fair. I love books. I love the artistry of book design, I love to elegance of printing, I appreciate the variety of fonts, I like the sumptuousness of superlative bindings, I like the heft of the book itself. That probably makes me the anomalous audience as far as the Kindle is concerned.

I certainly appreciate the light weight of the Kindle; it's a great way to carry a number of books for reading while traveling, I'm sure... but I don't travel that much for health reasons.

What I don't appreciate is the Kindle's off-putting way of creating a brief inverse image whenever one "turns the page," or does whatever passes for turning a page on a Kindle. It's distracting; it takes me out of the world of the book and into the world of inelegant electronics with every page advance, and I find it distracting.

I also find the all-black-and-white display of the Kindle to be tolerable, but just barely. It's like appreciating the linework fo Gustave Doré via a mimeographed image of a Doré illustration. You get the idea, but it fails to capture the vitality.

I own a Kindle, thanks to an amazing offer that made the device available to me for not much more than the price of a single hardcover. I also own a Nook, due to a similarly irresistible offer. I like the Nook's color display better than the Kindle's black and white, but the display is still less vibrant and engaging than the image I get when I read a book on my iPad... and the Nook has a disconcerting habit of "squishing" some images to make them fit the unusually tall proportions of a Nook screen. And the Nook has its own software problems--it's kludgy and non-intuitive and sometimes cumbersome to use.

I also have an iPad, and I've probably read ten times more books on there than on the Kindle and the Nook combined. The iPad has glare issues, of course (but so does the Nook), but it's still closer to the book experience than either the Nook or the Kindle. I credit Apple's superlative software engineers for that; they have an amazing ability to recreate the human experience--but even then, I find the experience to be secondary to the book experience.

And those who know me are aware that I love signed editions of my favorite books. I have a feeling a signed Kindle, Nook, or iPad would be far less enticing...

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