I’m like a kid with a new toy, because… well, because I’m emotionally stunted and have a new toy. As mentioned Friday, through the generosity of Hunter Baker, prize-winning author of The End of Secularism, I’m the proud owner of an Amazon Kindle (the picture above shows what I’ve actually got, the new one. The picture I posted in haste on Friday was so last year).
The new Kindle can hardly fail to delight any reader (perhaps not any book lover, if he’s emotionally attached to the smell of paper and the feel of binding). It’s smaller and lighter than a paperback book. Shockingly small, to be honest, about the width of a pencil. Thousands of books are now available for this platform, usually at below hardback prices (and comparable to paperback if you figure in shipping and handling, which you get to bypass completely here). Downloads take no time at all (I downloaded a free version of Heimskringla, a book more than two inches thick, in about five seconds). The display is clean and clear (not backlit, but neither is a traditional book), and you can select your font size and other display options. If you want to read it sideways or upside down, you can rotate the image. Just to sweeten the deal, the Kindle also operates as a web browser (in black and white), and an MP3 player.
My only criticisms are minor. The controls are small and a little fussy, especially for web surfing. My great fear remains that I’ll drop mine, but I’ve ordered a padded cover which ought to cushion any shock.
Owning a Kindle opens up to me, not only the growing inventory of books available for sale in electronic form, but the riches of free public domain download collections, like Project Gutenberg. I’ve only actually paid for one book so far (Meadowlands by Thomas Holt. I’ll let you know how I like it), but I’ve downloaded several free tomes, and have my eye on more when I have a few minutes to play with it.
The main downside is that I think I hear the death knell of my campus book store.