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February 17, 2010

Kindle Compromise: A new relationship that comes with its own pros and cons

I was thrilled to receive a Kindle for Christmas and I have been proudly showing it to everyone I know. Beside being just excited about my new gadget, I have been using it a ton. However, I’m finding that my relationship with my new e-reader has been more nuanced than I imagined. I probably shouldn’t be so surprised…after all I have cultivated a 30 year relationship with the paper book. Surely it is fair to have a few nostalgic hang-ups.

So after 6 weeks of use…here is my Pro/Con list. To be fair the Cons are NOT really a drawback of the Kindle per se…just e-readers in general.

(Pros) Things I love about my Kindle:

· As a commuter I love that it is light and thin.

· I love being able to easily carry multiple books with me at once. Also, since I am trying hard to drastically pair down my belongings at home, I appreciate not feeling guilty about acquiring more books that I will someday probably soon have to agonize about getting rid of…it has already been like Sophie’s Choice.

· I love that the newly-released books that I am buying are cheaper than the paper versions (for now)

· I love that it has a built in dictionary. My vocabulary (and joke) memory are about 3 seconds long, so it is nice to easily be able to look up the same word multiple times

· I love that you can electronically underline sections and store them together…all in one place

· I love the screen and how clean, crisp, and easy it is to read it is.

· It is easy to read in bed or laying down and doesn’t require the awkward flipping back and forth that traditional books do.

· Of course, it is amazing to instantaneously have the book that you want!

(Cons) E-Reader Challenges:

· I hate that I can’t lend books to anyone, not even to someone with a Kindle. My husband and business partner have both had to purchase books that I have recommended because I can’t lend my copy to them.

· My battery had died on the train, trapping all the 4 interesting books that I wanted to read inside.

· Which brings me to the fact that you have to remember to charge it.

· Not all books are available via the Kindle, which is ok, but it makes me less inclined to buy it. It is tough to navigate two systems of books and I was ready to take the full digital plunge.

· After a long day of computer work and an acute case of electronic fatigue I am often hesitant to pick up my Kindle and I instead long for good old paper. Although once I do start reading, I am always fine on account of the lovely screen and eye-pleasing screen that I mentioned above.

· The back of the Kindle is cold on bare legs! Bad for reading in bed, the beach/pool, and in the summer time.

· Despite the “progress bar” on the bottom of the screen you just don’t have the same level of satisfaction and accomplishment as you do when you are steadily seeing more pages stack up on the left side.

· If the book is pretty, you don’t get to enjoy the cover.

· I have my first book club meeting next week and my fear is that it will be hard to coordinate with everyone else, since I can’t match up page numbers.

· Speaking of book club…it is really hard to skim a book on a Kindle!!

While I’m certain that the benefits outweigh the costs in this situation and that e-readers will be the future, I neglected to realize that my breakup from traditional paper books may be painful and that it may take a little longer to negotiate my new digital reader relationship. And in the meantime I, of course, have to keep myself from reminiscing about paper books through rose-colored glasses. Each relationship comes with its own baggage, pros & cons, advantages and drawbacks!

posted by Adelaide Lancaster

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