Half of all the blog posts I write seem to begin with me semi-apologetically mentioning how long it’s been since I’ve last written something down here (apologising to who, I’m not sure) or about the 3D scanner (which is still making progress). Well this one shan’t (except in this round-about sort of way). This one shall begin with me stating:
I’ve Been Busy.
Trying to stay true to my new years resolution of “doing more stuff” I’ve taken up rock climbing again and I’m thoroughly enjoying it, I’ve also done a bit of snowboarding which was immensely fun, and to top it off I’ve also drunkenly agreed to go along to one of the tango lessons my landlady teaches…. although i may slightly be regretting that.
I love books, and for a long time I despised the idea of e-books, they seemed so impersonal and transient compared to a solid physical object that you could hold, see and smell (who doesn’t like the smell of fresh print, or old dusty and worn books?). Until 4 days ago i had read the grand total of one e-book (the excellent Makers by Cory Doctrow, a massive inspiration for the 3D scanner project), if it wasn’t for how good the book was my total would of stood at 0 e-books, the experience of endless scrolling and reading a backlit screen for extended periods of time is both tiring and uncomfortable.
I’d occasionally eyed kindles and other e-ink display readers in shops and over peoples shoulders on the tube, and apart from being mildly impressed by how nice the screens are to read, I was never terribly taken by them. “Why not?” I started asking myself, I have a stack of books sitting at home with the spines un-cracked, i have piles of books I’ve impulse bought, read once and then left in a box to collect dust and I’m forever ferrying books between London and Manchester to read on the train. These books are doing nothing more than taking up space and/or weighing my backpack down, an electronic device that could hold all of them would be perfect.
So i bought myself a kindle.
The moment I knew it was awesome was when I forgot I was reading a book on a kindle. While reading books normally I often get so “into it” I don’t consciously realise I’m turning the pages, or that my eyes are skipping along lines of ink, the physical book just sort of melts away. That’s the same experience I had reading my first book on the kindle.
I’ve read two books on it so far and its been excellent. The screen is easy to read, they’ve refined the button placement almost perfectly on the 3rd generation, and the ability to download any book at almost any time over 3G is incredibly useful (although the web browser leaves a little to be desired, but hey it’s not what it’s aimed at).
There are a few downsides. There’s been many times I’ve looked up a book only to find it not available for the kindle (although hopefully this situation will only improve with time), the keyboard it pretty mediocre, and I don’t like the restrictive DRM they put on books downloaded from the amazon store (I’ve heard rumours that the e-book manager calibre has some helpful plug-ins to deal with this). I can also imagine it not working very well with books that use the physical properties of the book as part of the narrative (Such books as Albert Angelo by B.S.Johnson), but with that in mind the form of the kindle, along with amazon working on an SDK, has potential to open up a whole new realm of narrative possibilities (keeping my fingers crossed for a revival of choose your own adventure books).
I mean, come on. Portable, connected to a free world wide network (I bought the 3G version) with access to wikipedia/wikitravel…..
Bloody hell……. I was going write about some other stuff I’ve been doing but this post has practically turned into me spouting my opinions of the kindle. Well Amazon, enjoy your free publicity on this grand Blog with its staggering readership of about 2 (hi Lawrence!).