I never in a million years thought I’d get an eBook reader from the current batch of options. They were so not on my radar. I didn’t get all excited and jealous when I saw people with them. I never even thought I’d want to read a book that way. Heck, I hate reading articles on my computer! I’ve printed out every article assigned for ACRL Immersion because there’s no way I’ll retain anything if I read it at my computer. And even if I did want to read eBooks, I’d never want to do it on a device that only does that — like I need another electronic thing to lug around.
And yet, here I am, the owner of a Kindle. No, I didn’t have a total change of heart and buy one for myself. I actually won it in a raffle at a conference I was speaking at. Even if you don’t necessarily want to buy a Kindle, it’s pretty exciting to win one! From my hotel that evening, I registered my Kindle and downloaded a couple of books. I read stories from Alice Munro’s Too Much Happiness on the way home the next day and found it to be a pretty good reading experience. It’s nothing like reading on a computer screen — no glare, no backlight. To my surprise, I actually found it to be just as pleasant as reading a print book. A few weeks later I read a 320-page book, Orange is the New Black, on the Kindle (by the pool, in the bathtub, and in bed) and, other than having to plug it in at night, I never thought about the fact that I was reading on an electronic device. The reading experience was just as absorbing. I even fell asleep reading on it! I’ve been pleasantly surprised by it and am actually reading more now that I have it than in the entire year since my son was born.
Knowing what I know now, would I have bought it? Probably not. I don’t travel enough (or read enough, with a toddler in the house) to make it really worthwhile. But there are other reasons why I think the Kindle, and eBook readers like it, are not where it’s at. First of all, while you can annotate a book, it’s extremely cumbersome on a Kindle. When I was in college, I highlighted and underlined the hell out of my books and wrote notes in the margins. When I thought about transferring my Immersion readings to the Kindle, I rejected the idea because I knew I’d want to write notes in the margins and underline important passages and it seemed like a hassle to do that on the Kindle and then refer back to those annotations at Immersion.
Most also don’t take advantage of one of the most exciting things that’s happened in computing in the past decade — the growth of the social web. In addition to easily annotating the things I read, I might want to see what annotations others have added to what I’m reading, if they choose to make them public. If I’m working on a group project, I certainly want to share my annotations with my team members. I want to make it easy for friends to see what I’m reading and what I thought about it and to see what people I trust thought about the book I’m considering downloading. I know the upcoming update to the Kindle firmware will have some social features, but it’s still a long way from what could be possible in the future. I can’t even imagine what reading online is going to look like in the future!
I’ll wait to spend my money on a device that offers all this and is more than just an eBook reader (go convergence devices!). The iPad still isn’t exactly what I want, and at that price it’s just not worth it for me (though I must say that I’ve had fun playing with other people’s iPads). I know so little about the market for eBook readers, but I feel like everything is really in its infancy, is so proprietary, and is so tied only to recreating the print reading experience rather than reimagining the reading experience. I definitely enjoy reading on my Kindle, but I’m much more interested in seeing what comes out in the next several years. I have a feeling it’s going to put what’s available right now to shame.
Congratulations on the win! You warm the image of the kindle in my mind; maybe it would be a fun tool.
The iPad is a great eReader!
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Your thoughts made me smile. I’ve resisted the e-reader for several reasons, among them being the “another electronic thing to lug around” factor. Keeping the cords straight for all my devices isn’t easy either. Having said that, I find my resistance wearing thin each time a friend shows me something on theirs.
Still, I’m waiting for some of the features you talk about and the hope that perhaps prices will drop.
I’ve been using the Kindle desktop app for reading. I wanted to see how I like reading on a screen (thinking iPad) and I really like the ability to highlight and take notes then access those online. I highlight and make notes in my books and part of my desire for an ereader was to be able to find those easily, right now I have to try to remember what book it was in then flip through the pages to find the text (I use post-it flags but still) With my kindle highlights being online its an easy matter of searching. I think all of my nonfiction books will be Kindle format, though I’m not sure I’ll ever buy a reader.
I’ve wanted a Kindle and now an iPad, but like you I don’t think they have the features I want… yet. Thankfully, I have waited, although it has been hard with the iPad. This past semester I discovered that Mac’s Preview (for reading PDFs) has annotation features which are great and helped me to cut back considerably on my printing habits this semester. I also am looking forward to to trying the Kindle App for Mac for at least one textbook, if it is available. Who know’s what I’ll do, but I love reading about everyone’s experiences before I make the leap.
I’ve been wanting to try one out and now I feel inspired to go do it. I do think the future of e-readers will be the communication that we can have around books we read. I like http://www.goodreads.com for now. Thanks for the positive words.
I never thought I’d be much of an ebook reader, but then I got an iPhone and had a baby. Now I actually do more reading in ebook format than in print simply because of the convenience (when you have a baby, the ability to read in a dark room is a big selling point). I don’t see much need for a dedicated reader device – the iPhone is working really well for me, and the inconveniences are minimal. I’m intrigued by the iPad for many reasons, but the price would have to come way down before I’d consider it.
Part of what I think a lot of people who read a lot of books before the Kindle (including me) miss about the innovation of the Kindle isn’t merely replacing paper books but rather opening up a whole world of reading to the low (less than 5 books a year) or nonreader. I think more Kindle owners are reading more and reading more widely because it is so easy to try a book and they buy it.
Your right on target about the social features being missing.
The Kindle and even the ipad are at best very early second generation devices that need to mature and be refined before we can call them true innovations.
I’ve borrowed a colleague’s Kindle to determine whether I want to buy one. My reading experience was okay, but not what I’m used to; not what I love about books and reading. Like you, I want to wait and see what else is out there before committing. There’s the huge issue of portability and migration between ereaders that I want resolved/dealt with before I choose a device.
I love my BN nook! I have a toddler too and it’s so much easier to chase her around and read at the same time without worrying about loosing my place. I also don’t have to remember which book to bring with me when I leave the house because I have them all. It charges on my cell phone charger and also has sudoku. We librarians are always getting BN giftcards for Christmas/birthdays so I just saved mine up and bought the nook with that. I tried the eBook reader on the iPad and it is nothing like the printed page.