So here I am, poised and ready to enjoy reading a book on the kindle. I have been prepped so I know it is NOT a touch screen device; you turn the pages by pressing buttons. It’s basically like living in the olden days, technology wise. Remember buttons? They were fun, weren’t they. Although sometimes you used to get things stuck under them – bits of cake, usually, or foliage – and then you had to prise them off with a nail file or a straightened out paper clip to get the stuff out. They went back on OK but they were never really the same again.
Still, nevermind eh. Here is the sight I was greeted with on opening the case – arguably not a brilliant start because I find Virginia Woolf pretty dull. However I rose above it like the trooper I am. It’s not like she’s the only picture you get – it’s gone back to sleep again now and given me Jules Verne who is far more diverting.
Now, eagle eyed readers may notice that due to the fact it lives in a case, the kindle opens up rather like a book. I can only speculate wildly that this is designed to lull you into a false sense of security just as much as it is to protect the gizmo. It’ll take more than that to fool me, you tricksy Amazonians.
Anyway, I decided to have a look at the kindle store and see about perhaps downloading something to read. I didn’t have anything in mind though, so naturally decided to browse through all the books ever…
By which I mean all the books that are currently available in ebook format, listed in the order of which is selling the most. That gives it a faintly random quality, which I quite like, although I got bored after scrolling through about four hundred titles. That’s not a judgement on the kindle, incidentally – there are various search options where stuff is sorted by genre or A-Z just like a library or bookshop would have, and there’s a search function if you can hit the correct keys on the teeny keyboard.
On which subject, see how the tiny keys give the impression my hands are GIANT! Way to give a girl a complex, seriously… The tip of my index finger is like a mighty sausage ready to button mash Q, W, A and S altogether. There is no book called Qwas! Although there is an online business. They have something to do with woodwork.
Fortunately my enormous meaty fingers proved dextrous enough to press one tiny button at a time in the end. Although I wonder whether it defeats the whole ‘kindle is great for older people whose sight is going cause they can make the text bigger’ argument. Surely it doesn’t matter how big the text on the screen is if you can’t see the keyboard to search for the books you want..? Just a thought.
It was interesting to look at the top few hundred bestsellers and try to work out why they were there. They weren’t all things you’d get on the 3 for 2 tables in your bookshop, neither were they all Scandinavian crime fiction. Indeed, there were some rather salacious titles – hence this face.
I opted not to download any of the racier titles, mainly because I didn’t feel the quality of the writing was up to scratch. But it did illustrate a point Bob made when extolling the virtues of the thing, namely that with a kindle, you can be reading anything at all and nobody will be able to silently judge you for it. This is ideal for people who are self conscious about their desire to read erotica on the bus to work every morning.
In the end I downloaded a kids book called Shadowmagic, because that’s how I roll. Also because it looked quite fun. The tagline is “Lord of the Rings for the 21st Century. Only shorter. And funnier. And completely different.”
If it turns out not to be fun, it only cost 49p, whereas the other stuff I might have looked at was more like full price. Bear in mind here, before you think I’m being a skinflint, that this is not my kindle. I don’t think it prudent to hand it back to its owner having spent £50 downloading books he may not want to read, that I will then never get to see again. So I shall read Shadowmagic, and let you know whether it lives up to the tagline.
In terms of my kindle experience thus far, I think it’s an intuitive, well designed bit of kit. It was easy to navigate the store and download the book and it’s quite a nice thing to read from – I should point out I have read a book that was already on there, Bossypants by Tina Fey.
But my head is not yet turned, and in fact the main other thing I have been doing today is assembling flat pack shelves to get the rest of my book collection off the floor. Obviously if I had a kindle of my own I could have saved myself both the trip to B&Q and the momentary confusion when the instructions told me to screw everything together loosely first – HOW LOOSELY?! – but there again I would have missed out on the feeling of pride at a job fairly competently done. That seems a heavy price to pay for saving yourself some space.
More kindle thoughts as they arise.