Monday, February 21, 2011

A Tale of Two Kindles and a Nook: Part 1 - The Kindles

I thought that I had found the "sweet spot" in regard to my ever-present need to have books and magazines available to read.  My library provides a "book box" two miles from my home, where I can pick up and drop off books that I've reserved through the system website.  I also have three branches within a twenty minute drive, for those times I want to browse.  I subscribe to a dozen magazines and look forward to their arrival each month, and I have a personal library with enough books to keep me happy into my eighties.  I have carried suitcases full of books on the plane ride home from library conferences and book festivals (before that became too expensive) and never leave for an auto trip without a book bag filled with three or four books and several current magazines. 

I thought that I had plenty to read when I went to Alabama in October.  My daughter had a very bad case of double pneumonia, but she was released soon after our arrival.  I decided to stay a couple of weeks, and settled in with her family.  My granddaughters understood that Grandma's reading time was important and I was happy to see them (and hear them) read their own books. 

My son had brought his Kindle when he was visiting there, and left it when he went home.  During my stay, I picked it up and began reading.  I alternated between reading my library books and The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo on the Kindle.  After a week or so, I had finished my library books, and moved on to The Girl Who Played with Fire.  I also read some of the Kindle's User Manual and figured out how to have a book downloaded (within seconds) from Amazon. 

After I got back home, I let my son know that I owed him a couple of dollars for a book I had downloaded and also told him that I really enjoyed the Kindle.  He said that he was happy to hear that and told me that he was sending me one for Christmas.  I started making plans about how I would integrate the Kindle into my reading times at home.  I wanted to put it to good use, but felt, somehow, that I was being unfaithful to my books; I was having an extra-biblio-affair -- my own guilty pleasure that would somehow diminish my book-lover status.

Of course, the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas went very quickly, and I was extremely busy with preparations for both.  We had lots of company for Christmas and I put my new Kindle aside until after everyone was gone.

During January, I explored the features, skimmed the manual, downloaded some free books, and visited the Amazon website to explore more thoroughly what was available.  Among my downloads were two versions of the Bible: The King James and the American Standard.  I also downloaded a book of daily meditations and a couple of classics that I had intended to read.  I wasn't ready to download bestsellers, literary fiction or nonfiction, but I was happy with my Kindle and decided to use it in the following ways:
  • I wanted to read the Bible through.  Previous efforts (or promises) had failed.  The "Read the Bible in a Year" assignments that I had try to follow jumped around too much and the assigned readings didn't necessarily fit my schedule.  Sometimes I was able to read more, and sometimes less.  Using the Kindle, starting with the New Testament, I am able to read at my own schedule.  The Kindle stays at the page where I stopped, in the font size that I have chosen.  If I do happen to go to another passage, I can easily bookmark where I left off, so that I can return. (My "home page" contains a list of all my books.  No matter what book I want to read, the Kindle takes me to where I left off in that book.)
  • I also decided to use my Kindle for my daily meditations, for the reasons above.
  • I have vision problems.  I particularly have vision problems in church; I can't follow the scripture in the Bible because the print is too small and my eyes don't adjust quickly enough from visually following the minister and the illustrative screens at the front of the sanctuary to the small print in the Bible.  My Kindle solves this; I can look in the bulletin and find the scriptures for the day's sermon and go ahead and have them in the font size that I can see. 
  • I looked forward to having my Kindle with me when I was away from the house.  I especially looked forward to travelling with it and planned to download some leisure reading when we vacationed during the summer.
During the time I was getting acquainted with my Kindle, I visited my Dad, who is 89 and is experiencing visual and hearing problems. Dad loves to read and  I thought that he would be interested in the Kindle's font-size feature, where he could increase it to the size he needed.  He seemed mildly interested, but as I suspected, he wasn't ready to commit to a new technology.  This wasn't surprising, since his interest in any technology is pretty much limited to watching DVDs my brother loads for him, and using the closed captioning when it's available.

Later, I mentioned to my brother that I had introduced Dad to my Kindle and Rick said that Dad had told him about it.  This was evidence that Dad was interested, if not completely sold on having one.  I also mentioned it to my son, and Cory said that he wanted to buy a Kindle for Dad, which he did and had it delivered to my house.  I downloaded a Bible and several collections of westerns, plus some biographies of presidents and the writings of Abraham Lincoln (all free or almost free).  My Dad was one of the pilots who flew in supplies during the Seige of Bastogne (Battle of the Bulge) during World War II, so I also purchased a book entitled The Battered Bastards of Bastogne and downloaded it.  I asked Rick to meet me at Dad's when I took the Kindle to him.

We introduced it and all it contained to Dad.  There is a learning curve for seniors with any new technology, but Dad was willing to try, and didn't seem too daunted by accidently turning a page or learning the nuances of the arrow buttons.  He has begun to read the Book of James in the Kindle version of the King James Bible and was very interested in the westerns and the book about Bastogne.  As usual, I went a little too far when I wanted to show him how to search for his battalion and company; he was a little frustrated when I showed him the results and explained that he would have to go back into the book to read the complete passages.  But he is willing to learn and I think that he'll appreciate the gift more and more as time goes on.

So, that's basically my own experience with the Kindles in my life.  I will tell you about my Nook in my next post.  Yes, I have a Nook and a Kindle and, for me, that's not too much of a good thing.  More later --



Joy said...

Glad to read this since I've been trying to decide if I want a Kindle or not. I can definitely see the advantages of it.

Olive Cooper said...

I am glad you are happy with the Kindle. My SIL has an Ipad and she loves reading books on it. I have not made that move yet. I love the feel of a book and I am much like your Dad. Learning my new camera is about to drive me over the edge. I am tech challenged. Frankly my SIL annoys me with that Ipad attached to her everywhere she goes. Will people quit talking to each other? I realize I strayed from the original thought, please forgive me. hugs,olive

Mollianne said...

I have had my Kindle for 2 years and I love it! I use the Kindle app for my iPhone a lot, too. It doesn't matter which device I'm using, somehow they sync to the last passage read. It is just amazing. I like the iPhone late at night, so I can read without having the light on. I can read when I'm in line at the grocery or find myself waiting unexpectedly for someone or something. I also love being able to use the larger font. What a thoughtful gift for your Dad! Can't wait to hear about the Nook.


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