The Kindle belongs to my daughter who I've been visiting for the past few days and she's allowed me to work on my relationship with it by letting me carry it around, take it to bed, and read the books she's stored on it (I restrained myself from ordering new books even though the Kindle is attached automatically to my daughter's credit card). It's cute and easy to use and you can choose between fonts sizes.
On my first night I hunkered down in bed and chose Sue Johnson's book, Hold me Tight, Seven Conversations for a Lifetime, which my daughter had ordered right away after hearing the author interviewed on CBC's Ideas. The room I was sleeping in was chilly so I snuggled down deep under the duvet and was able to read with only one hand sticking partway out of the cover. Very cosy. A couple of screens into the book I realized that I had heard the same CBC interview as my daughter had and that I had ordered the book right away too--through AbeBooks--and that it had arrived by mail during the Christmas rush and was sitting at home in my pile of books. I read on anyway, with no eye strain, and when I started to fall asleep I switched over to "text-t0-speech" and got a female voice at a "default speech rate" ( you can opt for "slower" which might be helpful for the hard of hearing or "faster" which sounds like the robot voice that phones me to remind me that my library books are due) to read to me. Just before I fell fully asleep I tried, without success, to turn off the voice using the same button that I used to turn off the Kindle and in the end I had to turn the light back on and use a menu to do it, since the Kindle has no reading light attached to it (a disappointment for a dedicated night reader like me). I found out later from the user's manual that there's a way to turn everything off at once.
The next day, January 14, I tried reading the January 18 issue of the New Yorker, which meant I was one step ahead of millions of other people who would have to wait until it hit the newsstands, although this did not impress me. On Kindle, the New Yorker is divided into sections like "The Talk of the Town," "Reporting and Essays," "Fiction," "Poems," and "Cartoons" and once you choose a section you move through from one article to the next or you can choose an article from a list. All kinds of things change on a Kindle: it's harder to dip in and out of stories and catch a cartoon along the way, and it's difficult to see from the tiny "progress bar" at the bottom of the screen just how close one is to the end of an article, something I often do in the paper edition--how else can you decide whether a story is worth it or whether to keep reading when you know you should go to sleep?
The shorter articles, like "Talk of the Town" don't seem that short on a Kindle--in the paper mag I usually read them in their entirety--and I gave up on several of them before they were done. In the paper mag I often flip through the pages and read the cartoons one after the other but on the Kindle it's not as much fun doing that, especially since you won't encounter the cartoons again unless you choose them individually. I enjoyed most the only fiction piece in the issue, "A Death in Kitchawank," by T. Coaghessan Boyle, perhaps because it held my interest enough that I didn't look at the progress bar.
This morning as I lay in my warm bed reading the Kindle, I kept falling back to sleep. Could be the holidays, or maybe this issue of the New Yorker just isn't that interesting, or maybe the Kindle just makes it too easy to read so that we fall asleep for lack of effort to do anything else. Picture it now, a busload of passenger, all dozing comfortably over their digital reading devices.
I'm moving on tomorrow and saying goodbye to the Kindle and since I'm a "late adopter" when it comes to new technology (even though I've had a computer since 1981), I think I'll wait til the digital reader wars are over and there's some kind of universal interface. In the meantime, I'm planning to get my first cell phone.