Thursday, February 17, 2011

Krazy For Kindle

As the second decade of this millennium kicks off, I have entered the world of e-readers with the purchase of the Amazon Kindleand I have now turned into a Kindle Evangelist! One cannot fully express the glee I feel as I quietly turn pages on the lightweight instrument. This has got to be the greatest thing to happen to reading since the advent of the printing press.

Not being one who is known as a voracious recreational reader, I have nonetheless read more books in the last month than, sadly, I have sometimes read in a year.

Those mundane moments that were often filled with boredom in life have vanished. Waiting at a doctor’s office . . . Kindle! That long Saturday cashier line-up at Costco . . . Kindle! Stolen moments taking a break at work . . . Kindle! How did I manage to survive without it?

But with this latest technological marvel, we have created yet another item that drives a wedge between you and social interaction. While the whole world seems to be on Facebook or are texting each other, very few people seem to be actually talking to each other. I’m just as guilty.

At the aforementioned doctor’s office I was quietly reading my Kindle. The sheer novelty of it brought questions from some of the other clientele who wanted to know about the newfangled instrument. I politely answered their questions, but inside my head the only sentence that kept playing like a mantra was, “I’m reading my Kindle precisely because I really don’t want to talk to you!”

At least I remained civil and answered the questions, unlike the woman at the pool in the Kindle commercial whose snarky response to the query of how she was able to read in bright sunlight, was to quote the price of the Kindle as compared to her expensive sunglasses (in a Walter Mitty world I kind of envisioned her later being “bitch-slapped” with the guy’s iPad).

Sadly, as Kindles, and other units like it, become more commonplace, members of society will be even more in their own little world, oblivious of what’s going on around them. Kindle could become the adult reader’s drug of choice, much like a Nintendo DS is the elixir of many a child. When you’ve driven on highways haven’t you noticed that children rarely gaze out the window anymore? Their faces are buried in some device, thumbs at the ready, while the wonders of the outside world literally pass them by. Well, except for the driver, (at least I hope except for the driver) the adults are headed down this same road.

Now, this is only a mild cautionary tale, because, like I said, I do love my Kindle. And it’s hard to find something wrong with anything that will get people to read more. I’ve even shown interest in re-reading some of the classics that I was forced to absorb in high school. Back then, my concern wasn’t the quality of the novel, but rather, can I get this thing read in time, and what pearls of wisdom can I glean from it that will enhance my mark? I’m sure books like To Kill a Mockingbird, Of Mice and Men and the written play version of Death of a Salesman were all vital parts of my early development but they were lost on me. I would like to read them now and actually enjoy them. As a major James Bond fan, I would also like to read the collected works of Ian Fleming, in the order in which he wrote them in. My wish list of reading material, both old and new, is a lengthy one.

It’s not only the Kindle unit that I have nice things to say about. The customer service at Amazon has been truly remarkable. Regular readers may remember my plight last year with Timex in my blog piece Is Customer Service Running Out Of Time? Well, that watch company can learn a thing or two about how to treat those who purchase their products. I won’t go into detail, but suffice it to say that I’ve had to deal with on several occasions and in each case I couldn’t possibly be happier with the outcome.

From cave drawings, to Sumerian Logographs, to Johannes Gutenberg’s press we’ve come a long way. A marvel of technology literally held in the palm of your hand. Amazon is to be commended. It truly is e-mazing! (oh-oh, I’ve used one of those catchy 21st Century phrases).

Now, if I could just remember the face of the person who sat next to me for two hours at the doctor’s office.

That’s the Stuph – the way I see it.


  1. I too will soon be buying my Kindle after a thorough examination of all the options.

    While I feel it is the best option, I am a little upset that unlike US customers, Kindle buyers in Canada must pay for shipping and then customs charges. At Least the Canadian dollar is now competitive.

  2. I love my kindle> Should we start a group exchanging books we love. I question whether I am now anti-social? Between facebook, blackberry and Kindle, have I disappeared from I now but a whispering voice....Tammy

  3. I got my kindle and shortly after you told me about yours, downloaded Paradise Lost and Dracula. Two classics that I've always wanted to read again but for some reason pushed aside. In this era of Facebook, Twitter and what have you, it's nice to be back reading....and it's all your doing, Mr. H. You got me hooked on my kindle.

  4. My only objection to the Kindle is that I can no longer surreptitiously look at what the person sitting next to me on the subway is reading as there is no book jacket. But don't be so hard on yourself for not talking - people reading books, whatever the format, are reading books, not conversing.

  5. I do not have a Kindle but my ereader is great. I too have been reading the classics that I didn't enjoy reading in high school. It's great when I'm waiting to pick up the kids.

  6. I don't have an e-reader yet, but I am always happy to let a print book drive a wedge between me and some well-meaning stranger~

    This was a thought-provoking piece. Thanks!

  7. Excellent post, Peter. I don't have a Kindle yet, but I've downloaded the software so that I can read Kindle Books off my laptop. The beauty of it is that since I have an account with Amazon, I'll be able to read the Kindle Books that I purchased when I buy a Kindle. Even if my computer crashes, I won't lose any books that I've purchased.

    Russell Brooks
    Author of the action/thriller Pandora's Succession

  8. I love my Kindle 3rd generation. I think it's currently the best e-ink device on the market (but, of course, it's a volatile market). As an author myself, I'm all in favour of anything that gets people reading more and it does seem that those who have ebook-reading hardware do find that it gets them reading more often than they did before they had it.

  9. I'm still unconvinced regarding PDMS vs. SmartPlant for worldwide industrial 3D plant design, what do I know about Kindling?

    Paul, Mac Guy

    PS Excitedly waiting for my Amazon order for 'The History of Industrial Gases'. My nipples are exploding with anticipation!

  10. Excellent points. Me, my wife and 2 of my children each have e-readers now and am thrilled to see them reading them; although they are big readers to begin with. But the e-reader does make it more convenient to carry multiple books with you where ever you go. It's also great for home schooling, because again, you can tote more than one book with you. I think if we can just learn moderation, we will be okay.

  11. @Charlie Profit It would be much more convenient for a student to have all of their textbooks on Kindles or any eReader because it would save time and trouble lugging these heavy textbooks from school to the library to home.

    Russell Brooks
    Author of Pandora's Succession

  12. Great post...Just received my Kindle-and loving it more each day...luckly I was already anti-social...So this just gives me an extra tool.

  13. I don't have a Kindle and don't want one. What happened to the days where you can go to a bookstore, talk to an employee and find out what book he/she liked? What happened to the days of sitting on a park bench and reading the newspaper? I have read many books in my days that I have enthralled me and I was glad to hand the book off to someone else so they can enjoy it as much as I did. I love technology as much as, if not more than, the next guy and i admit i'd be lost with out my BlackBerry. But is nothing sacred?

  14. I am the author of over 10 books, and although I have the option of selling my books as ebooks through print-on-demand service, I choose to do paperbacks instead.

    Part of what I teach in my Relationship Coaching business is to show people how to connect with one another. New technologies are a great convenience, but when that convenience becomes the norm, social interactivity is sacrificed.

    Adults who already have experience with developing social skills appreciate the new tech for what it is. Young people that never had a chance to develop social skills because technology filled their time, are going to struggle as adults when they want to form inter personal and intimate relationships.

    Also as an author, I have to tell you that illegal downloading of books has turned the book industry on its ear. With a paperback, if you lend it to someone, the lender must do without. If the borrower gave it back, but wanted his own copy, he would have to buy it. If the lender never gets the copy back, he has to buy his own again. Now, there is no such thing as "lending" an ebook. It is a full blown copy of the original where both the lender and the borrower now have their own versions.

    Authors have to have a media marketing structure in place if they intend to make a living off their works, and now they have to have further services (i.e consultations). It takes a LOT of work to produce a book and with ebooks being so easy to illegally distribute, all that work becomes nothing more than publicity with no guarantee of return.

    What to get an idea of a real slap in the face?

    A "fan" contacts me via facebook to tell me how much my books have changed his life and what a debt of gratitude he owes me...he tells me this just before telling me he illegally downloaded them all from some internet site. That month I was struggling to find part time work to supplement my income and wondering how I was going to pay my rent...I told him the best way he could thank me was to stop stealing income from me and buy the actual copies.
    Never heard from that idiot again.
    Thanks without compensation is meaningless.

    -Frank Kermit

  15. Peter, I cannot WAIT to buy one! I am a voracious reader, and the one thing that bothers me about books these days is their weight and/or general un-weildy-ness (sorry Mrs. Lessard), so I am happy to hear it is light. Also happy to hear that you're reading more - what are you reading right now?

    - Audrey Mc

  16. They are mukza on Shabbos when I do most of my reading; the only day I get the Gazette delivered.