Home > Mobility, Software > Reading in Bed with a Kindle… I’m Getting Hooked, but I Don’t Love it

Reading in Bed with a Kindle… I’m Getting Hooked, but I Don’t Love it

My mother-in-law received a 2nd generation Kindle as a gift from one of her publisher’s Penguin Books, which she recently passed along to my 12-year old daughter since she wasn’t using it. Given that “Granny” is a regular world traveler, a scholar, an avid reader, and a regularly published author, she is the kind of book person that would greatly benefit from the literal lightening of the load that an eBook offers, but alas, she chose to not work her way through the technological or psychological gap the Kindle ended up in her granddaughter’s lap… and now mine. As a technology guy, and someone who gets in trouble with my own clutter, I’ve always coveted the idea of a Kindle’s electronic tidiness, but the cost/opportunity/eventual obsolescence kept me from putting the hammer down.

Daughter rather liked the Kindle, but immediately ran into the issue of how to feed books into it on her limited budget (her iPod offers similar challenges). Dad on the other hand has a little bit more liberties disposable income wise, so I decided to borrow the device a few weeks ago, and am now nearly through my 2nd full length book (Daughter now wants the Kindle back). And while I don’t love it, I’m not ready to give it back yet. I’m curious as to what other’s experience has been.

The Kindle is Very Imperfect
I find the Kindle very imperfect, but will admit I’m hooked on having a small electronic slate next to bedside that quickly wakes to the page I left off on the night before. And while I love libraries and book stores, it’s amazingly convenient to hear about a book on the radio, or from a friend, and to get it delivered immediately.

I have a gooseneck LED reading lamp at bedside, which is almost required Kindle equipment, especially if one’s partner is trying to sleep when you are reading. The E Ink technology that allows the Kindle to run for weeks on end without a charge is not quite bright enough to read without another light source. From a reading in bed perspective, the oddest thing about the Kindle reading experience is turning pages. The 2nd generation Kindle relies on a dedicated page turning button which audibly clicks when you press it (apparently the newest 3rd generation Kindle has made this a quieter operation). If you haven’t done the Kindle thing, imagine a silent bedroom with your partner sleeping gently beside you… then click. The page turns sound positively cacophonous.

Since a Kindle book is readable on other devices, self conscious about waking my spouse, I tried reading one night on my Nexus One Android phone. Page turning is a simple silent finger swipe move, and of course the device’s AMOLED screen is very bright (no reading light required). Still there was something inherently awkward about hanging out under the covers with my smartphone in hand (and the brightness was definitely part of it). The handset is dense, where the Kindle is more balanced and thinner (more book like). We have a book jacket type cover for the Kindle, but the last couple of nights I’ve take the cover off as it adds unnecessary weight and the back flap is cumbersome while reading.

With the rise of Apple’s iPad, and various emerging competing tablet/slate solutions there is a great deal of debate regarding the relevance of a purpose built reading device like the Kindle. The pundits are suggesting that this holiday season will mark a real shift into eBook land similar to what we saw with digital music and photography. The question of course will be what will you be using to read those eBooks? One potential interesting challenger is Barnes & Noble, whose recent introduction of of the Nook Color (review here) delivers something in between an iPad and a Kindle, but still decidedly a reading device first. As far as form factor/device, I’m still on the fence. The Nook Color will undoubtedly evolve (or die) quickly, so conventional wisdom is to stay away from this first generation device.

Are you reading in bed with your iPad or Kindle? Do you love it? or are you a Luddite and sticking with paper for now?

P.S. I highly recommend my first 2 eBooks: Jane Levy’s The Last Boy: Mickey Mantle and the End of America’s Childhood and Mark Greenside’s I’ll Never Be French (no matter what I do).

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