I remember when I first got an Ipod. I was a couple of years late in the game, which meant I had benefited from a slicker, fancier model than the first generation mp3 players. I enjoyed the device – it was trendy, practical, and well, cool – for all of about two weeks. The sad truth is that I’m woefully lacking when it comes to musical savviness, my familiarity being limited to The Beatles, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Phillip Glass, with a nostalgic affinity for 90’s alternative rock. That’s it. Hardly enough to capitalize on a device designed to hold, manage, and ultimately glorify a love for music. Well, readers, guess what? Our Ipod has come, and no, it isn’t the Ipad.
This Saturday I awoke to two wonderful surprises. The first was a new holiday, Stepfather’s Day, complete with hugs, kisses, and cards. The second was the next generation Amazon Kindle. Now, being something of a technophile, I had already suspected that I would like the reading device, I just never expected to love the thing. And boy oh boy, do I love it.
Let’s forget about the gorgeous design for the moment (pictured is the older model, I couldn’t find the pic I wanted). What’s struck me about the Kindle is its focus on content. I don’t watch television because I don’t care to be assaulted by commercials. I make mental notes never to buy products that use underhanded advertisements online. And unfortunately, I don’t read nearly as much as I should, because where I live, visiting a book store means going to the mall, which, frankly, is the last place on Earth I would ever want to be, barring a zombiepocolypse, and even then, joining the flesh-eating undead would be a better alternative than those over-crowded exhibitions of consumerism. The Kindle cuts to the chase. It is pure, unadulterated information in the palm of my hands. No ads. No threat of interference from unrelated content. It is first and foremost a text-based instrument designed to channel an unimaginably deep stream of content to me. It’s a dream come true.
The e-ink is amazing. I don’t feel like I’m interacting with an electronic device so much as a green alternative to paper. The built-in text to speech is brilliant. Zooming, adjustable fonts, mp3 storage, a pre-installed dictionary, a library of thousands of books in the public domain, and note taking abilities are also each different shades of awesome, but the real kicker is a free – FREE – web browser with 3G wireless connectivity. And since it is primarily text-based, that means internet w/out all the usual distractions that come with it.
Many people worry that the e-reader is going to usurp paperbacks, and that by doing so, it is taking something away from the reading experience. Now that I own an e-reader, I can confidently say that I don’t believe this to be the case. The Kindle is a work of love by readers for readers through and through. While the business may still be entangled in issues over rights management, how to handle borrowing and lending e-books, text to speech rights, etc, there’s no denying that the device is going to change the reading landscape forever. As a writer, I suddenly feel empowered. My theater has expanded from my little neighborhood to the vastness of the world-wide web. I’ve met people who I would have never met otherwise, and now I have a new tool with which to broaden my literary horizons.
The cover to the Kindle writes: a love of art was inspired in me.
That couldn’t be more true.