A(nother) Kindle convert is born…
by Kilmeny Adie
“It’s a Kindle.” I say with all the joy and awe of announcing my first born is a boy.
Right up until that point – the opening of a birthday present – I didn’t know I wanted a Kindle, would use a Kindle, or really what all the fuss was about.
Truth be told, I was a little suspicious of this slimline piece of technology. Working in a bookshop put me through university, and I can happily while away the hours in Waterstones reading blurbs, author profiles and drooling over eye-catching dust jackets. And I love the texture, smell and that craaak as you pull back the cover of a brand new paperback. How could I contemplate reading on a screen?
Well, I’ve been seduced. And I’m not alone. According to a report in The Sun in April 2011, sales of ebooks for Kindles, Sony Readers and iPads increased by a phenomenal 202 per cent in the US last year. And in the UK – the Guardian writes – Amazon has sold 242 ebooks for every 100 hardbacks since 1 April 2011. Factor in the fact ebooks are flying off Waterstones’ virtual shelves at a rate of four to one against hardbacks and it’s clear the reading landscape has changed.
Well, if a Kindle is good enough to get Oprah Winfrey’s endorsement, its little wonder everyone else has followed suit. So what won me over? The biggie is the most obvious – it’s easy to read. The screen is surprisingly book-like and it’s not back-lit like an iPhone, so you’ll still need the bedside light on. It’s easy to pick your next book, too. I just logged into Amazon, linked the Kindle up to a Wi-Fi network, and my new novels were downloaded in a matter of seconds. It’s also light. There’s a certain smugness knowing you don’t have to carry an encyclopaedia-thick tome on holiday. Plus, there’s the budget-friendly aspect of it. With pounds tight, I can’t always justify around 8 quid every time I need a new book.
And author Stephen Leather knows there are a lot of people like me. This wily author prices some of his novels around 49p so Kindle virgins would be tempted to download one of his over, say, Stieg Larsson. And he’s not alone. Gordon Ferris is tempting crime-readers, too, and his book, The Hanging Shed, has a four-star review average and costs the princely sum of £1.20. That’s cheaper than a Costa coffee.
Of course, there has to be downsides and for travellers its portability is also its greatest weakness. You’ve got no qualms about leaving a book in a hotel room but what if your Kindle gets nicked? Plus, unlike a book its battery can run out. It’ll take a while – about a month – but it’ll happen at some point. Better not be when you’re stuck on a broken-down train. And last, but by no means least, Amazon’s great but there’s nothing like shopping in a ‘real’ bookstore…
So what do you think? Are you an ebook convert or a die-hard paperback lover?
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