Photo: Kindling @ Tuileries, Paris (20 Sept 2010, 24°C; couldn’t resist)

I’ve been meaning to write a post on my latest toy for a couple of months now, but it was so much more fun to read than to type up a comprehensive post. So here’s a compromise. I’ll just jot down a few of my impressions and get back to reading.

Having been sceptical about the whole electronic book affair, I started with a light version, just a Kindle application for my BlackBerry. It was an instant hit that helped me finally read the incomplete Stieg Larsson series and join the crowds that regret his never having had the chance to finish it. But while quite doable, reading on a small BB screen is less than comfortable. It does the of job keeping one calm in queues, however.

Anyhoo, a few months after my birthday I managed to decide what I wanted for a present and my auntie was her usual wonderful self. Enter Kindle.

The first book I read on it was “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” recommended by BigWhale and from then on I just couldn’t stop. Needless to say I never managed to read the manual. The gadget is fool-proof enough. A big plus. What I first discovered (gosh, I so want to type “en utilisant” right now, can you tell we’ve been brushing up on the gérondif) while using it, was that

  • The screen is very kind to the eyes and dimly lit, i.e. it requires external illumination in the dark;
  • It’s very lightweight;
  • Makes it a whole lot easier to meet budget airline luggage weight limits;
  • It comes with a dictionary; just place the cursor in front of a word and its definition will show up at the bottom of the screen (useful if reading a masterfully written book such as Hitch-22);
  • You can mark text and insert your comments or just underline it;
  • The selected text can be shared online with others (eg. via Twitter);
  • A book can be bought pretty much anywhere, thanks to the “whispernet”
  • Supports various e-book formats.

What I truly appreciated was the fact that there were no distractions. No incoming e-mail, no urge to look up a phrase on the internet and drifting away. Even to check what time it was, I had to bring up the menu screen.

Thinking about the downsides, I’d say:

  • Very few books in languages other than English;
  • Once read, the books cannot be given away or lent to friends, not even for a fee;
  • Doesn’t come with a jacket (and I’ve been too busy or to lazy to provide it with one up until now);
  • Mine doesn’t come with WiFi so it’s a bit limited as the basic browser worked in Croatia, but it is blocked in Luxembourg and in France;
  • Ease of purchase – I’ve spent more on books than I intended to.

With regard to the first and the last point, I’ve only just (re)discovered the perfect site. First, thanks go to peroksid for opening my eyes to the “non-Amazon” e-books. One thing led to another and I found/remembered Project Gutenberg. It wasn’t all that interesting while I had to read the texts on my computer, but with Kindle, it’s a whole different ball game!

So this morning, I downloaded a number of French books from this wonderful website. I’ll be staying in Paris for a few weeks and reading French seems the right thing to do. I did entertain the thought of typing this post in French, but I need to accept my (current) limitations.