Today’s post was going to be about how I finished watching The Sarah Connor Chronicles and how, OMG, I can’t believe the series ends there, and I love it and I hate it, and. . .well, I’ll wait on that. I promise a Terminator-universe loving, FOX network haging post, soon.

But I’ll put that aside for the moment to talk very briefly about my experience with the Amazon Kindle e-reader. I’ve seen a few references that the order-for-Christmas window is closing, and gotten some questions about how I like the Kindle I bought a few weeks ago. So I’ll answer briefly in a post.

Basically, I love it. I have to thank Kelly Stephenson at the great multi-dimensional website Murmur for talking it up on a podcast and inspiring me to take the plunge. (Digresses for a second to plug the Murmur podcasts; I’m usually wary of listening to ‘casts that cover multiple subjects because I anticipate having to fastforward a lot through things I don’t really care about. But Murmur’s rotating cast of hosts does such a great job of keeping things lively and interesting, that they trick me into learning about things I didn’t think I cared about, like Blu-Ray players and baking).

Back to the matter at hand: I love the Kindle, and it’s great for what I want to use it for. That’s the caveat with any gadget, I think — what do you think you’ll do with it? I got the small-size model. I’ve seen and used a large one, and it gives you a bigger screen which would certainly be better for visuals and for textbooks. But it costs a lot more, and is less portable. Cost and portability were my priorities. (ETA: I should emphasize the thing isn’t cheap. There is no good reason I should pay $250 so I don’t have to carry books around, especially for a device and format that might not stand the test of time. This is a toy, and I’m not going to pretend it’s a necessity. Toys are nice sometimes, though).

I like to read, I also tend to have a short attention span and flip between a lot of things at once. This can be a pain when I’m traveling, or when I just can’t figure what I did with the book that was consuming all of my attention three days ago. For this purpose, having many books at the same time at my finger tips, Kindle is perfect for this. The first things I bought were a subscription to the New Yorker and the Complete Works of William Shakespeare ($2.00 to have it with table of contents, which is probably a good bet with that many pages; as a sidenote, this also featured the best Amazon user review I’ve ever read: “This is pretty good, if you like Shakespeare.”)

I’ve also read a couple (shortish) books already, and I’m pretty sure that Kindle has a positive effect on my reading speed. I haven’t read any science on this, but basically, I’m looking at a fairly small number of words on a small screen. From what I remember from speedreading classes, one of the techniques they teach is to cover part of the page and look at as small a group of words at a time as you can. This is basically what the Kindle does — not that I bought my Kindle specifically with reading speed in mind, but it’s an interesting side effect. At least for me, this is basically the opposite of reading on a computer, where the screen is SO big that I have to make a conscious effort to read every word or it’s Skim City.

I have a hypothesis — I really shouldn’t use ‘theory’ for my uninformed guesses; I shouldn’t even really use ‘hypothesis’ because it’s not like I’m going to test it; what’s a word for an idea you like to run your mouth about because it seems clever but you don’t plan to make any effort to figure out whether it’s true? I have one of those — that one of the reasons that debate on the Internet can be so obnoxious is that it takes effort to make yourself read every word on a computer screen. So when people seem to be responding to things they didn’t actually read closely, or at all, so that there that may in fact be what is happening. I certainly don’t mean to suggest that any of my readers have done this though I know that I have but it’s a reasonable way of explaining the world.

Anyway. Reading on a Kindle might be a lot more like reading on a page, and thus a lot more like actual reading, than what we do with our computers. I like what I do with my computer, obviously, but I’m not sure it’s exactly the same thing as reading. So I actually see the Kindle’s small screen size as an advantage. Add to that, it’s not backlit like a computer screen, and while that takes some getting used to, it’s easier on the eyes in the long run. (You can also adjust text size; I read with the largest font/fewest words on screen that I can get — this means that I flip a lot, but I actually like that pretty well, and most books have chapter divisions indicated at the bottom of the page to show you how far there is to go).

When talking about the reasons I like a Kindle, I should emphasize this is my first e-reader and my first real experience with ebooks. So if you’ve already got a collection and are worried about transferring files, I don’t have helpful advice. There is supposed to be a function to mail PDF files to yourself and open them, but I haven’t tried to use it yet. What it is good for is buying things directly off Amazon — via a wireless connection — quickly and efficiently. This means you’re more or less stuck with what Amazon has to offer, so flip through the Kindle store on the site and see how it suits you. They certainly don’t have everything I want to read, but there’s a fair amount, and for me the question is, “Can I get enough reading material on here to keep me busy at any given time?” So far that’s working out. In fact, I already have a stack.

You guys, I am sorry, this is the worst product review ever. But it is a pretty good post about my neuroses, and also how much I like my Kindle. And that’s what a blog is for, right?

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