I’ve now had my Kindle for just over 12 months — it was last year’s Christmas gift from my wonderful wife — and I can quite honestly say that it’s completely changed the way I read.
I’ve always been a keen reader, but sometimes found it difficult to find time to read while also having a book available. I also tended only to buy books one at a time when I was in a physical bookshop. As a consequence, most of my reading happened at home, either in bed or in the bath, and I would get through books at around one a month.
Since getting my Kindle (well, since first getting the Kindle app for iPhone 14 months ago) I have read 45 books. I never used to read non-fiction books, but have just finished my third of the last few months. My decision on what to read next would generally wait until I’d finished my last book, but now I have 14 books waiting to be read and about another 20 on an Amazon wishlist waiting to be purchased.
What’s caused this change? As you might guess, it’s a combination of several things. Compared to a paper book, my Kindle weighs almost nothing, so I can slip it in a bag or a pocket. I can hold it in one hand while drinking tea, or lie on my back and read, both of which I found too tiring to do with paper books.
I also have iPhone and desktop Kindle apps, which are always in sync. I always have my current book with me, so I have many more opportunities to read.
When I finish a book, I can immediately start the next, whether I have one already lined up or I need to go online and buy one. I’ve basically turned into a chain-reader, going from book to book without pause.
Irritatingly, the prices do not reflect the near-zero marginal cost of distributing digital content — if you shift content in the volume that Amazon can, your income is almost pure profit.
However, digital books are still cheaper than the print editions. The difference for popular fiction is pretty small, but I appreciate it nonetheless. For specialist non-fiction, on the other hand, where low volumes make print copies prohibitively expensive, digital editions come at a significant discount — often half price or better in my experience.
I actually wrote the entire first draft of this post without mentioning either screen quality or battery life. Both are so good that it didn’t even occur to me to mention them.
There are downsides too. Because I’m locked into Amazon’s infrastructure, I can’t lend books to friends or family (this feature still hasn’t been enabled outside the US). I also can’t donate books to charity shops once I’ve finished them.
Both of these facts still make me uneasy, and I’m not sure that I want all my books to be controlled by a single company for the rest of my life. And I haven’t even started on the problem of how many books I need to read on Kindle to break even on the carbon footprint, or even whether that’s possible.
That said, my pragmatic side is winning at the moment. Reading on Kindle just works, and it seems to suit my lifestyle much better than books made of dead tree.
I know a lot of people have been given Kindles this Christmas, so I’d love to know if any of my readers have thoughts on this.