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Wednesday, 10 August 2016


I recently bought my first Kindle device; not, I hasten to add the first e-reading device I've had, but definitely the first Kindle.

I've used the Kindle software on other devices, PC, laptop, tablet and occasionally grappled with the smartphone variant, with varying degrees of success.

The Kindle was brought to replace a Kobo mini; for what it is, a reasonably satisfactory device but the kobo had it's limitations.

The Kobo's limitations were not with the machine, but the operator. Compact, genuinely pocket sized, excellent battery life - something in the region of thirty days - and a reasonably clear screen. It's limitation was down to the size. The black and white format wasn't always the best combination for my needs.

You have no doubt noticed the spectacles on the mugshot at the top of the page. They have been  a constant companion since the age of about 11, to overcome short sightedness and the accompanying difficulties.

I struggle in low light conditions, not so much in the dark, but the half light, dusk, that lies between day and night. Focusing becomes a problem, so a small page size means larger text and less words per page to read comfortably, or some means of shifting the contrast to make the text stand out more. With the Kobo I needed good light, full daylight or a suitable artificial light source. Hence the shift to another more versatile device.

Why the kindle? Availability and price. The local superstore had It in stock and the cost wasn't going to break the bank. A penny under sixty pounds; £59.99, I could have purchased it on line for £10 less, but it wasn't worth mucking about.

Specifically, the device is a 5th Generation, 2015 Kindle Fire 7 inch tablet. It is far more than an e-reader, the bag of apps that could stuffed inside when you switch it on definitely make it a tablet. The linking to an Amazon account and the familiar links to suggested purchases and the whispersync download to Kindle purchases take it a step further than a straightforward e-reading device. This is a marketing tool geared to maintaining the purchasers connection with Amazon.

Does this sound like I'm not happy with the purchase? Generally speaking I am happy, it does what I want it to do, not always as simply as I would like, unless I haven't found it yet, it doesn't seem capable of searching the device for eBooks and importing them, requiring a transfer via a dedicated email created as part of the set-up process. Hey, it's early days and I'm still getting to know the device.

So why am I writing this post, it came out of a conversation a day or so ago. The scenario is familiar, person spotted reading from a device and the conversation turns around to books and the comparison between hard copy and digital screen.

Not so long ago, genuinely, the temperature may have been higher in the conversation but things have mellowed and the reason behind the softening, the easing of tension is the practicality.

I love books, the weight in my hand, the texture of the paper. The zen of the whole thing, you know what I mean. The feel, you know this; six apparently identical books on a shelf and every one of them has to be handled, probably more than once to find The One before it is carried to the till and purchased. (It's OK to admit it, I understand!)

The e-reader wins hands down on convenience; lightweight, compact and adjustable. The flexibility of the page, changing the font size, page colour and brightness; margins, line spacing and page flipping - flicking ahead through the book you're reading as the Kindle remembers where you were. Bookmarks at the touch of a finger. Personally I find it an easier experience and with the greater versatility of the Kindle I have rediscovered the delight of reading and the direct WiFi linkage does help expand the library.

An inexpensive leather case to wrap around the outside of the device, nothing too fancy gives the device a bookish feel. There is room for choice; don't leave the book, the real ink and paper article but give the eBook a chance if you haven't already tried it. Borrow one from a friend. Work the two together and make your own reading experience, once you've found the device that suits you.

I don't see the reading device as a replacement for the book, but a compliment to it. Paper or digital, most of all the point is to enjoy the read.

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