Monday, December 28, 2009
Yes, you read the title right. Never did I think I would say that especially when Kindles first came out several years ago, but after using one now since my parents got me one for Christmas, I can honestly say that I prefer reading books on the Kindle rather than reading them the traditional way. I wrote this realization on Twitter yesterday, and a lot of people wanted to know the "why" behind this. Here's my attempt to explain.
"Aren't You Going to Miss Traditional Books?"
I love books. I love having books. I love lining my bookshelves with books. But one thing that I love more than anything about books is actually reading them. One type of book that I love to read is that of theology. I have hardcover copies of John Owen's complete works including his set on Hebrews, John Calvin's commentaries, two sets of C.H. Spurgeon's sermons, a seven volume set of John Calvin's letters, and Francis Schaeffer's complete works just to name a few. I love these sets, but admittedly, they don't get read nearly as much as I'd like for them to be. Why? The main reason is because they stay in one location at all times: in my room. Sure, I can take a volume here and a volume there with me when I leave to go places, but the fact is if I want to read several books at a time (which is usually), it gets a bit awkward carrying three hardcover copies of books around in my bookbag especially if I'm travelling. Here's one of the main reasons I prefer the Kindle: portability which leads to productivity. Right now, I have 61 books on my Kindle. I find myself going to my parent's dock and reading out of 3-4 of them in a single sitting; something I would not have done with traditional books. Yesterday, I was traveling via plane. Before, I'd be quick to pull out my phone and check out the newsfeeds to see what was new, but yesterday I found myself going to books and reading information about such things as covenant theology and the like. For me, its led to more productivity in reading already because "when I get the itch" for a certain kind of book, its always there by my side to "scratch." There have been a few times that I've been reading in one book, and the author mentions another book that further explains the situation. Normally in a traditional book, I would have to write the name of the book and author down, search the internet for a cheap copy of it, pay for the book, pay shipping and handling, and wait several days to weeks for it to arrive so I can further investigate the point(s) the author raises. Not on the Kindle. It's connected to a 3G network provided by Sprint for free. This means that as soon as you want the book (without losing your place in the book because it automatically saves where you were ie. no more bookmarks), you go to the Amazon store or one of the many sites on the net that host free Kindle books like the gem Archive.org and download it (for free in many cases). Which brings me to the next point...
"I'm Skeptical About the Kindle Because it Costs $259.99."
The price for the Kindle is $259.99. It's a lot of money, I'd agree. However, since I've had the Kindle now for a total of three days, the Kindle has already paid for itself several times over literally. Let me explain.
Earlier, I mentioned Archive.org. If you haven't been to this treasure trove of information, I highly suggest you check it out. Currently they have 1.8 million books in their library, and they just recently started providing the Kindle format (.mobi) for their books. This literally means access to 1.8 million books for free. In the past several days, I got Thomas Goodwin's complete works (I've seen sold in HB for $300-400) for free, Calvin's Institutes (roughly $30 HB) for free, and John Bunyan's complete works ($115 on Amazon for HB) for free along with many other books. As if this weren't enough, from Amazon's Kindle store I also got Jonathan Edwards' works (around $55 HB) for $1.98 and the ESV Study Bible ($50 HB) for $9.99. That means for five grand theological works, I could have spent about $550-650 just on the hardcover books alone, but I ended up only having to spend $12 to get the same material. In other words, like I said: the Kindle pays for itself. So let's say I bought all the hardcover versions of these books (which I would have). Take how much the cost total: $550. Subtract the price of the Kindle ($260). Also subtract the total amount of money I've spent on the books in question ($12). 260+12=272. 550-272=278. Therefore, instead of blowing $260, I've actually saved more than the unit is worth ($278). And that's only naming 5 of the works out of the 61 I have on it now. That's pretty good numbers where I'm from.
"I Don't Know if I Can Stare at a Computer Screen that Long..."
This is one of the major detractions I hear when discussing the Kindle, but please allow me to put that fear to rest. The Kindle is developed with a screen that uses a technology called "e-ink". This is not your typical computer screen like you're probably reading this article off of now. The following is a crude analogy, but you can think the screen like that of an etch-a-sketch but a million times better. I remember the first time I saw the screen, I was in James White's office, and I thought the thing was turned off even though there were words on the screen. It just has a way of just having the words there without much "noise" from anything else going on within the screen or the unit itself. It's very easy on the eyes. The truth is, now that I've been reading on e-ink, again, I believe I prefer it to the traditional book. The background of the screen has a semi-grey tint to it that just makes it easier on my eyes than that of the traditional white/off-white backgrounds of most traditional books. I have longer stamina when reading a lot in one sitting, and I believe this is why. I also attribute this to the weight of the device. As I said, I currently have 61 books on mine (most are large theological works that number up to 800 pages each). I'm able to carry all this around with me at all times in a device that weighs only 10.2 ounces. That's less than the average paperback.
"What If I Lose My Kindle? Do I Lose the Books I've Bought, Too?"
The answer to this question is a relieving "No." You do not lose the books you purchase on Amazon. They are backed up on your account so you can send them to your Kindle at any time. I was even toying around with Kindle for PC, and the books I purchased from Amazon were automatically recognized and showed up there without me having to put forth any effort. Amazon is well aware of the potential hazard there, and they've made provisions to ensure it isn't a catastrophe were that to take place. For the books you get elsewhere like Archive.org, I would make a folder on your computer and keep them there for safe keeping. That way you don't have to redownload oodles of books. You could just transfer them over with a copy and paste via a usb cable. The mobi files from Archive.org are relatively small, too, so they won't take up much space on your harddrive. Speaking of harddrive, I have 61 books on my Kindle. It starts out with 1500mb of storage. I'm down to 1360mb. Storage space on the Kindle isn't a problem to say the least.
"I Just Love the Feel And Look of Traditional Books..."
I've heard this objection to the Kindle as well. One thing I've learned since yesterday when I first posted my statement about preferring Kindle eBooks over original ones is all of the many things people use books for other than reading. People told me that they love the smell, touch, feel, companionship, etc. of traditional books, and they just can't bring themselves to give that up for an electronic book. I heard one person say that the ebook is impersonal. I'm not going to argue this point. If you as a reader need all of these factors considered when you sit down with a book (or even if you just want to look at it sitting on your shelf) that is simply your prerogative, and I can honestly say that when I was first introduced to the notion of an eBook, I had the same reservations. However, I believe the best way this objection can be met will be by one actually using the Kindle for a significant amount of time (I'd say a day minimum). Those worries actually left me the more I quit admiring all the empirical things about a book and actually found that I was able to get more into what the books that I own actually say. In short, if you need a book for aesthetic reasons to touch, feel, taste, pet, etc. because you need that sense of companionship and/or you'd like to win friends and influence people when they enter a specific room in your house the few times (if that) they visit your house during your lifetime, then the traditional book is the way to go. If you need a book for the purpose of actual reading, the Kindle is the way to go.
"So What Can You Say in Your Conclusion to Convince Me to Get a Kindle?"
I was asked this, but I'm not sure that I can have one end all quote to give you that will make you realize what an invaluable asset to your studies this device really is. Consider the facts I've spoken about already, and see if that's something you believe would be beneficial to you not only in your daily life, but more importantly and specifically, in your daily walk with the Lord. If you don't believe it will be edifying, don't get it. If you're still skeptical, ask questions. If you're sold on it, I've provided a link at the bottom you can just click on and buy it outright. Like I said, I love mine, and I've even considered getting rid of some of my hardcovers now that I have many of them on my Kindle. It would certainly give me more space to work with. I also got the Belkin Neoprene Case for it. I'll talk more about this after the link to the Kindle. I have the 6" version of the Kindle, by the way. There is also a DX available that has a larger screen. I have not used the DX yet.
If you get this, you're going to need a case for it. There's no way around it. What Amazon delivers to you is the Kindle, the wall charger and a folding instruction manual. That's it. The case is the only thing I foresee that you'd really need. For that, allow me to suggest the Belkin Neoprene Case. This is the one I got for Christmas. It is compact and sturdy. It also has a good synthetic leather wrapping around it allowing for a better grip. There are different cases out there, though. James White has one that allows the Kindle to be clamped at all times to the case. If that's what you'd like, Amazon has their own leather case, and there are also various other types to choose from. However, if you like to use your Kindle freely in your hand like myself, I don't think you can go wrong with the Belkin. Here's the link to it. (If you click on this link and look at the bottom of the page, you should see that someone has done a video review of this case. I agree with his points.)