Thursday, May 3, 2012

I'm kindling.

I bought an iPad when it first came out, and have been very happy with it. I saw no need to replace it with a newer iPad, or any of its competitors.

However, now that I am publishing more and more e-books, I felt it was important to add to my hardware arsenal so I could see my books as readers see them. Last week I ordered a Kindle Fire from Amazon, and 17 hours later it was here -- all charged up and ready to go.

I was really impressed with the quick setup. I simply entered my Amazon ID and password, and it instantly showed all of the e-books I previously downloaded to other devices. To read any of them, I just tap a cover and wait a few seconds. The books even open to the last page I read on my iPad or PC. The visual image seems as good as on my iPad.

The top-left of the screen says "Michael's Kindle." Very cool.

At first the Kindle seemed too small compared to my iPad, but now I think it's right-sized. I'm carrying it around more than I carried my iPad, and it's easy to balance on the steering wheel of my car (no, not while I'm driving).

Only quibble so far is that the Fire seems heavy for its size, but I suppose most of the weight is battery, and power is important. I got used to it. I've been Kindling for a week and still have plenty of power from the first charge -- much better than my iPad or Samsung smart phone.

The Fire starts up ("ignites?") much faster than my iPad or phone. Automatic software updates are impressive, too. Apparently Jeff Bezos is always watching over me. That's OK.

There doesn't seem to be a way to display two pages in a horizontal "spread" like my iPad can, and there doesn't seem to be a way to replicate the iPad's cool animated iBook page flipping.

I'm amazed at the huge amount of free content and 99-cent e-books that Amazon supplies -- plus magazines, newspapers, games and apps -- and Amazon's free lending library, too.

With Amazon's "Prime" program, Kindle owners can now choose from over a hundred thousand books to borrow for free including over 100 current and former New York Times Bestsellers –- as frequently as a book a month, with no due dates. Many public libraries loan e-books, too.

I long ago stopped borrowing physical books from libraries because of the anoying requirement that they be returned. Over the years I pissed off a lot of librarians, paid a lot of fines, and was even banned from one library. In 2002 I returned a bunch of books that were borrowed before the day when the librarian who checked them in was born. She did not know how to calculate the fine, but she giggled and called over some other librarians to giggle with her.

I definitely like being able to read books in color, and am nearly finished producing my first colorful e-book. I may revise some of my existing e-books to provide color illustrations and photos, too. I feel sorry for readers with ancient monochorome screens. The world is colorful. Books can be, too.

(Illustration of fake e-book at top was made with Microsoft clip art and MyECoverMaker.)

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