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A Librarian’s Kindle Review

I have a new mistress.

At 7.5″ tall and weighing in at an alarming 8.7 ounces, she’s not as tall or curvy as I usually like, but I think it could be love. My wife invited her–I call her Kindle–into our relationship last night for an early Father’s Day present. I didn’t get much sleep but I don’t regret it. A massive infusion of B vitamins usually gets me back on my feet.

In December I will be celebrating my 34th anniversary with my first love. I made it for over 33 years without cheating.

I swore that I would never want one. I would never wander. Not with my heart, my eyes, or my fingers.

But I was still up at 2 AM pushing buttons and fumbling around, amazed at how something as familiar as reading could seem so new. So responsive and accessible. (And during breaks she brought me some free word games to play with, the bookworm’s equivalent of “get me a beer”).

I’d done it thousands and thousands of times, although I’ll admit I’m rarely at it past midnight anymore, and I don’t read quite as much as I did as a younger man.

I swore that I would never stray away from the smells of old books and the rustle of yellowed, oft-turned pages. I would never crave any satisfactions that I couldn’t get from the books I had committed to as a child.

I fought it as long as I could. One by one, my objections fell. To be fair, most of these were simply things I heard by hysterical book lovers and librarians:

  • The Kindle will consume libraries and you’ll be out of a job
  • The Amazon Kindle will put authors out of work because it will make it possible for everyone to steal their books in digital format
  • The Kindle eats children
  • Gaddafi is a huge fan of The Kindle. So was Saddam. So is Mugabe. Ditto for the Countess of Bathory and Lizzie Borden
  • It devalues books
  • They’re not real books
  • It will make it too easy for any author to publish his or her crap. That’s a loss for readers
  • Reading on a Kindle is a sin – it is the most popular gadget in Hell
  • When you download a book from Whispernet, a baby deer dies
  • It’s cold and clinical and there’s no charm, none of the warmth associated with pleasure reading
  • But but but you have to buy all the books

So be it. I’d rather see it all burn down around me then go back.

I’m on break at work right now and all I think about is getting home, lying back in bed with enough lamplight to see what I’m working with, and getting after it again.

It doesn’t mean that I’ll be getting rid of the thousands of books I have in my basement, or that I’ll quit bringing books home from the library. I’ll turn pages, break spines, accidentally give myself papercuts, and I’ll enjoy it all.

Amazon Kindle

Amazon Kindle - Josh, come back to bed!

But after this long I’ll do whatever I have to to keep things spicy. And lest you judge me too harshly, remember: it was my wife’s idea.

Anything that feels this good can’t be a sin. And it is a fairly cheap date, considering what you get. Give it a click over there. You’ll see.




Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Iain D June 14, 2011, 10:15 am

    I got one for Xmas. They really are great. I’d say about half my books are from the Kindle now; the balance are from the library.

  • Paul June 14, 2011, 10:56 am

    Your Kindle is 7 feet 5 inches tall? I have an android tablet that has the Kindle app and an epub reader installed. I usually have a terrible time keeping up with characters in a story. One thing I love with the eReader is the search function. I can quickly search for the character in the previous pages, get reacquainted and get back to my current page.

    • Josh Hanagarne June 14, 2011, 11:02 am

      WOW. Good catch, Paul. 7.5 inches. Inches inches inches.

      • Paul June 14, 2011, 12:07 pm

        Kind of like a ‘Spinal Tap’ moment there, lol.

  • Eric | Eden Journal June 14, 2011, 12:20 pm

    I’ve been wanting a Kindle for a long time, but I just can’t justify the cost. It would take a lot of book purchases to equal the initial investment. I have it on my Amazon wish list though, just in case someone feels like buying one for me.

    • Josh Hanagarne June 14, 2011, 3:09 pm

      Eric! Look behind you! If there’s a Kindle there, The Secret works. I just sent you one.

  • Patrick Tracy June 14, 2011, 12:41 pm

    I have a Nook Color and I quite like it. As with you, I don’t plan on giving up books, but it’s great to pull down a few ebooks and have them at the ready on a little device that’ll also play music, browse the web, etc.

  • Iain D June 14, 2011, 2:04 pm

    @Patrick. I actually find I hardly ever use the web browsing side of the device. For me it’s a single use device, which is rare. I can’t read books on my computer; it’s too easy to get side tracked by other stuff.

    • Josh Hanagarne June 14, 2011, 3:10 pm

      I think that’s how it will be for me. As much as I like my iPad, I think I’ve only finished one book on it. There are just too many ways to get distracted.

  • Beth L. Gainer June 14, 2011, 3:11 pm

    Hey Josh,

    I just got a Kindle for my b-day and am soooo excited!! Here’s another advantage to the Kindle over paper books: less room needed for bookshelves and the like.

    Right now I’m busy writing my own book to read too many others, but the Kindle is giving me reasons to read more again!

  • Heather June 14, 2011, 5:36 pm

    Well, THIS librarian LOOOOOOOOOOOOVES her Kindle. I bought mine shortly after Christmas. It’s true that it is the most popular gadget in Hell, but it’s a KITTEN that dies every time you download something from Whispernet. And I LOVES that Whispernet! But seriously. . .. I use mine for the FREE STUFF on Amazon, most of which isn’t bad. You can also get to many classics via bartleby.com and Project Gutenberg. I even got a special library-themed skin for mine. However—because of the way I would have to set up an Amazon account for our students, I think I much prefer the iPad with the free Kindle or iBooks reading app for our students. I just can’t justify using ONE VENDOR for stuff. It’s the ONLY BUY FROM AMAZON gig that kind of puts me off the Kindle for students, because I much prefer using Follett’s Titlewave service, as well as buying from some local vendors and keeping most of our print resources handy for students who don’t have net access at home. There was a high school principal who recently got a Rotten Apple Award for getting rid of ALL his school library’s print resources (a bit extreme, but really NOT Rotten Apple-worthy, IMHO) and replacing it with–electronic book readers such as the iPad and the Kindle. Personally, I think if it influences a kid to read, and if that kid won’t break his back in half by jamming another book that outweighs him by 100 pounds into his book-bag, then I’m all for it–even if it means he can download it onto his own device. That, to me, is totally cool, and the beginning of a kid’s own education.

  • cinderkeys June 15, 2011, 1:24 am

    Hmm. I mourn the eventual demise of the print book for illogical, emotional reasons. The book smell, the feel of the book in your hands, blah blah blah. I’ve also wondered how layout design would affect the reading experience. Aren’t all Kindle layouts the same font?

    If you’re that enamored, though, then I have hope. Because print books are gonna die. It’s just a matter of time.

    • Heather June 15, 2011, 10:16 am


      You can change fonts and font sizes as well. Youc an even get a fancy-schmancy Kindle that does color. But that one’s expensive.

      • cinderkeys June 15, 2011, 11:33 am

        This is what interests me, though. I design books for a living. When I choose fonts, I do so with an eye to what will be appropriate for the book. The typefaces help set the tone.

        So, with default fonts standardized, and readers choosing finds solely for easy readability (instead of easy readability and tone), will the reading experience be the same?

        So far I’ve heard two opinions, one for and one against. The one against was by some writer whose name I’ve long forgotten. He said that a passage he found really funny in a print book wasn’t funny on the Kindle. The one for came from a former coworker. She said Dostoevsky was a lot less intimidating and more readable when she had the ability to increase the font size!

  • John June 15, 2011, 6:35 am

    I was with you for a long time Josh, but I got a Kindle for Christmas last year and i love it! I had about a two month span where I was traveling heavily for work, and it was a life saver. Being able to bring five or six books on a trip in the palm of my hand made the trips so much easier.

  • We Fly Spitfires June 15, 2011, 7:10 am

    I love my Kindle. Love it, love it, love it. I know traditionalists dislike the concept but I can honestly say that it’s encouraged me to read more since I got it. A big motivator for me getting one was when I was reading Under The Dome hardback and had to lug a gigantic brick around with me wherever I went. Now I read anything, anywhere, anytime. I really think it’s going to change the way we view books in the years to come.

  • Courtney June 15, 2011, 9:30 am

    I guess the thing holding me back from a Kindle is the price. Even if I score one for $200, I get an entire grocery bag of books from library sales for $2.

    At 20 books per bag (easy, with paperbacks), I’d have to read ONE THOUSAND books on my Kindle to make it worth the money. And that’s assuming I don’t pay for any of the books!

    I just can’t see it being worth it, and I’m the most technophile person ever.

  • Danielle June 16, 2011, 6:41 am

    I have had my Precious for almost 3 years and love it so. I sometimes forget I am reading a device and flip it over to read the back cover synopsis.

  • Steve M June 16, 2011, 7:46 am

    I’m a little late getting into this conversation, but I wanted to weigh in with a couple of thoughts. Though it was published 17 years ago (eons in terms of the current pace of technological development), Sven Birkert’s The Gutenberg Elegies, The Fate of Reading in an Electronic Age still contains some of the best insights and deepest wisdom regarding the printed word. I would suggest that the book is worth revisiting (or visiting for the first time) when thinking about the Kindle, etc. Also some of the essays in Birkert’s Readings, particularly the one titled Against the Current which opens: “There was a time when I used to be able to read poetry – read it with a zeal and comprehension that quickened my whole life – and now I can’t.”

    It’s more than sentimentality or nostaligia, it’s a heartfelt lamentation for the loss of things vital to human beings.

  • Justin Matthews June 16, 2011, 1:10 pm

    Hey Josh. I have to echo many of the others here, I didn’t think I wanted a Kindle until my daughter got one for Christmas, and then I had to have one. I have downloaded a ton of free classics from Amazons site that I probably would never have even heard of before.
    I also put all of the free pdf books and online business education ebooks from my computer on the kindle so I can read them wherever I get a hankerin’ to. Since last christmas, I have only purchased 4 books, the rest are free.
    I also found a service called deliver reads that sends you 4-5 articles each week from magazines or newspapers. Some have been very interesting so far. it is free at http://delivereads.com/ this is not an affiliate link, just a service.
    Another thing I like about kindle is being able to email myself my current writing so that I can remember which story I am working on! sometimes I get confused in the details of a story when I have several going on at once.
    I also have a leather case for sale if you don’t have one!

  • Dan Szepesi June 19, 2011, 9:32 pm

    I really love the feel of books, love their permanence and that i can curl up in bed with them but …. OMG….I can get any book I want, with the push of a button? And its here now? And I can read (and carry with me) three books at once?

    I am SOOOO glad to see this post because I kept having guilty thoughts about how I was shoving a knife in your back everytime I used it.

    First Kindle book that i read was War and Peace and I read it on the Kindle app on my Windows Phone (and it was still amazing)!

  • Ashley June 21, 2011, 6:03 am

    I travel so much and have so little room that this is like having a whole library in my ruck sack. I do love the feel of a book but after getting the Kindle (last week) I’m not sure I can justify the space and weight.