Well, I decided to finally join the technological revolution and buy myself a Kindle. The thing that swayed me was the fact that you can get them on Amazon now for $79, which is really inexpensive (heck, it’s pretty much a tank of gas these days).
I, of course, got the cheapest possible one. This was because I wanted to force myself to actually use the device for the purpose that it was intended for…to read books! I didn’t want to get the fire because that has all this web browsing capability and with distractions like that, I’d never get around to reading.
But in any case, I think the Fire is out of line with what has made the Kindle so successful. The thing that’s neat about a Kindle is the E ink display that doesn’t glare and which is VERY easy on the eyes. Believe me, I’ve read a lot of books on computer screens (for editing purposes, I’ve had to go through my own books several times), and at the end of the day, your eyes get tired. The Kindle isn’t luminescent, and if you don’t have light reflecting off it, it’s too dark to read. The whole concept is that reflected light is easier on the eye than direct light like you get from staring at a computer monitor, and so far (at least in my limited experience reading the Kindle) this appears to be true.
I figured for $79, it was definitely worth giving this device a try, and it is. Amazon is clever about their marketing, and they make the arrival of your device something of an event. The packaging is minimalist, and sort of like a shipable version of something Apple might design. The device itself is virtually weightless and slick as hell. Like I said, I ordered the “bare bones” version with no keyboard or touchscreen, and so far I’m finding the tiny control pad to be quite intuitive to operate.
The main reason I needed a Kindle was because a lot of people have been sending me .pdfs of their book to read and review. I admit that it took me a little while to figure out how to get these .pdfs on my device. Unfortunately it wasn’t as easy as plugging your unit into your computer and simply dragging those files to it like it was a USB drive.
However, once you know the procedure, Amazon does make it easy to send documents to your device. What you do is you send your Kindle an email and Amazon automatically converts your .pdf attachment to a Kindle readable format. You simply have to find the unique email that is assigned to your personal Kindle. This is easy. Once the device is registered on Amazon, you hit the “menu” key on the home page, scroll down to “settings” and then find your email under the “send-to-Kindle E-mail” heading on the second page. If you send your Kindle a .pdf, it arrives directly to your device within five minutes or so.
Essentially this means that this device is a must-have piece of equipment for a writer (I wonder if I can deduct the purchase price on my income taxes?).
Once I realized I could email books to my Kindle, I informed my publisher that he should send me all his upcoming releases so I can read them and write reviews. I then gave them my Kindle email, but, again, it wasn’t quite as simple. You see, Amazon protects you against any old idiot filling up your device with unwanted documents. So in order to accept emails from somebody, you have to go into your Kindle account on Amazon, and approve the email of the sender. Here is the procedure (taken directly from the Amazon help page):
To approve the sender’s e-mail address:
1. Visit Manage Your Kindle page.
2. Sign-in to Amazon account.
3. Go to “Personal Document Settings” under “Your Kindle Account”.
4. Under “Approved Personal Document E-mail List” click “Add a new approved e-mail address”.
5. Enter the e-mail address to approve and select “Add Address.”
6. Instruct the sender to resend the document.
So just from this, I was able to get about 15 books onto my device instantly. But that’s not the end of the Kindle’s greatness.
The second you buy a Kindle, you can go onto the “store” option of the home page and do a search for “free Kindle books,” and let me tell you, there are THOUSANDS!!!
I didn’t realize what a fuddy duddy I was until I discovered all of the books that are available for free for a Kindle. Amazingly, almost all of the CLASSICS are there! I guess as an English literature major, I tend to gravitate towards classics, but all these years I’ve been foolishly wasting thousands of dollars because all you need to do is get a Kindle and you can download them for free.
For example, I’ve never read “The Jungle Book” by Ruydard Kipling, but I have enough respect for him as a writer that I was excited to see it on the Free Kindle store. So I downloaded it, and then my wife happened to pick up my device and read the whole book while I was out working over the weekend.
I seriously doubt there will ever be a need to purchase ANY book for your Kindle. By the time you’ve read everything that’s free, you will be a very well-educated person.
This got me to thinking what a great resource this device is for schools. When you’re teaching a book(in high school), you always have to buy a class set of books for the students to use. This is, of course, very expensive. However, if schools were to just buy all their students Kindles, they essentially have just purchased class sets of THOUSANDS of literary titles! Isn’t that an Amazing thought? How come I haven’t heard anybody talking about this? This tiny little $79 device has just made it possible for teachers to plan curriculums in which they cover 1000 times as many books as they’ve ever been practically able to delve into before!
The other side of this is that the Kindle is so light you should be able to buy all textbooks in electronic format and keep tiny kids from having to lug 80 lbs worth of books around. Seriously, have you ever seen tiny little kids try to stumble home with the four giant tombs that contain the single chapter of assigned reading they’re supposed to cover in the evening? It’s amazing more kids don’t develop back problems.
Know, I know for a fact that devices exist which can scan papers and then convert those scans to .pdfs, and if that’s the case, you should be able to scan a single textbook and then just ship it out to all your students. I’m sure this breaks about fifty million copywrite laws, but, hey, EVERYBODY breaks all the laws today now don’t they? I mean, it’s not like you’re likely to receive the pension you were promised when you started working thirty years ago, or that social security is going to be there when you retire (even though you’ve been paying into it your whole life), so who gives a shit if some corrupt textbook publishing corporation that charges $175 for each of their books (because they know schoolboards can get the money) only sells one copy instead of 500? Or heck, for some classes you should be able to obtain an older text book that is still completely functional, I mean, how much has 4th grade math changed over the years? Grab a textbook from 1942, hell, it’s probably more comprehensive than the modern ones, and if the copywrite has expired, it’s all perfectly legal.
Anyway, it just seems to me that the Kindle is an amazing tool for bringing impoverished people a tremendous education. For some reason, however, this hasn’t been discussed much in the US media (probably because everything’s already been bought and paid for in the US).
Well, perhaps when I return to Peru it will be with thirty or forty Kindles. Seriously, I could teach some pretty magnificent classes with that little device. If you’ve ever been inclined to start living life out of a back-pack, a Kindle is a VITAL piece of equipment.
By the way, I have two books available on Kindle, you should order them both right now.
The above links go directly to the Kindle edition…why are you reading this, click on them, buy them!!!