In honor of NaNoWriMo, I decided to read a novel this month. Many years ago, I read quite a few books in a year’s time, although far fewer than the prolific readers I know. For about five years now, reading online, especially short, newsy items, has eroded my interest in sitting and just reading one thing for an hour or more.
Interestingly, Amazon’s Kindle may have changed that, but not in the way you or Amazon might expect. (And, it remains too soon to tell.) I have never been one to buy a new book, except in college. I bought used paperbacks, but most of my reading has consisted of library books. Praise be to the public library! (How have the penny-pinchers not shut them down … yet?) A year or so ago, I bought a Viewsonic gTablet. More recently, I downloaded the free Kindle software to the tablet. Finally, I figured out how to download books from the library for free! It’s not quite as easy as it should be, though quicker than a trip to the library. Checkout is just for 10 days, instead of two or three weeks – why? Unfortunately, there are far fewer electronic books than real at the library, but I found Nevada Barr’s Borderline.
When I was a real reader, I went through a detective / mystery phase, during which I read Nevada Barr. She knows how to write tension-inducing scenes, although she may string too many of those together. In Borderline, heroine Anna Pidgeon suffers a series of exhausting travails, any one of which would wipeout most people. In the end, Barr goes a little overboard, but it was a virtual-page-turner.
For the most part, I like reading on the tablet and would not miss paper. I like being able to highlight, note, bookmark, and look up words instantly. Holding the tablet wasn’t any more awkward than holding a thick book.
I’ve also used the Kindle software to read a chapter or two of half a dozen books that I would have to pay for (and won’t). That was kinda cool.
One gripe about the Kindle software: although I am an Amazon Prime member, I do not get access to the Kindle library exchange. Amazon wants to sell Kindles. Given Amazon’s crappy selection and worse interface for video (it stinks), I gotta wonder what Prime gets me, especially after my one-day package delivery was flubbed.