I know that many of you readers already know about e-books, because sometime between the early days, when the e-book landed on the digital landscape (Amazon released the Kindle in 2007, and Barnes and Noble followed with the Nook in 2009) and the present, you ran out and bought one; while we procrastinators held back. So this commentary is not for you pioneers. It is simply to enlighten my uninformed Johnny-and-Jill-come-lately cohorts, who have not yet submerged themselves in the digital pool.
In simple layperson’s terms, the Kindle Fire is an e-book reader, an electronic version of a printed book. Now, I will tell you why I am tickled pink — err, make that tan — about it.
As my son predicted, KF solved my book storage problem. But unfortunately, it did not cure my addiction, because now I buy and read more books, e-books that is, and at a faster pace than before. I recently saw a promo ad that said the KF will hold 6000 books. Hold up, wait a minute, I’d have to be a reading fool to download that many books, unless I have a joint bank account with Jeff Bezos. (Founder and CEO of Amazon.com.)
My Kindle Fire has many features that I enjoy. Aside from the nice crisp colors on the touchscreen, there is a nifty text-to-speech function. While the reader’s voice is not distractingly robotic it is not precisely Audible book quality either. There are some occasional, figurative hiccups, as when the elocution is interrupted by the inability of the automated reader to decipher certain words. Recently, I was listening to a book, while simultaneously reading along, and the reader read St. Louis as Street Louis. Resume — as in a job application — was pronounced resume, like let’s resume reading this story. And there were occasional inadvertent pauses and restarts, like the abbreviation for Doctor of Philosophy. PhD was read as ph — pause, as if the “h” ended the sentence. D was then read as if it were the first word of the following sentence. But such tiny glitches I could overlook.
The audio-text feature advances each page automatically; however, when the audio is muted – my preference – I must touch the screen to turn the page. An adjustable backlight makes reading easier, and it is an excellent feature when reading in a darkened room if you don’t want to disturb your spouse.
What impresses me most is the fact that KF downloads a book in mere seconds; and when I recently closed my Audible account, I was able to download and use my accumulated Audible credits on my KF. Since Audible books are designed specifically for listening, the KF reads them smoothly as you would normally expect to hear a proficient reader read.
My KF is about 7 ½ X 4 ½ inches. When I bought it, I also purchased a nifty rotatable, firm, leather cover that not only protects my device, but allows me to prop it up and read hands free. With the KF secured by brackets on the cover, I position it on a table or on my bed, and then rotate the cover in either landscape or portrait format, and then tuck the Kindle behind one of the grooves designed to hold it in place. When the cover is closed, it actually looks like a hardcover book.
In my bound books, I frequently highlight words or write in the margins, a practice that I thought I would miss when using an e-book. Little did I know that by merely touching the screen on my KF, holding my finger in place for a few seconds, and then moving my finger over the words, it highlights them. Not only can I highlight, there is an additional component; comparable to scribbling in the margins of a real book. I merely select “Notes” which brings up a large keyboard, and then I key in what I would have scribbled on paper. Yahoo!
If I don’t feel like reading, I can listen to music, play games, read magazines and newspapers, and even watch videos on my KF. I take it nearly everywhere I go if I expect to spend at least an hour waiting some place. While the 8 hour battery charge may not last during a transatlantic flight, like my brother and sister-in-law took recently to South Africa, it’s sufficient to keep me entertained during visits to my doctor’s office or while riding during short trips.
KF comes with a micro USB charger, but does not include a wall charger or power adapter. However, if you own an iPhone you can use the adapter that came with it on your KF, or you can buy a wall wart charger made specifically for KF. Either way, charging via a wall socket works much faster than using the USB port on the computer.
I hope that I have provided my friends who are avid readers with sufficient information to consider stepping outside your comfort zone; and if you don’t already have an e-book consider buying one, or at least put it on your bucket list.