It was cold in Hiroshima and we had been wandering around a lot on Miyajima island so we decided do have some rest time in the hotel in the evening - Dennis with his music and a book and me with the complimentary Internet. A good opportunity, I thought, to look into these Kindle things.
Now I already understood that the major plus of these things is that it saves you weight when you travel. So you might think that my research was a bit late. But, for most of this trip we have not been weight challenged and when we realised needed to slim down for our forthcoming two economy trips we decided to gift some read paperbacks to relatives or hotel receptionists or waitresses - anyone who said they would enjoy them. One I sold to a second hand shop to fund a new purchase. Granted, it was a bit painful to give away such a beautiful item as a book, but if I want to read them again I can have a new copy at very little cost and I know that they are being appreciated more probably by their new owners than they would have been sitting on my shelf at home.
But there are lots of Kindle owners and not all of them are travelling so there must be more to this Kindle thing than lightness. I did some online research and the basic points seem to be these:
1. Kindle books are cheaper than actual books.
This may be true. Except that you cannot loan, regift, or sell them. So you are getting less value for less money. Nor can you touch them, smell them or weigh them in your hand. That these latter qualities were important to Dennis and I was emphasised when we both found ourselves lingering in an Japanese bookstore where we did not understand a word of the content just because books were so - well beautiful. No matter how streamlined, the same cannot be said for a Kindle. Further, the new bigger, better Kindle costs $489. That means I have to read a lot of books before I save the cost of the machine that gives me the savings on the books. And by then a bigger, better more expensive one will be out. And before then the Apple Tablet will be out to complicate things even more.
2. You can get Kindle books in 60 seconds.
This is I admit a huge plus for an impatient reader. Less so for someone who already has a stockpile of books to get through and who never forgets to take one with her. I frequently pack three in a case and one in my handbag just for an overnight business trip. I am never going to be bookless for having to wait the whole 24 hours it takes to get a real one in the post.
3. A Kindle looks like a real book.
Good. But you know what - that means my books look exactly like a Kindle. And they smell better.
4. Amazon envisages having all books available for Kindle.
And I envisage making all the quilts in my head before I go back to work in March, Not going to happen. I did a scientific test. That is, I took the list of books I have found as I have been travelling that are now on my Amazon wish list. Of a list of 34, 4 were available for Kindle. To be fair, I have found a lot of art and textile books. But of the non-illustrated 'reading books' (8), 4 were available.
5. The new Kindle will read to you.
This did get me interested. It would be nice to have the ability to continue my book as I drive which this lets you do. However, the Kindle costs $489. Of the 8 'reading' books, 6 were available on Audible ( the 2 not available were non-fiction), an Amazon owned company incidentally, at less costs than the Kindle version and are downloadable on to a cheap MP3 or a CD. I can read more than one book at a time so I can happily have one in the car for driving and more for reading in paper versions.
6. The Kindle holds 3500 books.
So does my house. I have never felt the need to carry more around than I can carry in my luggage. And I can carry a lot in my luggage. Which is where I came in.
Verdict: I want to want a Kindle. But I don't. I do want those 34 books though.