The Kindle is magic (too)

I got a Kindle for Christmas. Not the Kindle Fire. The other one. The one that people get when they actually want to read on it.

For those keeping score, yes, you are correct. I got an iPad last Christmas. There are certainly more important things to honor and celebrate at Christmas than the acquisition of new technologies. This blog isn’t about those things. Still with me? Read on.

For the past year, I have been loving the iPad as an eReader. I have mostly used the BlueFire app and only occasionally the Kindle app. The Blue Fire app is quite versatile and allows easy import of ePub and PDF titles. BlueFire works brilliantly with our library’s eBrary eBook collection allowing the reader to leapfrog over the need to download Adobe Content Server to the personal computer. All that’s needed is a college issued account to access the eBrary database, a personal eBrary account to register your checkouts and an Adobe account to manager the DRM. Headache, right? Much easier than it sounds once you’ve done it a time or two.

My major complaint with Blue Fire is the inability to organize your library. Books all land in one tank and stay that way until you delete them. Also, you can’t easily rename files dropped into your Blue Fire tank. So if the PDF article comes over with a crazy title like ASDAFASDFLKWJERJWERFSADFSDF124244545.PDF, you are pretty much stuck with having to remember what that is. Not cool. Still, I have enjoyed the iPad eReading experience very much.

Reading on the iPad is very easy and enjoyable. I like the size and shape of the “book” in my hand. My major problem has been that I can’t seem to find time to read because every time I pull the tablet out during the day, my daughter wants to grab it from me to play games. Every parent knows, the only time you get to read during the day is when your child is sufficiently distracted doing something else.

Enter Kindle.

Several of my friends have been Kindle readers as long as I’ve been an iPad reader. Setting aside the whole iOS vs. Android thing, most of my Kindle pals say that the iPad is a fine and magical thing but that reading on a tablet isn’t really the same thing as a reading on a dedicated eReading device. General impressions hold that reading on a tablet is more distracting, nerve-racking or just somehow more awkward. I didn’t get it. I thought this was a silly distinction. That reading was reading and it didn’t really matter if it was on a color, touch screen tablet, a gray scale e-ink device or paper.

I was wrong. The iPad still has heavy magic, but the Kindle has a simple, totemic kind of magic that gets closer to what I really love about books. The basic Kindle does one thing and does it really, really well — it gets you reading. There aren’t many whistles or bells. That’s wrong actually. There are millions of whistles and bells. They are just all hidden under the hood. They are built into the framework where you don’t have to see them if you don’t want to. The magic:

  • I register my Kindle to my Amazon account and every eBook I have ever purchased is immediately available.
  • My books follow my progress across every device. I can read on my Kindle, my iPhone and iPad without every losing my place.
  • Not only can I highlight passages and make notes. I can share my notes and quotes through Facebook and Twitter. This is the kind of social reading I keep expecting to find from GoodReads.
  • I haven’t tried the public notes yet, but the idea of crowdsourced text glossing is pretty interesting, yes?
  • The Kindle fits in my jacket pocket.
  • My daughter doesn’t want to grab the Kindle away from me because it is just words on a screen. Nothing special to see here. This device doesn’t play Angry Birds.

I’ve been reading with the Kindle for less than 12 hours now, so there will be more to say on this. For now, I just want to tell my Kindle loving friends: “You were right and I was (a little bit) wrong.”