The Amazon Kindle. You either love it or loathe it. I’ve been trialling one for the last week or so, to see how useful it would be to Ballet NEWS readers. Overall, it’s easy to hold & about the size of a paperback. The actual screen size is smaller than I’d anticipated – and smaller than the page of a paperback by about a third – the space around the screen is quite wide and then there has to be room at the bottom for the control panel, so there is less reading space.
The screen itself is the reason to buy a Kindle. With no back-lighting and e-ink technology it is very easy to read with no glare and looks almost identical to the written page. This advantage is also it’s biggest limitation – there is no facility for colour, so if your textbook has colour diagrams/photographs then the Kindle can’t display them – and it’s school and colleage textbooks that are often the heaviest and most cumbersome to carry about. Perhaps this will change in the future but for now I’d say the Kindle is ideal if you want to purely concentrate on the content of books; you can’t refer to the front or back cover but you can bookmark and save extracts or ‘notes in the margin’. Another thing you can’t do is use it in the dark – unless you buy one of the accessories; a Kindle cover (not leather) with it’s own built in light which is powered by the Kindle’s battery.
Being able to download a book you really want to read is also a huge bonus – you can do so almost instantly provided that a) it’s in the Kindle store and b) you’ve got a fast enough broadband connection (wi-fi). Many of my favourite authors don’t have Kindle editions available at the moment although via Amazon you can request that you’d like to see e-editions of the books you’d like to read (of course it’s not going to happen instantly and takes away from the ‘instant gratification’ that ordinarily should be a given for a Kindle owner).
You can read newspapers and magazines (for a subcription) and many of the books available are cheaper as Kindle editions, which is an advantage. There’s also a good selection of ballet related books ranging from technical manuals (where arguably the Kindle does make them more easily portable and you could have the Kindle with you in lessons etc) to knitting patterns, fictional novels and Ballet NEWS’ own ‘Cupcakes & Conversation with..” Later on there is a list of ballet related books which are currently available.
I found the computer side of the Kindle very slow and clunky, even on super fast wi-fi, including the page turning. And the buttons ! So Diplodocus ! If you are used to Apple products then you’ll find it hard to navigate via the five-way menu button and it’s tempting to touch the screen for a faster response.
To sum up: if you’ve got a book with black and white content only, and you travel a lot or don’t intent to keep the book after you’ve read it, then the Kindle is an excellent choice. For me, nothing beats the smell of a new book or the anticipation of flicking through the pages and reading the covers. I can see the Kindle’s usefulness if I was travelling a lot, though I’d argue that some paperbacks are lighter than the machine. I’ve heard of people reading a Kindle version and then, if they like it, buying a physical version to store on their bookshelves, which counteracts another objection people have – of not being able to display their most treasured books.
Here is a sample of what you can expect to find in the Kindle store :