Thursday, August 27, 2009

My Reflections of my Kindle Reading


I received a KINDLE as a gift several months ago. Over the summer, I have done more reading on my Kindle and less with "real" books. I have been thinking a lot about it--lots of people have been asking me which I prefer, etc. So, I thought I'd share my reflections.

There are times I LOVE my Kindle. I started out reading only nonfiction, starting with THE ELEMENT by Ken Robinson. I thought it would be hard to get into a novel. But then I read THE BRIEF WONDROUS LIFE OF OSCAR WAO and loved it. Once you get started, falling into a book is the same whether you are reading a "real" book or a book on the Kindle.

Some great features:

I think the highlighting and note taking features are the best thing. I am not sure what the possibilities are with these tools but these are actually the tools that sold me on the KINDLE. When I am reading a book, I can underline and take notes (right on the spot where the notes belong!) Then when I go to my clipping area, all of my notes for each book are compiled. I think the implications for book talks and book study are huge with this. For me, this feature made the KINDLE a different kind of reading for me. Knowing I could highlight and take notes and have those all in one spot, rather than flipping through the book and finding them all, is huge. I think this could really impact student and adult book talks--really allowing us to create new thinking off of a book and sharing it in ways that we really couldn't before.

I can read a sample of almost any Kindle book available for Free. Whenever I hear of a good title, I often order the free sample and read it--often about a first chapter. They send you a lot of text to preview. And then if you like it, you can order the book.

It is sooo easy to carry. That is obvious. But the fact that I can go somewhere and THEN decide if I want to read a novel, something professional, etc. is great. I have all of my reading with me. And if I don't, I can get it pretty quickly.

I can order a book and have it in 30 seconds. I didn't think I would care, but I recently read a sample chapter of THE SLIPPERY YEAR (a great read for anyone in their 40s:-) and loved the sample. I was laying in bed reading one night and decided I wanted to read that book. Even though it was midnight, I could order the book and have it in about 15 seconds. I didn't have to find time to get to the store, etc.

I can email myself PDF files and read those on my Kindle. I wasn't sure I would use this feature, but it has been great. First of all, I don't need printouts of Ali of the things I often print to read. By sending it to my Kindle, it doesn't become part of some huge pile. Instead it just becomes an option for my reading and it is much easier to read than reading it off of the computer.

The books are cheaper.

Some things I am not quite used to and not sure if I ever will be:

I can't loan my books out. When I decided to read THREE LITTLE WORDS, I knew I might want to pass it along. So, I purchased a real copy. It is a little frustrating to tell someone about a great book but not be able to share it with them. And I sometimes, when I find a book I love, I have the urge to carry it around and tell anyone about it who will listen. A Kindle makes this a bit difficult.

It takes a bit of time to get used to the idea of no page numbers. Instead of page numbers the Kindle tells gives you numbers and percentages to let you know how far along you are. For me, I need to know how long a book is and how many "pages" I read each sitting. To combat this, I often look up the page count, then figure out what 10% is, and go from there.

There are not "real" covers on the Kindle. It is a bit odd to walk into a bookstore and see a book you just read but not recognize it. To pick a book up to read every day and not see a cover. For me, covers and previewing are important. Covers tell something big, give us a clue into the theme. I miss that. I also haven't noticed many of the things I often find on the back cover. I miss that.

I LOVE bookstores. Love to shop, carry books, buy books. I have even been known to buy books that I already have because I love them so much. I am worried about bookstores with the increased popularity of the Kindle and other readers. I am having trouble not shopping for books, real books,in real bookstores, with real people. I am not sure anything can replace that experience.

I have a shelf of books that I have read but can't part with. Books that I LOVE. Books that I hope someone sees on the shelf and wants to read. Books I hope my daughters read when they are older. Books that have changed me. I can't really have that physical shelf on a Kindle.

Overall, I LOVE the Kindle. The more time I spend reading Kindle books, the less I find myself needing paper books. I remember a similar experience when I gave up the yellow legal pads for writing and moved to the computer. I wasn't sure I'd ever be able to give up the "real" paper. Now, that seems long ago and amusing. Composing on paper almost never happens for me.

And as a teacher, I think it has huge implications for our classrooms. When I think of the amazing book talks my 4th and 5th graders have had--studying a title, sharing notes, etc. I can see this as a way to add even more depth. The notes feature alone can be pretty interesting. There is also a great SEARCH feature. I remember one group that studied the way that the word "soof" was used in SO BE IT. A Kindle would allow them to search all of the places in the book that the author used that word. Can you imagine the conversations? Being able to search a word in fiction in order to think about theme, find evidence for thinking and working through clues can really add to deeper reading. I can only imagine what is possible.

I am pretty sure that soon, the Kindle will be my entire reading life. It will be good because I will have SOOO much extra room in my house. I can see myself falling more and more in love with it and relying on it more and more.

13 comments:

  1. Franki,
    This entry intrigues me. I don't have a Kindle yet (I keep buying football cleats instead). I thought I was ok without one. And yet you imagine your entire reading life being lived on a Kindle! Yikes! Guess it's time for me to move into the twenty-first century!

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  2. Franki -

    a terrific reflection on the Kindle! I don't yet own one but will soon. I've seen them for months and echo all your thoughts on highlighting, notetaking, etc. I could use one in my travels rather than lugging ten books in my backpack and suitcase. And manuscripts!

    Pete has a Sony Reader but loaned it to someone. . . but I wanted a Kindle. I just heard a review of the new Sony Reader on Bloomberg. . . .versus the Kindle. Think I still want a Kindle.

    But as a former bookseller, and a writer for more than 20 years, I also totally echo your passion for the real book, the jackets of books, and my own library of hundreds of books in our house. I love just standing in front of each of our many bookshelves, and seeing the many titles - not all read yet! And books from my past years of collecting them. It's the landscape of my life really - and my history. For over ten years, I've noted in each book the date and where I purchased it and whom I was with if not alone - or if someone had recommended it. I like going back and seeing the year that the book came into my home library.

    I love bookstores, and being in bookstores. Especially the independents which I seek out in every city I'm in. I'd rather browse in a bookstore than any other kind of store.

    But you have reflected on the most essential elements of both the Kindle and our traditional way of obtaining and reading books. This will be our future although THE BOOK is not quite going to go away.

    I'll think about what you've said. . . in the meantime, what do you think about illustrated books? Their possibilities and their future?
    Reading to Ana and Alexa when they were little? How will technology make that leap? (And it will someday. . .we are in an amazing information era.)

    Louise B.

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  3. I agree with your assessment of Kindle use and have found the same thing. I love the convenience and also the instant availability of books I hear about but I, too, love bookstores. So I'm using the best of both worlds. I tend to take the Kindle for traveling, which I do a lot, and have shelves of books at home for browsing and reading. I think the future of the Kindle may be for students to replace heavy textbooks.

    I also used my Kindle to check my email while traveling before I got a data package on my cell phone. The Kindle allowed me to check email and facebook, although it was slow and clumsy way to do that, it was better than no email. The iPhone is much better for doing that.

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  4. I got a Kindle this summer too. I appreciate the ability to take a bunch of books along with me in very little space. However, all books are not available for the Kindle and some are actually more expensive on the Kindle than for the print copy.

    I usually use the Kindle for books I think that I will only read once and huge hardcovers. Books that I intend to read and then donate to my HS Media Center will still have to be the print copy. I haven't used the notetaking feature yet. Of course, I have never taken notes when reading a print book either. I can see that the search feature would be useful though.

    I seldom get to an actual bookstore. I get most of my book ideas from the many blogs I read and do most of my purchasing at Amazon. Covers have never been really important to me. The actual physical feel and smell of books is wonderful but with 4000 currently in my house and no more places for bookshelves, something had to give.

    I just wish the Kindle would make it possible to mark which books I have already read. Have you tried archiving any books yet? That would work for the books from Amazon but I have also bought other ebooks for my Kindle and Amazon doesn't archive them.

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  5. I can't even wrap my head around what libraries of the future could look like! And Reading Aloud to students via a Kindle? Ugh-I don't like that idea at all.

    However, each of you have shared some pros that I'd never considered. I especially love the idea of using Kindle on college campuses and advantages while traveling.

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  6. Did you read the review of the Kindle in the
    New Yorker

    -- I liked the idea of the kindle software on other devices. I agree that notating reading changes reading forever -- graduate school did that to me. I buy SO many copies of the books I love. I read so many in bed I'm not sure about Kindle for me, yet. I am still adjusting to having to use reading glasses.

    I am also with Louise -- I won't ever be able to give up my addiction to beautiful picturebooks.

    Thanks for sharing your experiences!

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  7. I love your honesty. I have been pining for a Kindle. I listen to audiobooks but usually then go and buy the actual book because I need to highlight a phrase or go back to a passage. My only problem is the attachment to Amazon...I like having options. But man...I want a Kindle...

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  8. You know me, guess I'll continue being an antique, can't bring myself to this yet! I'd miss paper cuts too much. I'll be the old guy in the nursing home telling all the young-uns about how we used to hold books in our hand... then I'll pull one off the shelf and amaze them with their beauty!

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  9. Roger Sutton at http://www.hbook.com/blog/ had interesting post regarding digital formats yesterday. He is always insightful!

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  10. My 14-year-old son got a Kindle for his birthday. He loves it. I got to borrow it when he went to camp. I enjoy reading on it -- though when I get a little sleepy I sometimes hit it with my hand which comes up to turn the page. My son wishes his h.s. textbooks could be on the Kindle and when I see his back slumped over from his books, I wish it, too.
    On a recent trip, I was able to get a single issue of the New Yorker on his Kindle within a few minutes. Fabulous!
    Can't imagine picture books on one.

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  11. I have a Kindle 1. My daughter has a iTouch. I am thinking about upgrading to a Kindle 2 or possibly a Kindle DX or an iPhone. I really want the listening component. I use it primarily for fiction, but I do buy some nonfiction books also.

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  12. As a dedicated book reader and collector, I was intrigued by this post. It almost made me want to try a Kindle. What I don't like is the lack of ownership - you are "renting" the book.

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  13. I have to say I feel the same. When I received my kindle I spent more time reading on it and less using my real books. After I while I realized that I was reading a lot more and a lot faster on the kindle? Why? Because I can take the kindle everywhere, I have it at hand at all times; because focusing on a small fragment of text (with a really large font size) makes me to read faster and more accurately and I don't get lost when changing lines.
    Buying a kindle has improved my reading experience a lot.

    On the other hand, I also miss going to bookstores and buying real books. It's so fun and the books look great in my shelf. These are contradictory feelings... :(

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