Our Cataloging Librarian, Elizabeth Ehr, has been having a great time with her new Kindle. We asked her to tell us about it:
“Using a Kindle is quite enjoyable. You do lose certain aesthetic qualities, like the touch, feel, and smell of a real book. But the effect on the eyes is pretty much identical. The Kindle uses a technology called E Ink, which replicates the experience of looking at the printed page. That means the screen is readable in broad daylight (you can take it to the beach!), which is different from computer-type LCD screens that produce glare in sunlight and are overall very hard on the eyes. Also, the Kindle gives you extra functionalities that a regular book doesn’t, such as text size adjustment, instant wireless book delivery, and mp3 capability. You can also make notes in the margins and dog-ear corners just as you would with a regular book. And if your eyes do get tired, you can activate the Kindle to read to you.
My husband and I received our Kindle as a gift this last Christmas. It’s one of those things where you don’t really understand the power of a gadget until you start playing around with it yourself. One of the great benefits, in my opinion, is how eco-friendly it is. It allows you to be less wasteful in your book purchasing. E-readers allow people to access books faster, yet also less wastefully. Kindles are a lot like iPods in that way. It’s instant gratification, but it’s also practical.
I buy newer books at the Kindle store (a subset of Amazon.com), but I get classics from the web site Project Gutenberg. Project Gutenberg is an online book repository for works old enough to be in the public domain (works no longer under copyright). Everything available there is legally free, so for my personal literature must-haves like Shakespeare or Emily Dickinson, it’s the only place I’ll go. Even though Kindle e-books are generally cheaper than regular books, it’s still nice not to have to pay for everything.
For me, I’ve always been a person who cherishes books and needs them around me; however, when it comes to owning a modest-sized house, there are only so many volumes you can own before it just becomes too much. Now that I have a Kindle, anything text-based I can find as an e-book goes on the device, and anything not available as an e-book I borrow from libraries. So I end up saving precious shelf space only for those treasures I absolutely must own in regular book form, such as special editions, favorite novels, or large artsy books with full-color, glossy pictures.
As far as balancing being a librarian with using a Kindle, as a librarian I’m very used to the reality that information is now available to us in a variety of formats. That gives us the privilege and luxury of choosing which format works best for us. Digital technology is growing, absolutely, but there is still something special about the experience of holding an actual book in your hand. I don’t see the Kindle as a replacement for the book; I see it more as one option in a range of options.
As an undergraduate ten years ago, I would have loved it if I could have carried a Kindle around, rather than lugging a bag of heavy books. My back would have been appreciative as well. But until technology improves further, e-books just won’t be able to replace everything.
I can’t wait to utilize the Kindle for travel. My husband and I love to travel, and I’m sure I don’t have to explain how tiresome it can be to drag multiple sightseeing books around planes, airports, and hotels. Transporting books can be really bulky and inconvenient. So that is a huge benefit of the Kindle – it’s super thin, lighter than a paperback, yet holds over 1,500 books. Also, the battery life is amazing – we got ours in January and have not recharged it yet. So for future trips, I’m guessing it will be a must-pack item.”