Recently Amazon made me very happy by finally releasing Kindle software for Android, my phone's operating system. I don't have a Kindle device, and while I read a book on a borrowed one and found the experience pleasant enough, it didn't compel me to buy one. But I was intrigued by the idea of reading a book on a gadget I already carry in my pocket all the time.
I figured for my initial test run, I wouldn't invest any money, so I started with one of the millions of out-of-copyright books available for free. I chose DRACULA, since a couple of friends read it recently, and hey, vampires are all the rage. A post about the book will come next week -- right now Kindle tells me I'm 42% through.
I'd previously downloaded Kindle for Mac to look at some first chapter samples, and I began reading DRACULA on my laptop. When I got hungry (for blood?) and went to eat lunch, I started up the phone app, and through the magic of syncing, it automatically found the spot where I'd left off reading on the computer.
The ability to transfer seamlessly between devices is a huge benefit. I've been reading quite a bit my phone while out and about, and it's great to get in some reading during times when I otherwise wouldn't (I'm not in the habit of carrying a book around). I don't mind reading on the small phone screen, but constantly turning pages gets a little tedious, so I've read much more of the book on my laptop, in longer sessions. I have no problem staring at a backlit screen for hours on end, and reclining with my computer on a lapdesk is somewhat more comfortable for me than holding a book. I'm finding a lot of positives in this screen reading experience.
I expect to read more books this way, even ones I pay for. I don't yet think I'm going to buy a Kindle device, though I'm not ruling out that ending to this story. I still foresee the purchase of some new paper books at a local independent bookstore in my near future. And I'm sure the topic of ebooks is something I'll be talking about more.
It's a topic a lot of people are talking about right now. Among the many pieces on the future of books that I've read or heard recently, two worth checking out are Mike Shatzkin's prediction about Where will bookstores be five years from now? and a Morning Edition story on Stanford's Engineering Library getting rid of books.
Good Stuff Out There:
→ The New York Observer investigates a secret, writers-only room at the New York Public Library. (Thanks, MobyLives!)