July 14, 2010

Reading on the Screen

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:

→ A. Victoria Mixon enumerates 6 Personality Types Who Will Fail as Writers and 6 Who Will Succeed.

→ The New York Observer investigates a secret, writers-only room at the New York Public Library. (Thanks, MobyLives!)

→ The New York Times looks at book trailers. (Thanks, BookNinja!)


Anonymous said...

We're getting an e-reader for my mom for her birthday. It'll be interesting to see how she likes it because she is such a techno-phobe.
I have the 'steamier' stories on my Palm. I'm probably not going to get a dedicated e-reader when the Palm dies though. In this age of multitasking, I'm more inclined to stick to my laptop for that, unless of course I get an app when I get a new phone.

Pat said...

A few of my "mature" friends (in their late 60s and early 70s) have purchased Kindles and love them, especially for traveling. They still read print books too. I don't think I am ready to make the move yet, but some day . . . .

Henri Picciotto said...

I'm reading Ulysses on my iPhone. (I've been doing this for a year, and only recently passed the 50% mark!) Before that, I read a Philip K. Dick story, and a Gogol novella on there. Waiting for their turn: Don Quixote, Emma, Metamorphosis, and something by Trollope.

The e-book reader is called Stanza, and I love it.

I have 9,500 public domain books on my computer, downloaded one crazy day from Project Gutenberg. I can read any of those on my computer or on my phone. So far the phone is winning.

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