2010-09-23 / News

Kindling new flames

Flotsam and Jetsam
By Donna Drago

I am so happy with my new Kindle, I just have to tell you about it.

For those who aren’t up to snuff on Kindles, it’s an e-reader – or, an “electronic book.” There are a few brands on the market, and I really don’t know the differences between them, but what I do know is this: What a great idea!

I have always balked at technology. You won’t catch me standing in line at 4 a.m. at an electronics store to buy the newest edition of a PlayStation or an iPhone or anything like that. I just don’t typically like gadgets and new-fangled things too much. But the Kindle appealed to me for a number of reasons.

First, let me explain how it works. Either using the device itself, which is connected to a 3G network, or by visiting the amazon. com website, I can select any number of books, magazines or newspapers to load onto my personal unit. The newest hardcover books cost in the neighborhood of $12 to $15 to load, and older books can be anywhere from $10 to $1, depending on their popularity. I select the book and order it, and within seconds, it appears on my Kindle, where I can read the text on a screen.

This completely eliminates the evenings when I’ve forgotten to go to the library, and I have already read the newspaper and the latest issues of all the magazines to which I subscribe. On those nights, the alternative was trying to decide how to entertain myself by watching television, which I am convinced exists to systematically suck away brain cells with every viewing.

With the Kindle, I will never run out of things to read again!

The Kindle is a very eco-friendly way to read disposable materials – like daily newspapers and magazines. Instead of spending about 30 minutes a day reading the Providence Journal and then putting it into the recycling bin, I can now read the daily edition of my newspaper on my Kindle and not have to concern myself over how many trees I am helping to destroy to feed my media addiction. My paper automatically loads onto my Kindle well before I wake up in the morning and I never have to get dressed to go outside and pick the soggy paper up off the wet grass. At the end of the week, the recycling bin is about 10 pounds lighter and I am still just as informed as I was when I had the paper copies.

Currently, the ProJo is not available on the Kindle, so I am reading the Boston Globe instead. The only thing I miss is the local obituaries, which I can read online, and the local ads.

One of the best features of the Kindle is that thousands of classic novels published before a certain date are available to download for free. I have begun amassing a collection of books that I probably should have read in high school, but never got around to reading. On my Kindle right now are “Pride and Prejudice” and “Sense and Sensibility,” both by Jane Austen; “Great Expectations” by Dickens; “The Age of Innocence” by Edith Wharton; “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley and “A Tramp Abroad” by Mark Twain. These were all free! I also have an Italian-English dictionary, and two recent novels, which I paid for.

I travel a lot. Prior to buying the Kindle, when I packed my carryon for a flight, it would typically contain today’s newspaper, the latest edition of Newsweek, a novel, a travel guide – maybe two – and my pocketbook. When I got to my destination, I could ditch the paper and the magazine, but I would have to schlep the books around for the entire trip.

Not anymore.

Now, I have a pocketbook and my Kindle, which is small enough to fit inside my pocketbook.

Speaking of travel guides, I have also taken advantage of a pretty neat trick the Kindle allows me to do. Instead of paying to download a guide from say Lonely Planet, Fodor’s or the like, I can create my own personalized guide and then send it to my Kindle. I go to the Internet and select information from various websites about specific places I want to visit, dine or shop. I copy all the pertinent information and paste it into a word document. After I have collected all the data, maps and photos I need, I complete the document and then email it to my device. Brilliant!

Of course, there are reading materials that just would not translate well to electronic media. Colorful children’s books that can be held by chubby hands and beautiful books of photography that grace a coffee table will never be “kindleized,” but for those materials that just exist to be read and then discarded, the Kindle, the Nook or the iPad are a wonderful way to go.

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