Re-kindling the flames

Kindle 3, now more known as the Kindle KeyboardI realized that I have never properly talked about one of my purchases this year on this blog, though I’ve certainly talked about it to friends and tried to enable people with it. Last April, I caved and bought myself an Amazon Kindle 3, which was the most recent model out at the time, now more known as the Kindle Keyboard.

What, ebooks? Tolerable, I suppose

When the Kindle first came out, with the much-touted e-ink technology, I was skeptical at best. I loved my paper books, and in the years following that first release and up until my decision to get one, I was firmly in the paper-book-lover camp. No newfangled technology was going to tear me away from my paper books! I liked the tactile feel of turning the pages, the scent of paper. I spend a lot of my time looking at text on screens and have tried reading ebooks, but it never caught on.

When I started getting into audiobooks, my penchant for still buying the paper books after listening to the audiobook firmed my belief that nothing was ever going to make me give up my paper books. My attempts to read ebooks on my iPhone didn’t help, either–my head hurt after a while, I got dizzy, the eye strain felt uncalled-for when I knew I could stare at computer screens for hours and not be bothered.

So what changed?

Coincidentally (or maybe not so much), the same guy who got me hooked onto audio books, got me hooked onto the Kindle. He brought his Kindle 3 to show us one fine day.

First impressions: definitely handsome enough to tempt me

I was very impressed with the Kindle 3, when I first saw it and held it in my hands. It was light, almost felt like a toy, but felt fairly solid enough for me. I could quickly see myself bringing one everyday and not minding the negligible weight increase (especially when this comes at a time when I was full into reading Wheel of Time. Yep).

But the definite selling point was the e-ink technology. I tell you–photos do not do this fabulous screen justice. I had to see it myself to be completely won over. Go ahead, open a book, any book. That page you see there? Pretty much the same thing you see on the Kindle screen. It was amazing. It was amazing. I’ve seen a good number of tech gadgets, and I’m not easily wowed. But this one?

It was love at first sight.

The stars also aligned for me then: while the Kindle is not released for Singapore, a friend was coming from the US in a month’s time. I had a long trip coming up. I had a little extra money that I didn’t expect.

And so a Kindle 3 came home to stay.

Brightened by the exercise

I had my Kindle in my hands in May last year. My friend handed the box over to me, and I couldn’t wait until I got home–I opened it right then and there. And there it was, in all its beautiful glory. There was a note on the screen that told me to connect the Kindle to my computer to get started. I couldn’t help it–I started with opening the box, well, I should just finish it off and remove the plastic screen protector, right?

So I lightly picked at the corners of the screen…and then another corner, since I was unsuccessful…and then I realized that there was no plastic covering. That note on the screen is not printed on a piece of plastic and taped onto the Kindle, it was on the Kindle itself. You can’t believe how embarrassed I felt, and what a good laugh I had out of it.

Seriously, folks, the e-ink is that good.

Kindle text vs book text: a comparison

Kindle text vs book text: a comparison (click to see full image, 1632x1224)

PICS OR IT DIDN’T HAPPEN! Well, the comparison shot with this post might help (click it to enlarge). I took it with my iPhone camera, but it’s a good comparison shot–the focus in near the bottom half of the photo, which is unedited except for halving the size of the actual shot. No other manipulations on sharpness or contrast. Apologies for the slightly yellowed book pages–it was the nearest one on hand (A Writer’s Workbook by Caroline Sharp, which embarrassingly I have not gone through properly yet).

I’ve had my Kindle for well over half a year now, and I think it’s still one of the best purchases I’ve done. Previously I tended not read at all. I was mourning the lack of time, but also quite unwilling to add 300-400g to my everyday bag for a book I may or may not have any downtime to read that day, and disliked ending up with books with battered covers and corners.

But being able to bring the Kindle everywhere with me changed all that. I could read whenever I wanted, I kept my book near me at all times. When I read on the way home, I am more likely to continue reading when I get home than not. The lack of a backlit screen does not faze me at all–it never deterred me when I loved paper books and it doesn’t deter me now.

Nowadays, I would probably prefer the Kindle or Kindle Touch over the Kindle Keyboard, mostly because I use the keyboard so little that I can let go of that feature in favor of a smaller overall gadget–and I will admit to trying to use the Kindle screen as a touchscreen for a while there (blush). But in no way do I feel that I paid too much for the more expensive Kindle 3 (“Kindle Keyboard”), it was well worth the price then and it would be well worth the price even now.

But does that mean I’m giving up on my paper books? Not at all. Like my “audiobook situation”, I still buy paper books of ebooks I read that are amazing. They are fabulous, and sometimes, I am plainly in a paper book mood, that the Kindle can’t satisfy. But all the other times–most of the time–the Kindle answers all my hobby reading needs.

If you’re in the same boat that I was–unable to read from backlit screens, wanting to read on the go but unwilling to bring along heavy books–I very strongly suggest you take a look at the Kindle. It’s a fabulous gadget and I am so, so pleased that I bought one.


  • I’m drooling over this more than I would a regular tablet. Definitely one for the wishlist.

    • It’s my third most-used tech gadget! (The first and second places are a toss-up between my actual main machine and my phone, heheh.) Regular tablets don’t really interest me so much–I’d sooner get a netbook–but this one is super, super useful. :)

  • *thumbs up* I adore my Kindle (we have the same one!). Thanks to it, I’ve been reading more than I ever have (as in, all the Percy Jackson books in less than a week).

  • Heheh, I was an astonished “NEVER!! Physical books all the way!!” convert to eReader too. =D Although in my case, it was the Barnes & Noble NOOK Simple Touch, which I adore. Lesson learnt: never say never!

    My story of conversion is very similar to yours. The tipping point for me was the realization that my personal library has always tended towards collector’s editions, large formats, and graphic novels and illustrated books anyway, and the eReader is perfect for all those books that I want to own, but don’t care to have a cover for. (And having recently moved house at the time too — I think even the most die-hard paper-book-lover will eventually get tired of dragging a whole library behind her every time she moves!)

    Another great boon of the eReader: I can read samples before I decide to borrow the (physical) book from the library, and all those free books on Project Gutenberg et al are suddenly opened up to me. I’ve been reading a lot of public domain books lately and discovering wonderful obscure authors, as a result!

    Isn’t it good to know that we can enjoy the eReader next to our physical books. Yes, I was actually worried about that initially, but well, you get used to a new standard! ;)

  • Very good review! Hehe! I am sharing this post over facebook to some friends I have been trying to sell the merits of having a kindle to. :p

    And I love the guy who gave it to me even more! <3 ;p

    (BTW, I like this font. Haha!)

  • LOL. Everything you wrote here was exactly the reason why I got a Kindle (I have a Kindle 2) in 2010. :D I love it, and I feel like I can read more in that sometimes. Hee. But yes, I still love paper books, and I have an ebook and paper book version of the ones I love. :)

    Oh, and everyone’s fallen for the touch screen thing on the Kindle. Whenever some friends see my Kindle for the first time, the first thing they do is touch the screen to make it move. :))

    • Haha! Especially if you’re used to touchscreen gadgets, at first it did feel weird that nothing was happening! Although I’ve read around that some people get annoyed with the touchscreen on the Touch, it’s easy to get lost, accidentally change pages, etc. Maybe they need to improve on the touch technology for a bit first.