16 August 2011

Riding the eReader Bandwagon

A few weeks ago I walked into Best Buy and purchased a Kindle. This wasn't a rash decision, I had been weighing the pros and cons of having an eReader for at least a month now. For my consumer habits, that's like a lifetime. I mean, I've gotten tattoos with less thought than I put into eReader research.

Trying to figure out if I wanted a Kindle, Nook, Kobo or some other device wasn't actually that hard. After playing around with each of them for awhile, I didn't hesitate to go with the Kindle. Amazon has the bigger selection, it has market share, and it has the better eInk technology. The kicker was that a new Kindle was expected this fall or winter. Normally I'd wait it out but for my purposes, I just needed a simple eReader, devoid of touch screen, color, or anything else fancy. My eReader was going to be strictly for books!

I bought the Wifi version without ads, which disappointingly only came in one color. I prefer my electronics in white but this time around that just wasn't possible. Of course I got a case for my Kindle, and while it's not the most versatile one around, I've made a decision to treat my new toy less like a Faberge egg and more like a cheap piece of plastic that's easily replaceable. I mean, with my sanitary issues, I'd never touch the Kindle if I treated it like a computer. Are my hands clean? (More importantly, are your hands clean?!) Are the surfaces around me free of debris? If I put this down will there be threatening sticky things nearby? I could have taken the Kindle to the beach with me that first weekend, but my OCD had to draw the line somewhere. Sand and the bathroom, that's where I'm drawing the line.

What's the verdict? Will I ever buy books again? To be honest, and scarily enough, probably not. I mean, of course I'll buy used books that I see hanging around, or buy illustrated tomes of things, or purchase books to support my friends, but as for buying something just for me to read? I think I'd go Kindle all the way. As this Millions article points out, an eReader is just too convenient. I've already been struggling with lugging books around as I travel and that was the number one reason I got an eReader. Instead of carrying ten pounds of paper around with me -- a modest traveling selection of five books I limit myself to -- I will now just cart around my Kindle.

The thing that has dazzled me so far is sampling. I've only bought a handful of books but I've sampled at least two dozen. As a reader, it's amazing to be able to sit around and look at the first chapter or two of something before committing. Sure, I could do this at a bookstore or online, but the Kindle makes it easier. As a writer, it's reiterated how crazy important a book's sample suddenly is. I'd bet most people will sample a book before buying it. That sample better be really damn good then. Already I can feel my buying habits and wishlists change as I dive freely into unlimited sampling.

Right after I got the Kindle, I went to Lendle and a few other online services to borrow books. While you're only allowed to lend each of your books once, it's still a neat feature that almost simulates real life. Once I hook up with a public library, I can only imagine how many books I'll be able to rent. One issue: Since the Kindle doesn't read ePub format, it could be annoying to convert things back and forth. I haven't hit that roadblock yet so we'll see. The world sure would be nicer if all eBooks came in a standard file type, but that would just be too convenient wouldn't it?

First five eBooks I bought