Last week after several months of deliberations, I finally went out and bought a Kindle. A Kindle for those that do not read books (I really pity those poor souls what they are missing out on), or otherwise live on Mars, is an electronic reading device similar to an Ipod, whereby books are downloaded via a computer direct to the device where they can then be read.
There are quite a few of these on the market, but the Kindle is by far the best in terms of value, not least of all because of the screen which enables you to read in bright sunlight without glare. There are two (in the UK at least, in the US there are three) versions available, one of which works on a normal Wifi signal and one of which works on 3G. 3G is the signal normally used by mobile phones. What this means in layman's terms is that the the 3G model can be used to download books anywhere that a mobile phone can also be used, whereas the non 3G version, which I plumpled for, mainly because of security concerns, can be used only at home or in secure Wifi "hotspots", such as coffee shops and the like. The most obvious advantage of this is that books can be downloaded where and when you like (in some instances I am told, for the more unethical readers, Waterstones - a practise I would never condone). This would be little comfort though if your password details were stolen and your accound hacked into because the network was not secure, as many of them are not, so for the moment at least, I prefer the non 3G version.
This small device though with its six inch screen (the perfect size for a girl), has revlutionised my reading habits. I no longer have to go to bookstores and spend hours browsing the aisles, but can now order everything from the comfort of my own home. If I am not sure as to whether I will like the book, instead of flipping through it in store, I can download a free sample chapter direct to my Kindle in less than a second, and peruse it at my leisure.
Increasingly books are being published only as e-books with no paper edition at all, so it has also opened up a whole new world of choice - books from all around the world in all different genres. In the short time (nine days now) since I have had the device I have downloaded sample chapters from books set in at least six different countries, most of which I will buy. I would almost certainly not have been aware of any of these had I not purchased my Kindle.
Sure, it has taken a bit of getting used to, and nothing will ever compare to the feel of paper and the smell of an old book, but these will still be around for the collectors to enjoy. In practical terms the Kindle will win every time, for that one small device, not much bigger than the palm of my hand can hold 3500 books, more than I am likely to read in my lifetime, with a battery that lasts up a month. How much space would 3500 books take up in your house? It is also better for the environment, since all that paper and ink need no longer be used. E-books may have VAT on them, but in most cases they are still at least a few pence cheaper. The biggest advantage of all though is for the person who actually writes the book, as for the first time, they can publish books direct to the Kindle, taking 70 percent of the profits and cutting out all those middle men - except of course Amazon, who I am beginning to realise are not so evil after all.
The Kindle then for me wins every time, for with this, everyone especially the author, really is a winner, and that is what it is all about.