The Kindle test – slow reading in fast times

Book shelf full of books - no Kindle!

All these books! Not only that they don’t fit into the bookshelves, they always take up half of the airline luggage allowance. We hope to reduce the bulk with the help of an e-reader, and decided to test a Kindle because of the broader range of books available (at least in English; and these are noticeably cheaper, too).

So far, our Kindle test has been a mixed experience.

Kindle reading qualities

The most obvious concern is the quality of the display. Who would always want to squint at a kind of computer screen, and even in daylight? But we had seen people using e-readers at the pool in Upper Egypt, 45 °C and scorching sun. The display does indeed look like paper. It’s not backlit and not reflecting, it doesn’t hurt the eyes, and it doesn’t take 10 minutes and a jingle to start the system.

Soviet porcelain set: Girl reading the Stalin constitution
Uzbek girl reading the Stalin constitution, from a St Petersburgh porcellain manufacture

Technical aspects

The Kindle is also lightweight, easy to hold and easy to use. You could store a whole library on it, and the battery seems to be running forever. For straightforward reading – one line after another –it is perfect. It only gets tricky when you want to navigate in a text or between texts. The TOC is always several different button clicks away, some e-books don’t even have one, and converting your own files into a useful format does take some effort.

Where the Kindle fails

Everything digital has the image of being fast. That may be true for letters and shopping – but just as digital cameras tend to click only that moment too late when whatever had been happening is already over, the Kindle has its slow moments. For a real page-turner, that moment it takes the display to flick on a new screen feels painfully long. Flipping through a few pages to check how far it is to the end of the chapter takes a small eternity, flipping back another one – and then you have to find the spot where you stopped without a finger to leave between the pages. The next edition will definitely need an instant bookmark button for that purpose.

Library in Seoul
And also: We still like real libraries and bookstores!

NB: Our Kindle test was not sponsored in any way. We paid for the Kindles and we pay for the books.

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