Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Moving into e-books

For nearly twelve months I've been dithering over a decision, but last week I took the plunge - I bought a Kindle.

The reason that I dithered was because I didn't want to be a 'traitor' to the hard copy books that I love to handle, and see on my shelves.

I've been a small customer of Amazon for a while, and I think that I have been eventually worn down by their regular emails recommending further reading, in line with books that I'd previously ordered.

Every email was also advertising the Kindle, and eventually, my admittedly tenuous resistance was broken. So last week, I clicked "Order Now", and within a few days it arrived. I don't want to see the end of printed books that I can hold in my hands, but that's not going to happen in my lifetime, and after all, this is the 21st Century, so why can't traditional printed books and e-books go hand in hand?

A practical reason for buying a Kindle is that I'm getting on a bit now, and while I love to read in bed, my arms have started to get tired of holding rather large, heavy and cumbersome books. Now (courtesy of Amazon information), my Kindle weighs less than 170 grams, fits in my coat pocket, and holds up to 1,400 books, which will do me for a while. As an aside, I was struck by Amazon's vision for Kindle, where they say, "Our vision for Kindle is to have every book ever written, in every language, available in 60 seconds from anywhere on earth". Now, I've written a few vision statements in my time, but nothing so awesome as this one.

My reader will no doubt be asking how on earth did I get on setting the thing up, knowing about my aversion to setting up anything. Well, all I had to do apparently was link it in with my wi-fi; how hard can that be? It turned out that in spite of me being stupid, it wasn't very hard at all, and I was already to go. Now was the time to download (or is it upload? I can never remember) some books. Being the big spender that I am, I decided to see what I could get for £10, and I ended up getting five books (which I'll come to in moment).

Because I've ordered from Amazon before, all of my details are on file. Being still a bit awestruck by technology, I was amazed by their "one-click to order" button. I selected the book, clicked the button, and I swear that within 10 seconds I had an order confirmation email, and the book on my Kindle. This happened with all five books. I was well impressed, though I did exceed my budget by 28 pence. So what did I purchase and why?

  1. Crap MP's by Dr Bendor Grosvenor and Dr Geoffrey Hicks(99p) -  This is the authors' choice of 40 MP's from the 16th Century to the present day, but there's nothing really that hasn't been said before.
  2. The Prince & The Art of War by Niccolo Machiavelli (77p) - I've read about Machiavelli before, but never something by him. I'm interested to learn from his own words how the word 'Machiavellian' came into our language.
  3. The Complete Works of Thomas Paine (77p) - This radical political figure of the 18th Century, active in England, America and France, as well as a powerful advocate of Deism, has long fascinated me.
  4. The CIA World Factbook 2012 (£1.30) - No idea why I bought this. I think I just got carried away in the excitement.
  5. More Time for Politics by Tony Benn, Diaries from 2001 - 2007 (£6.45) - I've just finished his 'Free at Last' diaries from 1991 - 2001, and as he is one of my political heroes, I wanted to read more. 
So what do I think of my three days with Kindle? Marvellous; now I wish I hadn't waited nearly twelve months to get it. I now of course spend even longer sitting on a bench in the middle of the day. 

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