Tuesday, March 24, 2009

I don't know how the Kindle will change my reading habits.

I mentioned this briefly last week, but it needs its own post. My dear friend and former housemate Joseph upgraded to a Kindle 2 last month, and was kind enough to pass his first-generation Kindle on to me.

It's already changing my life for the better, but I'm still trying to figure out its long-term implications.

First of all, I don't think I'm a typical Kindle user. I read more than most people do, and buy only a fraction of the books I read; publishers and authors send me review copies, and I'm also a moderate-to-heavy library user. I work at home, so don't read on buses or subways, and don't carry books around with me except when I'm traveling. (I do, however, carry books when I travel; I brought 20 paperbacks to New York, and have -- um -- nine with me on this trip to Washington. In my defense, five of those were in a box I picked up at the post office as I left town.)

In many ways, however, the Kindle was designed for me. My apartment, as you might imagine, overflows with books, manuscripts, and screenplays (I really need to figure out a way to recycle them; when I get home, I'll probably ask to borrow someone's Hatch Hill permit). If I can get review copies on the Kindle, I will.

I'm already uploading electronic manuscripts to the Kindle, so I will no longer need to ask clients to send me paper copies. Previously, I read the paper copy while I marked up the electronic version; it was too hard for me to read extended text on a computer screen, but the Kindle screen feels like reading words on a page instead of a screen. Just because of that, my Kindle will save some trees.

Beyond that, however, I'm not sure I'll buy any fewer books because of the Kindle. I like having signed first editions of books that are important to me, and I like giving books as gifts. Unlike most people I know, I'm a re-reader, and I also like to be able to take a book off a shelf to find a reference or make a point. (The Kindle's search function makes this easy, but then you lose the serendipity of the search, which I believe in.)

The immediate and major benefit of my Kindle is that I have a New Yorker subscription for the first time in about 15 years. I love the New Yorker, but couldn't keep up with it; because I took copies on trips and always thought I'd get to back issues eventually, I never threw them away. At least one of my moves in the mid-1990s may have been just to force myself to throw away my New Yorker stockpile. Now they all live on the Kindle, and I can read a single article without feeling guilty about wasting the rest of the magazine.

Anyone else have a Kindle yet? How has it changed your reading habits?

1 comment:

Larry said...

Take a look at Terry Gerritsen's blog of a few days ago. A publisher sent notification that they would no longer send printed galleys instead sending them electronically via a pdf file. Kindle technology fits that mold.