How the Kindle has changed my reading

January 14, 2011

In 1997, I worked for an IT company in Florida. We had some folks come in with a plan to design a pdf e-reader and wanted us to do some web work as part of their project. I wasn’t impressed then.

Spring forward to the emergence of the amazon kindle. The biggest issue at its inception was that it was a uni-tasker with a hefty price. Plus, there are few great moments in life better than hearing that hardback book crackle as you open it for the first time and smell the ink on the page. It can be intoxicating. For me. In addition, the thought of sitting at my laptop reading a pdf isn’t my favorite thing in the world to do. I almost always print them out so I can lounge around and read wherever I can get comfortable.

Then came the ipad, and I was indeed intrigued. This was a multi-tasker – light, durable, and hey, it’s made by Apple! The price point was good, Apple was opening an iBook store, you could get a kindle app for it. Maybe this ebook thing won’t be so bad. So I got the kindle app for my iphone and tried it out, and was impressed, especially when it was upgraded so I could highlight and make notes.

Then, this past fall, amazon announced the new kindle 3. And its price of $139 for the non-3g version. For someone who reads a lot, that reduces the ROI to less than a year’s worth of book buying. That was the tipping point for me, so I put in a request for a new kindle as a Christmas present. And as sure as the sun rises in the East, I received one.

Let me first say that I love it. It is a great addition to to my toy collection.

As I read my first book on it, however, I noticed some changes in my reading and how it will continue to change my reading.

1. I read faster. Now I’m not a speed reader, but I read. A lot. Not 20 books a week a lot. More like 50-75 books a year that I read from cover to cover or at least read part of. But with the kindle, I read the three books I have completed faster than reading them in print. That means more time for reading and thus more information I can consume.

2. The uni-tasking of amazon allows for more focused reading. I am not opening and closing the highlighter cap, I don’t have a pen and moleskine-type notebook that I can write in or doodle in. And with no writing instrument around, I’m not opening its top or twirling it in my hands.

3. I can make clear notes in the text rather than try to write in some code on the side margins. Those notes are available online for me as well. This facilitates #2 even more.

4. I get (almost) instant access to thoughts that I have clipped from the book. When I finish a book, I copy those notes and clippings and put them in a searchable database that I can use in future projects. That may help facilitate #1 the more I think about it.

5. I have cut down on my clipping (think highlighting). In a traditional book, I can turn it yellow with all the highlighting I do. But you get limited clipping space per book with the kindle. So before I make a note or clip something I have to decide if it is really worth that space.

6. I have to retrain my brain how I read. When I read a traditional book, I would highlight a section. And even years later, I could remember what side of the page the idea was on, what general the context of the note was, etc, so I knew generally where in the book I could find the information later. I don’t have to do that now, which may facilitate #1.

7. Everything can become readable on a kindle. A great tool to download if you have a kindle is the program Calibre. It’s available for Windows and Mac, and allows you to covert almost any document into a kindle format and then transfer that file to your kindle for you. So that big paper you need to read or the 50 page pdf that needs to be read can be converted and transferred quickly and easily for kindle reading. It may not be especially pretty, but it works great.

Do you have a kindle or nook or some other e-reader? How has it changed your reading experience?

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David has been a systems thinker most of his life. He has started three businesses as well as designed and developed systems and processes in existing organizations. He has a Doctorate in Leadership and has also done additional post-graduate work in communications.

W. David Phillips © 2018
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