Friday, October 9, 2009

Mixed thoughts about my Kindle

I just finished reading a selection of text for my masters in publishing course at Pace University. Since Pace lent me the Kindle e-book reader, I read the text material on the gadget. In fact, I have all of my course materials on this device, as do all of the members of my class and I am getting used to it.

For us Boomers, the Kindle is easy on the eyes. You can make the type larger if you want.  And it holds a lot of books. You can have your whole library in a device that is the weight of a single paperback book. For text books, that is a wonderful thing, since they are usually heavy and lugging them around could be detrimental to a Boomer's skeletal health.

However, the Kindle is not a book. I may be sentimental, but I want to do everything I do with a book with my Kindle. I can write notes on my Kindle via a Querty (typewriter/computer) keyboard, but the keys are tiny little things that are difficult to use, and I find myself using them rarely. I wish I could use the Kindle as a tablet computer, to write notes with a pen that would be captured by the computer.

I can underline text in my Kindle, but the mechanism is difficult. The Kindle doesn't use a touch screen. Instead, there is a tiny little control button that moves a cursor to your starting point and ending point. You press and poof, the text is underlined. Grabbing on to that little control button takes a lot of effort, and I've found that the Kindle doesn't like my determination. At one point it underlined 5 pages of material at once because I held on so hard!That little control button is really difficult for anyone to use, not just a Boomer.

Kindle accumulates your underlined text for you, presumably making it easy for you to study. However, it attributes every single underline, so you usually have more attributes than highlighted text. I wish I could just use my finger or a pointing device to underline text. Then Kindle could accumulate highlighted text in a bullet point list in another document, with attribution at the top or end of the document.

However, Boomers will appreciate one of the Kindle attributes. If there is a word you don't know, a function looks it up while you are reading. For me, this is a fabulous boon. No more writing the word down and waiting until I remember to look it up! Plus, it helps us Boomers who need to stretch their brains, learn new words.

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