I resisted eReaders like the Kindle and Nook for quite awhile. It was partly because I felt I was one of those people who just wouldn’t be happy without a “real” book in my hands. But it was also because I’m kind of cheap. I couldn’t see paying a couple of hundred dollars for a reader and then still have to buy the eBooks. Not when every cruiser lounge on the planet has an exchange library.
However, by last fall the prices had dropped to a point that seemed reasonable to me and I began to see the wisdom of having our reading material on an eReader that didn’t get any heavier no matter how many books it had on it. So, for Christmas last year we bought ourselves Kindles. Trying to keep things simple (and cheap) we opted for the wifi version rather than the 3G version. If I have 3G access, I can always download books to my computer and then transfer them to the Kindle.
At first, I went through the Amazon.com library to pick out all the books that, due to being in the public domain because they’re so old, were free. I downloaded about 120 books including “Dracula”, “Around the World in Eighty Days”, “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea”, “King Soloman’s Mines”, “Tarzan”, and the whole L. Frank Baum “Oz” series. It’s been great fun reading some of these old books. They just have a certain feel about them that more modern books don’t have.
Then, a young friend of ours gave me a whole file folder full of books including a lot of recent stuff. Some may see this as piracy but I see it as he gave us access to a library. There’s no way we’d buy any of these books but we’d certainly check them out of the library to read. Once read, we dump the file.
Now, this is one of the places where reading on an eReader differs greatly from reading a physical book. If you’re downloading stuff from Amazon (or Barnes and Noble, Sony, etc.), this may not apply. But in our case, we have about 1000 books on our Kindles. When I choose a book to read, assuming it’s not one I’ve heard of, I’m going in cold. I have NO idea what the book is about until I start reading. Also, since they don’t use page numbers, just percentages, I have no idea how big the book is before I start to read. This is pure random reading. I’m going in stone cold. And you know what? So far it’s worked out great. Some of the recent books I’ve read were “The Art of Racing In The Rain”, “Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter”, “About a Boy”, “All The Pretty Horses”, and “The Lovely Bones”. I’m currently 67% of the way through “Cutting For Stone”. I really had no idea what any of these books was about (with the possible exception of “Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter”) until I started reading them. They’re all completely different from one another and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed every one. In most cases, these are probably not books that I would likely pick up or even find in a cruisers’ exchange library. So just for the variety and novelty of what I’m reading these days I love my Kindle as well as my eBook benefactor.
The other thing is, and I have no explanation for this, I seem to be reading books a LOT faster than I did before the Kindle. I have no idea why that would be but it sure seems to be.
But one of the coolest features is how quickly you can get a book. The other day I was reading about a book, “The Moneyless Man” on Boat Bits. It sounded interesting so I went to Amazon, looked it up, and then ordered it and downloaded it to our computer from which I transferred it to our Kindles. Just like that. Did the same thing when we were visiting my brother back in July. He had an intriguing book called “Pot On The Fire: Further Confessions of A Renegade Cook”. Sounded interesting, Amazon had it in eBook format, I ordered it and downloaded it. Literally, less than a minute after I decided I wanted the book, I owned it and actually had it in hand. That’s just too cool. Sometimes the prices aren’t all that great, but I’ve gotten so many free books I think it evens out.
But, the main reason to have an eReader on a boat is the same reason our music is all mp3 files on either an iPod or a mini external hard drive (both, actually), and our mvies are on mini hard drives: because, who needs the weight of books, CDs, DVDs, etc.? We off-loaded 5 grocery bags of books when we were in Puerto Escondido. We still have the reference books aboard but all the general reading stuff is now just a bunch of zeros and ones. God help us if we have an EMP attack!