Nothing but the truth!
By Will Power
January 1, 2012 (San Diego)--Perhaps because she is tired of tripping on books I leave in boxes throughout the house, my wife bought me a Kindle for Christmas. Curiously, the Kindle came in a brown box with NO instructions. But I managed to activate it anyway and spent one whole day figuring out the basic elements. That's how long it took just to get it running. For example, the directions say the Kindle needs four hours of charging before use. If you can activate it right away, good luck! You will run out of battery before you get up and running.
Next came Amazon sticker shock. The Kindle e-books which used to be a universal $9.99 are now up to $27 for Massie's new bio on Catherine the Great. So for a whole day I played around and could not get anything useful.
Then I contacted my local libraries! Hooray! They have limited numbers of books on amazon.com that are free if checked out on the library's screens. The numbers are quite limited and there are waiting lists for most books. But I managed to finally download five or six books for free. This thing might be useful after all!
But reading with a miniature reader is distinctly un-book-like.
You can make the type bigger or smaller, but you have to drag your thumb across the reader to change pages. It's an unnatural movement and could cause injury.
But the worst problem is graphics. The large plates or maps in most non-fiction books are easy to read, but the e-books have tiny (1/12th scale) displays, so you might need new glasses or a magnifying glass.
My wife is praying the Kindle will stop my book-buying. But I have my doubts. If Google or Amazon manage to buy up all the books worth reading, we could have a real problem with monopoly of information, which is the worst monopoly of all.
Now I have to go and ice my thumb! What if Kindle comes out with a model Fahrenheit 451?
Will Power is a retired history teacher and creative writing instructor.