Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Rekindle your love of reading!

This week we have invited a special guest blogger!

Nigel Morgan (pictured above) is a subject librarian at Cardiff University. He will be sharing his thoughts and experiences of the Amazon Kindle e-reader with us (please feel free to add your own comments too!). Here's his first instalment...

Having been surrounded by people obsessed with gadgets on my daily train commute, I'd resisted the temptation of Amazon's Kindle. However, with no space for extra IKEA bookcases to house my growing collection (I'm a sucker for those 3 for 2 offers!) I finally succumbed. And very smart it looks too in its flashy navy and scarlett fabric jacket (a £5.99 budget version of the official protective case). But what a palaver linking it to my wi-fi. With a 26 digit code to enter and lots of fiddling with buttons on my router, I felt drained of energy and enthusiasm before I'd got the thing running. I was hopping mad!

Now that I've chilled, I'm proud to tell you that I've downloaded my first books. Firstly, "Smith" by Leon Garfield (a kiddies book from the 1960s - I'm in a book club and it's this month's choice). Also, "Mr Chartwell" (about a rather nasty talking dog) and "The Crimson Petal and the White" (a ripe 'n racy tale of Victorian vice to get the heart pounding). First impressions: mild irritation. I wasn't aware that when you advance a page, a negative of the new page flashes up briefly like an X-ray burning into your eyeball. Hmm. Not the seamless transition I'd envisaged. Hope I'll get used to it.

My Kindle will be accompanying me on my commute for the first time this week. Very risky, as I've absentmindedly left enough paperbacks on trains over the years to stock a small branch of Waterstones. I don't relish the prospect of losing a £111 piece of kit. Perhaps I should chain it to my belt? My first read will be the riveting "Smith". Was I right to abandon my print paperbacks? Will I look a bit geeky? Will let you know how I get on.


  1. Prior to this I wasn't thinking of buying a Kindle Nigel, but I'll now be following your exploits with interest - thank you for road-testing it "for me"! Looking forward to reading your next installments - just don't leave it on the train :-)

  2. I’ve had my Kindle nearly 6 months now and would not want to part with it. It’s good to hear a new user’s experience, Nigel. I found that after a little bit of fiddling around I quickly got to the stage where I wasn’t aware of an electronic gizmo in my hands – I was just reading. Have you seen the free Kindle books on Amazon and also downloadable form sites like Project Gutenberg? Lots of classic novels and some authors choosing to release a book for free, for example the first in a series. Happy reading!

  3. As a Geek I have wanted a Kindle since they were released, but early adopter prices were out of my pocket's reach. However, it is much more competitive now, I opted for the Wifi (£111) version rather than the 3g (£152 {I think}) and It's just fine. As a note here: Money Saving expert site currently has a code voucher for £20 off the 3g model. Ok, 3g means it will connect to the Mobile phone network to download books from Amazon. The cheaper WiFi version connects via an available wifi network such as you probably have at home now.
    I bought a neoprene case in a pound shop which suits me just fine and yes, I use it when Commuting. I could not bear to be on a train without reading and the Kindle is lighter than the thicker paperbacks I tend to read.
    You MUST get Calibre, a free library manager for your Pc or MAc that will let you upload your free ebooks, or web bought ebooks to your Kindle which you may have sourced from sites other than Amazon (thiers get sent automatically). You can get hundreds of free Classics from Amazon and Project Gutenberg, Feedbooks and others. The format you want to look for is MOBI. Honestly, I didn't mean to kidnap this blog.. it just happened, sorry.
    I have found the Kindle to feel 'flimsy' and the seam on mine wasn't firm when I recieved it, a gentle push has fixed that, the SONY reader is a lot more solid, but harder to use (I had to help a friend upload books to hers).
    The Major problem with the kindle is it is to popular. My wife 'Borrowed' mine for 4 days! Emagine having a book you were reading tore out of your hands and held captive! So I had to buy her a kindle too, and its on the same Amazon account so we can each download books we have both bought. To tell them apart I have hacked mine and changed the screen saver images.
    I really wouldn't want to be without it now.
    maybe you need to put a text limit on these blog responces.
    Mike Swanson

  4. Addendum: Although the Kindle uses the MOBI format, Calibre will convert other formats for you automatically, epub, html, txt etc. The Kindle can read PDFs but its awkward as you need to zoom to page parts.

  5. Mike is a whiz with computers; I hasten to add I am not! I, therefore, opted for the Wi-Fi 3G version of Kindle which was much easier for me and has served to be really useful for access to the Internet when abroad, using it quite recently whilst in Singapore Airport.

    I agree with Nigel with regard to the light and would mention that this can be a problem when using the Kindle on darkened aeroplanes, it can cause you to be somewhat disoriented! Even though I had bought the more expensive cover with the “built-in-light” on the recommendation from colleague Alison Evans which has, otherwise, proved very useful! My advice to Nigel is look away when advancing pages!

    I have downloaded quite a few classics for FREE of books I have always promised myself I would read. I have recently downloaded and read “The Room” by Emma Donoghue on the recommendation of Wendy Lewis’ earlier blog and I am mid-way through “The Long Song” by Andrea Levy which was recommended by Alison Scanlon via this blog.

    The Kindle has proved a great hit with most of the family and solved all my Christmas and birthday presents dilemmas this year with hassle free shopping online. One member of the family who lives abroad is delighted to be able to access the “Times” newspaper online for a quarter of the price of a hard copy!

    Has it rekindled my love of books? Absolutely!

  6. I haven't yet succombed to a Kindle and probably won't for a while. It's not so much I'm a technophobe (though I do like the tactile nature of a nice paperback, I admit), it's just that I'm a bit tight and am waiting for the price to come down a bit! I shall watch this thread with interest, though, to see if I can be persuaded otherwise.

  7. Anyone who knows me will be aware how addicted I am to my iPhone (!!) and as such I've always fancied getting an iPad. I think it would be my preferred e-reading device purely because it is more intuitive and interactive. I also prefer its colour screen as opposed to the purely monochrome Kindle. Having said that, I like the size and portability of the Kindle, as well as its matt screen...and the obvious attraction of free 3G internet access! For me, the iPad wins hands down in terms of the overall e-reading experience, but the Kindle offers exceptional value for money.

  8. I got my Kindle for Christmas and have to say that I love it. I wanted it for the commute to work and for this purpose it suits me fine. It is lighter and more robust than many of the printed books I had crashing around my bag, I like the monochrome screen layout (and now don't even notice the negative flash between pages), and I am happy with the choice of books available - I have lots of freebies from Amazon and Project Gutenberg. I feel that I have my own personal library travelling with me wherever I go - and can even produce the odd "interesting" piece of trivia to annoy and amaze the whole family when waiting for lunch to arrive on days out! Having said this, I still love the experience of "real" books and have not reduced my visits to book shops. In fact, I think I am reading and buying more. In the end, I think it's a horses for courses situation - sometimes an ebook is easier and sometimes there is simply no alternative to curling up with print. Why not enjoy the best of both worlds?