Me and my Kindle

Okay, so yeah, I got one. A refurbished one from Amazon.com (way cheaper than new), the larger DX model.

As the Queen of Rationalization, I had to work out my reasoning and justification for this purchase quite a lot.  And just to be clear, the decision was about 3 months in coming, so it was anything but an impulse.

I have done a lot of reading about e-readers in general and whether they are a good or a bad thing for the environment.  For example, while it’s easy to say “Hey, look at all the print books that aren’t being made, and the trees saved, by reading e-books instead of buying print ones,” that doesn’t take into account the resources that actually go into making a Kindle (or a Nook or a Sony Reader), nor how many books you’d have to not buy in order to make it all break even.  In my case, it’ll take a bloody long time, because about 2 years ago I basically Stopped. Buying. Books.

No, really, I did. We have way too many, we don’t have room for what we have, and we discovered the local public library. And I don’t have time to read very much.  Then there’s half.com, ebay’s used book site, where almost any book you could buy new at Borders or Amazon can be purchased used for half the cost and no new tree extermination.  So that reasoning doesn’t really work for me.

You know why I got it? Seriously? Because of my schoolwork. I’m getting another Master’s degree (yeah, I know, it sounds very hoity-toity when you put it that way, but dammit I’ve worked my butt off for this thing), and I’ve found that once you’re past the more simple textbook undergrad work, the reading tends to come more in the form of miscellaneous articles scanned in from books in pdf form. I’ve got piles and piles of photocopies articles from my first few years of study, from before the teachers could scan them into the computer and have us just download them. And I get headaches reading on a backlit computer for more than half an hour or so.

I’ve also found that what does come in books, at least in my case, quickly gets transformed into a nicely organized outline I can use to locate and study the material without having to wade through so many scholarly words. (What’s with the scholarly words, anyway, and why this need to use them? I find the exercise of consciously elevated language and vocabulary to permeate the field of academic discourse and praxis in a manner which may or may not be crucial to the author’s endeavors but which nonetheless is almost paradigmatic in its exercise…:-) ) (In my outline, that sentence would read, “Academics use big words because they want to sound academic, not because the words are necessary.”)

But I digress.

Anyway, did you know that Kindles, in addition to being able to read the Amazon proprietary .azw files, can also read pdfs and Word files, among other things? They can also convert Mobipocket and other standard e-reader formats (though I think “epub” is one they lack, which is a bummer).  Every Kindle user has a free Kindle email address, and all you do is attach whatever document you want to the email and it will automatically convert the files to the .azw format and email them back to you.  Then you can use the USB cable to transfer them to your Kindle. (You can also email them directly to the Kindle for a dime apiece, but, I mean, why?)  PDFs that were created from live documents (as opposed to scans) this works for too, which makes them easier to read.  Scanned documents are just treated as pictures, and they are a bit tougher to read, but it still works.

Then there’s all the public domain material available on the internet–anything old enough to pass out of copyright is likely to be found on a website somewhere for free, easily copy-able to a Word document that can then be converted to .azw.  I have a lot of that too. And now that I’m studying for comprehensive exams, the papers I wrote during the course of the degree and which I now need to study from–yup, they are on my Kindle too.

For me, having a Kindle means being able to get all my various computerized study materials into one portable and easily studied place. It is, so far, a real godsend.

Your mileage may vary.  But I so far can’t bring myself to regret this one.

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Posted on July 23, 2010, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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