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Kindle Convert

Kindle?  iPad?  Nook?  Whatever the other ones are called?

A lot of people seem to be betting on the future of e-readers.  My father, a frequent flyer, was an early adopter.  I think he had a Kindle 2, and overall he enjoyed it.  He still had to pack an actual book for take-off and landing, and the page-turning buttons were awkwardly positioned, but he has certainly kept reading on it.

This weekend, I finished reading my first e-novel (Mockingjay, the final installment of the Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins) on the Kindle 3, I must say I'm hooked.  (Pretty stellar reviews here, here, and here.  The consensus seems to be that it's a good improvement over the past models, and the front of the class in terms of e-readers.)

The screen is easy to read, even for long stretches.  I read a few hours straight on one leg of a flight, and my eyes didn't get tired the way they do staring at, say, this laptop screen.  The books are easy to navigate, and particularly easy to buy, which is dangerous.  (Amazon forces you to use 1-Click purchasing for e-books, rather than their traditional cart.  Impulse buying is the order of the day.)  The device is remarkably light and, as the pictures on Amazon's website show, incredibly thin.

One other observation.  Since I wasn't turning traditional pages (you navigate by a sliding percentage scale across the bottom of the screen, because you can change the type size and, therefore, the page count), the experience felt more fluid somehow.  Like a long flowing tale, rather than one that's been broken into chunks.  I had a vague sense of where I was in relation to the beginning or end of the story (based on the scale), but I wasn't reminded physically how far I had to go each time I picked up the "book."  It was a pleasant and entirely unexpected aspect of experience.

For the right kind of books, the Kindle -- especially this new version -- is a great way to consume literature.  It'll never replace books, but I don't think it's meant to.  It's a reading augmentation device.  For light and  popular fiction, hardback books, and especially long reads, the Kindle is the way to go.  (Incidentally,Mockingjay was a good, fast, light read.  Darker than you might expect YA novels.  Grim even.  And though it meandered a bit in the last third, it was a very good first e-read.)

Most of my classic reads this coming year I'll still read on paper, but for a lot of other books and stories, count me in as a Kindle convert.