The Nexus of Pop-Culture Fandom

The Digital Book Revolution: Amazon’s Kindle App

Written by: Beth Woodward, CC2K Books Editor

ImageBack at the beginning of the year, I made a resolution to by Amazon’s Kindle e-book reader before the end of the year.  Well, after a few unexpected financial hurdles earlier this year, I finally found myself in a position where I could afford to splurge a little.

And….I bought an iPhone instead.  Sue me.  (In my defense, I hadn’t bought a new phone since 2006 and my battery was completely shot.)  But being the devoted Book Editor that I am, I immediately went and downloaded the Kindle application for my iPhone.  The application itself is free; the books, which you can download from Amazon, generally cost $9.99, a significant discount from the list price in many cases (many cost even less).  Any books available to download to the Kindle can also be downloaded to your iPhone via the Kindle application.

So I started reading books…on my telephone.  And you know something?  I actually like it.

And while I still love the feel of page-and-paper books, the idea of having any book at your fingertips, anytime you want, is quite exhilarating.  Amazon’s Kindle library is constantly expanding; according to its site, over 360,000 titles are available now.  And when you select a title, it downloads directly to your phone within a matter of seconds.

Something like this is great for traveling.  I’m both a fast and voracious reader.  When I go on vacation or head home for the holidays, I generally go through about 2-3 books, maybe more.  Of course, that presents a bit of a packing impediment: three books creates a lot of extra weight in my carry-on bag.  But since I’d be carrying my phone with me anyway, the weight is no longer an issue.  At a compact 4.5 inches by 2.4 inches, it fits easily into my purse.

Of course, the small size also means a much smaller screen than you would find on a normal Kindle (the standard size boasts a 6-inch screen), which might be a little annoying to some people.  The application does allow you to increase or decrease the standard text size; there are six levels from smallest to largest.  You also have the option of three background colors: white, black, and sepia.  Of course, if the screen size is annoying you, none of these things will help.

The application also works off of the iPhone’s touch screen, which can get a little frustrating as you’re reading.  Bumping the screen can flip pages backward or forward.  Your best bet, so that you don’t lose your place, is to “mark” a page (by folding down the corner) when you stop reading.  Unfortunately, other than that, there’s really no way to navigate between pages easily.  The pages are numbered by screens, so unless you happen to know the part you want to read is on screen 1,347, you’re pretty much stuck with flipping through the pages one at a time.  In that case, it’s much more time-consuming than a regular book.  Not such a big deal with fiction (unless you’re trying to re-read some part to figure out who’s who, which I do frequently), but it could be problematic with textbooks or reference materials.

But one thing surprised me the most about the Kindle application: how much I liked it.  It’s convenient, it’s cheaper than going to a bookstore, and it’s fast.  When I started thinking about the Kindle, I bemoaned the potential loss of paper-and-ink books.  Although there’s still nothing quite like the feeling of a brand-new book in your hands, there are certain advantages to the digital revolution.  And in the end, what does it matter: you’re reading the same book, regardless.

Selected Book Releases, November 23-December 6

November 23

A Good Fall
by Ha Jin

November 24

Pirate Latitudes by Michael Crichton

The Imperial Cruise: A True Story of Empire and War
by James Bradley

American Sketches: Great Leaders, Creative Thinkers, and Heroes of a Hurricane by Walter Isaacson

First Lord’s Fury by Jim Butcher

Hollywood Moon by Joseph Wambaugh

The Collaborative Habit
by Twyla Tharp

Delilah by India Edghill

The New York Times Practical Guide to Practically Everything, second edition, edited by Amy D. Bernstein and Peter W. Bernstein
Will Shortz Presents Sudoku for a Brain Workout, intro. by Will Shortz

Flirt by Tracy Brown, K'wan, and Angel Mitchell

Here's the Deal: Don't Touch Me by Howie Mandel, with Josh Young

by Dean Koontz

Metal Gear Solid 2: The Novel by Raymond

The Morning Show Murders by Al Roker and Dick Lochte

November 25

All Things at Once
by Mika Brzezinski

November 30

Thank Heaven by Leslie Caron

December 1

You: Having a Baby: The Owner’s Manual to a Happy and Healthy Pregnancy by Mehmet Oz and Michael Roizen

U Is for Undertow
by Sue Grafton

Stones into Schools by Greg Mortenson

Highest Duty by Chesley Sullenberger and Jeffrey Zaslow

Cleaving: A Story of Marriage, Meat and Obsession
by Julie Powell

Trial by Fire by J.A. Jance

The Art of Avatar by Lisa Fitzpatrick

Knives at Dawn: America's Quest for Culinary Glory at the Legendary Bocuse d'Or Competition
by Andrew Friedman

Starcraft: Heaven’s Devils by William C. Dietz

The Disappeared by M.R. Hall

Talking About Detective Fiction by P.D. James

The Paris Vendetta by Steve Berry