March 30, 2009 12:00 PM

The Kindle: One Reader’s Take

by Kim Hubbard

I admit it: As a rabid book lover, I was dubious about going digital. And at first Amazon’s Kindle reader—the new sleeker, amped-up version—seemed to realize my fears. Sure, you can download a novel in 60 seconds. But that musty, friendly, library-book smell? Not included. The text-to-speech option sounds robotic, and the $359 price tag (though my reader was on loan) means you’d buy loads of bestsellers at Kindle’s usual $9.99 ($5-$20 cheaper than hardcovers) before breaking even. Plus, as my scientist husband helpfully noted, “kindling” means stimulating the brain to ignite seizures. The Kindle flashes as you turn a page, making me feel on the edge myself.

Hoping for a tech-savvier view, I asked my 12-year-old to take a break from watching YouTube while texting on his cell phone and give Kindle a try. He easily lost himself in Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief (ironically enough), but later announced, “I hate that thing. It’s too hard to flip back if you forget something.” Yet the Kindle’s charms sneak up on you. Soon I was reading newspapers on the subway, no folding necessary. My shoulder didn’t ache from lugging reading material. Older books on Kindle tend to be cheaper, I found; thousands are actually free. And I don’t even notice the flash. Kindle instead of books? God forbid. In addition to them? I’m sold.

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