"Books no longer, get lost on the shelf. They can be accessed even in the remote parts of the world, even that clunky textbook. With the Kindle, once you buy a book, it's forever yours."
I used to love Borders and Barnes and Nobles. I would spend countless hours, flipping away at shelves, relaxing in the comfy chairs, eating away at books and sipping Seattle's Best.
Those were the days. Long, and lazy with nothing in store but a good book and an open mind. Now those long, lazy days are long gone....
Planning for my European Backpacking Trip
When I was planning my trip to Europe, I knew I would spend countless hours waiting for a plane, for a train or riding on one. Since I was backpacking, I had to travel light. I was convinced then that I needed to purchase a Kindle. And since Amazon had just reduced the price on the Kindle 2 by 20%, I was off running to Target to make that storied purchase.
It didn't take me long to get acclimated. Within a couple of days, I had made my obligatory purchase of War and Peace, all 1500 pages of it which was downloaded in less than a minute. Surely, I would not be able to carry a hardcopy book of this novel aboard a plane without been charged for additional luggage. And on a Kindle, I can carry 2500 books, which Amazon hopes you will purchase.
Not so fast. Buying a Kindle doesn't necessarily mean charging up your credit card.
The very next thing I did was visit Planet Ebooks to get free version of classic literature. This is easily done using my Amazon email.
So the Kindle opens new doors to the world of Classic English literature. Welcome to A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, one of my all time favorite books about the intellectual and religious awakenings of Stephen Dedalus.
And yes, sometimes English literature can be more complex than American. And when I am stumped, I can easily download a Cliff's Notes version without having to rush to the store.
Learn French or Read the Huffington Post.
The third thing I did was sign up for a free 14-day subscription to a number of blogs that I felt would interest me or help me throughout my trip. For example, FrenchPod101.com could come in handy if I decided to visit Paris.
In truth, I did not really know where I would be going. Just happy to catch a Medevac flight to Ramstein and from there, played it all by ear.
When You Need Info in a Jiffy
But when I finally decided in the last minute to catch a train from Frankfurt to Paris, I needed information right away about places to see and hostels in the area, so I downloaded Lonely Planet France via the Whispernet which worked very reliably and quickly.
Some Samples are Nuggets of (Free) Info
What was also great were the many samples that you I ordered for free. Many of the samples (especially tourist guide books) were chock-full of information and came in very handy throughout my travels.
Highlighting without a Marker
Although I didn't highlight much, I particularly liked the new feature that allows me to see where other people have highlighted. I liked this featured (which can be turned off), since it gives me info about what parts other people found interesting. Many times, I would have completely missed it. In a way, reading an ebook is kind of like reading a blog, since we are able to get almost instantaneous input from other readers. It's a way of collaborating -- I'm sure in the future, there will be a way to read other people's notes.
Can it Talk?
Sometimes, I would get tired of reading. Especially on those long train rides (Frankfurt to Paris) or the long ferry rides (Caen to Portsmouth). But my mind was still intellectually primed and I still had time to kill. So I would simply turn on the text to speech function and slide into the lazy mode. The automated reading was not very easy to listen to (Oddly, I prefer the male over the female), but it was definitely better than missing out on the information completely. Actually, I would prefer to listen to my Ipod, but it may not be as mentally stimulating.
Works Well in Europe
I had no problems at all. I downloaded many books and sample while waiting for the train or even riding on a train. With my mind, you never know where it may drift to. If I saw someone reading a good book or overhear someone talking about a particular topic, I immediately wanted to search it. That's the way my mind works, but life is more exciting that way.
Wiki and Google Worked Like a Charm
Absolutely. I made sure to bring it whenever I took a guided tour or when I was just walking or running around. Since I didn't have Iphone connectivity, I relied on my Kindle to give background Wiki information about a particular monument or historical building.
But wait, isn't the Ipad better?
Absolutely if you want to surf the internet, but the Ipad weighs over twice as much and is much more clunky. I wouldn't necessarily carry my Ipad when taking tours. Also the Kindle is more weather resistant for those on again, off again British rains. The battery lasts forever and it is very easy on the eyes. You just got stare at an LCD screen forever without your eyes drying up. Plus the Amazon has virtually every book you can imagine which BTW can be read on your IPad (Amazon has an application that allows you to read your book across various devices), once you purchased it. Books no longer, get lost on the shelf. They can be accessed even in the remote parts of the world, even that clunky textbook. With the Kindle, once you buy a book, it's forever yours. And the best advantage of all, the Kindle is way, way cheaper.
And Now the Best Feature of All..
Ok, so I have gotten there yet. What I found, you may find surprising. Since I am generally a slow reader -- I like to chew on words -- it makes my thinking more rich. And sometimes my mild attention deficit disorder kicks in and I simply have to set my Kindle down on my lap.
When this happens, I love to read a specific book by searching for keywords. By typing in a specific keyword (the more specific the better), I get to browse through the entire book in a jiffy. I can then scroll down and review a particular page that interests me.
I know this sounds obvious, but for some reason, reading by keywords gives me immediate context since it helps me connect the dots. I know it's cheating, but life is about innovation, and if it helps me get through the book faster, there's more time to browse other books.
Take it Aboard Metro
So now that I'm home, what are my plans with the Kindle? Like my Android and Ipod, I promise to keep it close to me at all times. It's light enough to stow away in your backpack and easy on the eyes, even in dim lighting. You never know when you will be waiting for that metro train and want to read something intellectual besides "The Express" or "The Examiner" or on Thursdays, "The City Paper". Besides, if there's standing room only, I end up reading other people's copies of the headlines, anyway.
And for that Borders -- yes I still love them. If I had time, I could stow away in one for days.
But for my Kindle, I simply have a love affair.