I have a confession to make, and it’s one that surprises me as much as anybody else: my Kindle has been collecting some serious dust this year. I always swore that tablets and e-ink were different animals, that use of one need not threaten use of the other, that you would have to pry my Kindle from my cold, dead hands and so on. Well, now, I stand corrected. 90% of my reading this year has been on my tablet device, and here’s why.
1) Sometimes, you just need a backlight. I like to read just before bedtime, and since my move in May, have had better bedtime habits than I did when I lived alone. I like having some time with the boy before we turn the lights out, and since he goes to bed much earlier than I used to, I have been hitting the sheets by 10 pm. Since I am naturally a night owl, I am awake for at least an hour or so and that is plenty of reading time, right? Well, yes. But—the new bedroom only has one power outlet, and it’s on his side of the bed, so I find myself wanting to read but lacking the Kindle-friendly light source I need to do it. Backlit iPod Touch to the rescue! Without it, I couldn’t read during the time of day when I most want to. And if my eyes do get fatigued (they haven’t, but even so) then so what? It’s bedtime. I was going to sleep anyway.
2) Sometimes, lifestyle dictates choice of device at hand. I find that during the work week, I tend to have my iPod Touch with me because I use it during my morning commute, and then during the day I have the iPad with me because the computers at school are unreliable so I keep everything on there. If I have a few minutes to read during lunch, that is what I have with me. I am unlikely to bring the Kindle to work just for the lunch break since it’s just an extra thing to carry and I can view the same content on the iPad. I also find that during these shorter breaks, I am more likely to go for magazines (since I can finish a whole article in even a very short reading break) or cookbooks (if I am planning to grocery shop on my way home and am trolling for new ideas). Both of these genres look much better on the iPad’s glossy screen than on the stark black and white of the Kindle.
3) Syncing is just so easy on a tablet these days, especially now that I can sync personal documents (aka non-Amazon books) across my devices using the Kindle server. I love that I can read on the bus on my iPod Touch, resume the story later on my iPad while on a lunch break, and then finish it at night on my iPod Touch. I realize that I could add the Kindle into that loop and sync to there too, but given my reading habits (i.e. I tend to read mostly while on the bus or in bed) it just wouldn’t be worth my time . I’d have three sets of reading list to go in and delete finished books off of, and I’d deplete the battery on my Kindle faster because I’d need to leave the wireless on all the time. It seems easier to just keep my main reading on the two devices I use most and to save my Kindle for special purposes.
So, is my Kindle ready for the trash heap? Not necessarily. I am keeping a small but valuable stash of French books on there because I like that the hardware Kindle (unlike the app versions) lets you load a custom dictionary so that you can read in other languages. And I also have a pile of mystery magazines and short story anthologies on there because the collections feature (also absent in the app versions) lets me group those together and work through them at my own pace without cluttering up my screen with hundreds of entries. And for travel, the Kindle with its long battery life can’t be beat!
But with that said, I must admit that if anything happened to my hardware Kindle, I probably wouldn’t miss it much and would not rush out to replace it. Reading on a tablet, for me, has become such a natural, easy routine that I use my Kindle much less than I used to but am reading more than ever. Still, if you had predicted a year a ago that a book lover like me would have a Kindle sitting in the corner, neglected, I probably wouldn’t have believed you!