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How Owning an Amazon Kindle Made Me Smarter and Changed My Life

Updated on March 13, 2013

Why I Resisted Buying A Kindle

When the Amazon Kindle first went on sale in 2007, I thought it was just another expensive electronic gadget. That first generation Kindle sold for close to $400;a big " ouch" as far as I was concerned and not worth the money.

Also, I told myself, I preferred real books to any electronic reader and though I was a frequent buyer on Amazon and saw all the ads and info about Kindle on the site whenever I was there, I was just not interested.

Even though I had never touched or even seen a real life Kindle,I knew that it could not possibly replicate the feel of a real book, with that indefinable ink and paper smell and the comfortably repetitive motion of turning pages one by one. My books were my friends. To abandon them for an impersonal, cold hard machine like the Kindle was unthinkable. I was not ever going to buy a Kindle-- not me. I was like some old geezer in a horse and buggy, shaking a fist as a ModelT Ford went by and yelling "get a horse" None of those new-fangled gadgets for me. No sir-eeeee

Opening Up To Kindle

One day I sat next to a woman on the train who was reading from a Kindle. I was really curious. I craned my neck and peered over at it.

I asked her how she liked it. She brimmed with enthusiasm and went on and on about how many books she could store on the device, how she could change the size of the font, downloading her daily newspaper onto it etc. etc. I said , rather smugly, that I preferred the look and feel of a real book and that I would never read the New York Times online. What this woman said next totally rocked my world. She said:

" Owning a Kindle doesn't mean you have to give up books. It's not an either/or thing"

The concept absolutely blew me away. Buying a Kindle did not mean I had to give up books. The Kindle was just another way of receiving and processing the written word: an addition rather than a substitution. Duh! Why hadn't I thought of that and , more importantly, why I was so resistant to the idea of reading electronically? What was it about electronic readers that threatened me so much?

I thought back to the days of my childhood, when TV was just coming in. There was lots of talk back then about how TV was going to ruin the minds and destroy the bodies of the younger generation. TV was the enemy. It was going to do everything from annihilating radio and Hollywood to promoting tooth decay. TV was going to be the downfall of Western Civilization, which is hard to imagine considering that there were only three, grainy black and white channels back then, and they only broadcasted for twelve hours a day.

Then it hit me. My resistance wasn't about the Kindle. it was about change. I was just being a stubborn curmudgeon, rejecting a new way of doing things because I wanted the world to stand still. Change was what I feared, not the Kindle itself. My mind was closed, tighter than (you should excuse the expression) a book

I bet those Medieval monks toiling away in the scriptorium illuminating vellum manuscripts by hand felt the same way about that new fangeled printing press and the Gutenberg Bible. It is a normal human reaction to want to stay in control of your own little world. That's what my resistance was about. Once I realized that, a weight lifted off my shoulders and my entire point of view shifted.

I Was the Problem

Once I stopped being scared of progress, I got a Kindle and dove right in.Reading on it was just like reading paper pages only better. Unexpected perks were that I could read without my glasses if I just made the font bigger on the screen. I didn't need to mark my place with a bookmark or turn down the corner of a page. Kindle remembered where I had stopped and picked right up. I could also take notes and mark quotes and keep them on the kindle( useful for a blogger like me) AND I could even set up the Kindle to read to me out loud so I could peel potatoes or whatever while Kindle read to me. Since then I have discovered a world of free kindle downloads, Kindle blogs, and newspapers and magazines delivered wirelessly to my Kindle. Getting newspapers and periodicals this way is cheaper and greener, too, since there is no newspaper to recycle. I can even borrow books for my Kindle from my local library.

By now I am an old pro and am on my second Kindle. It fits neatly in my purse and goes with me everywhere. I have hundreds of books and articles stored on it. When I am researching a topic or writing about something I often download books or magazine articles to my Kindle,where I can not only read them but also can save quotes and make notes,which is enormously helpful. It's great to be able to carry a whole library with me on one little device when I travel. I can read equally easily on a plane, on the beach, in the doctor's office or in a hotel lobby.

I still have shelves full of books in my life and I still like the comforable familiarity of turning printed pages before falling asleep at night. There are some books I prefer to own in paper format (art and photography books for example and some travel books) and, of course, you can't exactly get an author to autograph a Kindle copy of his book for you. But Kindle has opened a door and added a new dimension to my world. It has taken nothing away. It has expanded my knowledge base and taught me new skills.

It has made me smarter and changed my life for sure.

The Future Is Now

I've been reading via Amazon Kindle for about two years now and my excitement continues to grow. Every day there are hundreds of new books published for the Kindle and a bevy of blogs reviewing them. In fact, there is a whole new category of " ebooks" which in the past would have been considered booklets, or articles or short fiction. They are 35 to 50 pages and tend to sell for around a dollar. Many are even free. They are a lot of fun and open up a whole new world of opinion, how to, promotion and short fiction to the avid reader.

In addition there are free sites where you can get all the classics that are in public domain and read them, or re-read them on your Kindle for free. Amazon and a few other sites offer Kindle freebees-- books you can download for free for a limited time. Below is a guide to some of my favorite Kindle sites and blogs. It goes without saying, that the most important resource is itself where you will find not only the Kindle Store, but also extensive tutorials, forums, bulletin boards, support and a whole vibrant Kindle community.

e-Books Are the Future

In 2011, electronic books outsold the traditional printed ones for the first time ever. 2012 was another banner year for ebooks.The trajectory for this is up up up. We are all part of a brave new world that has much to offer. Never fear, Luddites and traditionalists. Nobody will take away your printed books just because you buy a Kindle and just as radio did not disappear with the advent of TV,there will always be a place for the printed page.

Today the dedicated e-reader is becoming passe. Just as the desktop computer was basically replaced by the laptop and the laptop is fast being overtaken in popularity by tablets and smartphones as a source for

Life is about change. Hang on to your hat, fasten your seat belt and enjoy the ride.


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