Adventures in Reading

Re-examined: eBook/Kindle
April 2, 2008, 7:16 am
Filed under: thoughtful

Quite a few posts back, Claire C. Cake made an important comment to my eBook/Kindle post that I wanted to share:

I was browsing at Amazon today and noticed a promotion for their Kindle. I glanced at the device and briefly remembered your entry before carrying on with my desired searches, but as I browsed I kept thinking about how neat these eBook/Kindle devices would be for people with disabilities who have physical difficulty handling actual books.

You already touched upon a woman who had to use an eBook because of her book allergies, but I am another type of book-challenged individual. For me, the difficulty often lies in manipulating a book due to its size or weight; fighting with a book’s binding (i.e., books that flip shut continuously, books that must have their spines broken fully to read the pages, etc.); an inability to use two hands; or even the inability to sit in a comfy chair and just relax with a good read.

Thinking about it more and more, these examples could very much be the actual reasons behind why I do not consider myself an avid reader. In short: it’s just too much work and is often physically exhausting. It’s often just easier to watch a movie or read a blog ABOUT books instead of an actual book itself. I’ll have to give this eBook/Kindle thing a try some day, but for now it exceeds my budget.

This is not meant to be in any way a direct comparison to Claire C. Cake’s disability, but a few weeks ago I had an accident while washing dishes and ended up in the ER with stitches in my left hand [1]. Prior to this I have never had to consider the physical unwieldiness of books, but for two weeks I had quite a difficult time maneuvering most of the books I was reading. In fact, for the first few days I pretty much didn’t read at all because I thought that so much attention spent on turning a page without having the book snap shut “just shouldn’t” be an issue. However, this is a regular issue for some people and the more streamlined and near weightless eBook/Kindle certainly provides one solution.

Additionally, the eBook/Kindle also sports some features that are more smart or more in-tuned to people’s needs. For example, the ability to change the size of the font [2] is terrific. Exceptionally few books ever make it to large print and once they do the price often seems to surpass its standard print counterpart. What I’ve learned? I’ve learned to be a little more open minded considering the possibility of the eBook/Kindle meeting other people’s needs rather than (quite selfishly) reflecting entirely on my own needs.

[1] This also explains the few days without posts: when it comes to typing I am surprisingly ambidextrous and one hand does not cut it!
[2] I believe it’s possible to even change the actual font.


This is exactly why I love ebooks. I don’t have a Kindle–I read them on my PDA, and I love to lie in bed and be able to hold the device with one hand. To change pages, just press a little button with your thumb. A little while a go I tried reading a real, paper book and put it away almost immediately from the discomfort of holding the thing!

You can carry hundreds of ebooks around with you in one device. And PDAs are smaller than Kindles and fit in your purse for easy access when waiting in long lines. And you can read in the dark (on planes or in bed when your partner is already asleep). I could go on….

Comment by laura

That does make it sounds more tempting! It’s funny that I automatically assume it would be harder on the eyes to read something electronically when I know about things like adjusting the text size. I wonder if there have been accessibility studies on that end of it….

Comment by oakling

Laura: I really need to get my hands on a PDA/eBook/Kindle for a weekend to more fully flesh out my opinion. I must admit to quite some prejudice when it comes to electronic readers as I’ve seldom had my hands on one.

Oakling: The more I think beyond my own needs when it comes to eReadders, the more possibilities that I can see.

Comment by bookchronicle

I do recommend you do! I really didn’t think much about reading ebooks until traveling abroad where books are much more expensive. And it’s hard to pack a nice reading collection into a small suitcase. So my palm became indispensable for reading. And now that’s pretty much all I read. I get them mostly free–public domain works are already available as free downloads at many websites (mine as well as others). So I’ve started up quite a reading habit that I didn’t have before, mostly because it was too expensive to buy all the books I wanted!

You can get a cheap pda without all the frills on ebay for about $30–and it works fine for just reading ebooks and keeping your contacts or datebook if you want as well.

Comment by laura

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