Adventures of Reading a Book on a Kindle

KindleMy book club met the day before I headed to Boston. While we planned out the 12 months of reads, we had a little change up because someone left the book club. Most of us weren’t enthusiastic about the departed member’s choice. Instead, we moved October’s book to September, and November’s to October and so on. Although I order a few books at a time to stay ahead, this time I didn’t have the next book I needed.
I knew that traveling to Boston would provide plenty of time for catching up on reading. I didn’t have time to go to the book store. Even if I did, it may or may not have The Girl from Foreign. So it forced me to buy my first Kindle book and download it.
Uh oh. Trouble.
We’re Having Technical Difficulties
It had been so long since I had looked at the Kindle, its battery died. I plugged in the charger to get it going. But the charger had a weak connector that kept coming loose causing the Kindle to stop charging.
<Wiggle wiggle> Finally. Stay… don’t move. Light stay on.
After the Kindle finished charging, I downloaded the book and promptly turned off the wireless. Leaving the wireless on can run down the battery faster as the Kindle keeps listening for whispers of a download.
I read a few magazines first to get through them. (I had a pile of magazines to go through and took a bunch with me.) Halfway through the flight, I turned on the Kindle and selected The Girl from Foreign. I liked the crispness and design of the contents. Comfortable and easy on the eyes.
The first annoyance was the turning of pages. At times, the Kindle would flicker and not instantly load the next page. It felt like I returned to the ’80s when computers were slower and things took longer to load. Or the Internet of the ’90s.
Formatting was also an annoyance. Sometimes spaces between words were missing. (I know this happens in print, but I noticed it more in reading this book.) Sometimes paragraphs got split into two pages leaving one page with half of a page’s worth of content.
Since this was a memoir, it had photos. None of the photos contained captions. I couldn’t tell what the photo was about from reading the paragraph before or after the photo. At the end of the book, I found a list of photos and associated page numbers. The page numbers matched the printed version’s page numbers, not the Kindle. In other words, three digit page numbers instead of four. I couldn’t click the photo caption to jump to look at the photo. It was tedious trying to match up the photos with the captions. Dark age computing.
Digital Page Numbers vs. Print Page Numbers
I couldn’t get used to having  four digit page numbers (line numbers). Why couldn’t it match the book? I knew it was possible because the passenger next to me had an ereader and it used page numbers. Plus, it had a clock at the top of the page. To see what time it was, I had to hit “Menu” and it’d appear there.  I understood that Amazon wanted to provide line numbers for easier searching — but it can do this while retaining print’s page numbers.
Using the print’s version’s page numbers would also make it feel like you’re making progress in the book. It took a long time to feel like I made progress even with the progress bar on the bottom.
The bookmark, search and notes features came in handy. I bookmarked facts for later and instant referencing. When a person’s name came up — and he had not been mentioned for a while — I searched the book to jog my memory. Took fewer than 10 seconds. In the print version, I’d be flipping longer.
It was a neat experience, but not enough of one to convince me to switch to ebooks. At least, I have the option of getting a book instantly or downloading a few if I ever manage to go on a long vacation. That way, I don’t carry multiple books — just one reader loaded with multiple books.
Update on September 22, 2010: I had my book club meeting on this book last night and it turns out the pictures don’t have captions with them. All the captions appear in the back of the book with the page numbers. Big mistake. They need to be with the photo. And the Kindle should be able to link those pages so you can jump to the picture associated with the captions.
What do you think of ereaders?

5 thoughts on “Adventures of Reading a Book on a Kindle”

  1. Meryl,
    Anyone who’s read my blog knows I read on my Kindle almost exclusively. In fact, I feel badly that I haven’t read a print book I won in a drawing on a blog. I had every intention of reading it as soon as my healed from cataract surgery, but I find it uncomfortable to hold a paperback book and difficult to turn pages when I’m eating (and I often read while eating). I keep putting the paperback down and picking up my Kindle.
    The problem with page numbers is that they aren’t accurate. I make the font very large in my Kindle, which means the pages are nothing similar to the page numbers in the print book. When I convert PDF files to read on my Kindle, the page numbers usually carry through. However, they appear in the weirdest places because the “page” on the screen is totally different from the page in print.

  2. Lillie, ebook readers are great for people who need large print or cannot hold a book very well (the Kindle would’ve been very helpful after I had my thumb surgery — it was a struggle to read books). You’d think by now Amazon would resolve the page numbers problem. We can’t be the first people to complain about it.


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