5 Ways My Kindle Surprised Me

Filed under readin' and writin', stuff i like

Now that the iPad has been released, several people have asked me if I wish I would’ve waited another week to buy my Kindle.

And my answer is always, “Are you kidding?” The iPad is great-looking and probably fun to use, but it’s not an e-reader. The Kindle is actually everything I hoped it’d be and more, for half the price of even the cheapest iPad (and almost $600 cheaper than the most expensive one). I feel like I didn’t know half of what it was capable of before I bought it, and I wouldn’t have hesitated as long as I did had I known what I was in store for.

Built-In Dictionary: A small button on the front acts as a mouse that allows you to scroll around pages. When you rest the cursor beside any word, a text bubble pops up at the bottom of the page with the definition. I always thought I was a smartypants who was soooo good at figuring out words from their context clues, but it turns out that no, no, I am not.

Free Wireless 3G Internet Access: Why is this not the main point they’re using to sell the Kindle other than, you know, the whole being-able-to-read-books-on-it thing? The Amazon store is of course built right in, but Google and Wikipedia searches are, too, and I was even able to view this very blog on it. It was the text version, like you might see on a BlackBerry, but still. Dedicated wireless!

Highlighting and Notes: I used to carry around miniature sticky notes to plop down all over my book pages, but the Kindle not only lets you highlight the text itself, it also lets you type notes on the page you’re reading. It collects your highlights and notes in a file that lists them and includes a small excerpt from each one so you can find what you’re looking for at a glance. When you plug your Kindle into your computer’s USB port, you can copy the file from your Kindle to your computer and edit it from there. GENIUS.

Text-to-Speech: Yeah, it reads to you. I’m not talking about playing audiobooks on it. I’m talking about a male or female voice (that’s not too robotic) that recites the text for you while you eat a sandwich with one hand and wipe your butt with the other. I will never use this, but I’m pleased with its existence nonetheless.

MP3s: It plays them. While you read, on the subway, with the gangster-looking guy next to you listening to some sappy Beyoncé that you can be so thankful you don’t have to hear.

I don’t need a free hand on the train to flip the page, I don’t have to lug five paperbacks on the plane with me every time I visit my family, and I can catch up on (for free!) all of the classics I should’ve read in college but was too busy being a band groupie to take time for.

There’s one negative: the Kindle can read PDFs, but it can’t read them as well as the ebooks you buy from Amazon.com. Meaning that you can’t highlight or write notes in them. NOT A FAN. Luckily, there’s a free program called MobiPocket Creator that lets you convert your PDFs into a format the Kindle likes and can highlight/notate.

Of course, maybe I just wasn’t paying attention, and all of these things were clear to everyone else. Anyway, are you convinced yet?


  1. Ash says:

    I am convinced… now I just need some money to get it haha

  2. cow says:

    Cuz we all knowz you don’t wipe urs butt.

  3. Serial says:

    Ha! Cowbuttface!

    I’ll admit, your pimpery is seductive …. in a literary way.

  4. yay! glad you like your kindle and have found some of the fun it’s capable of. mine is languishing a bit lately–too many ‘real’ books on my nightstand, but i plan to remedy that soon. enjoy!

    • Yeah, it was funny–the first book I wanted to read upon getting my Kindle was An Education, because I loved the film so much, but of course it doesn’t have U.S. Kindle edition rights. So I had to go to Borders and buy a physical book. Ridiculous!

  5. Tracey says:

    I can’t BELIEVE I forgot to make you show me the thing while you were here. Were we really that busy?

    • Oh, weird. Aunt Brenda and Joanie got to see it, but I guess I didn’t push it on you as much as I wanted to. Probably because you were too busy MAKING ME WATCH SHOWS FROM OUR CHILDHOOD THAT I REMEMBERED AS BEING GOOD but are actually horrifying.

  6. Sigh…yet another electronic device I have to buy in order to be more Like Katie Ett in All Things.

    Kidding! I totally want one now that I read your review.

  7. bluzdude says:

    My first time here, and I enjoy your site. I’ll put your link up on my site later tonight.

    Columbus, huh? I used to live in Columbus, back in the early to mid 70’s. (as well as several other Ohio cities.) We lived in the vicinity of Northland Mall, if it’s still around…

    • Northland Mall was demolished, sadly. These pictures of the empty mall totally freak me out. I’m from just south of Columbus and grew up going to Southland Mall, but of course it’s not a mall now, either. Ohhhhh, Columbus.

      Thanks for stopping by. I’m always forcing my friends on Kelly, so I’m happy to steal one of hers.

      • Julie says:

        I actually drove past what used to be City Center earlier today. They put in NEW cobble stone streets and some housing. I don’t understand why they want the streets to seem old when they are clearly new. But the condos or whatever seemed nice.

        • Oh, neat! I didn’t realize anything had been built there; I guess I spend my limited Columbus time in the Short North.

          Ohioans are all about living in a simpler time full of religion, racism, and heterosexuality, so the cobbled streets make sense to me. I’m excited for y’all to have another park downtown, especially with the attached parking.

      • bluzdude says:

        Those pictures are freaky. I remember well a lot of those views.

        When I first started going there, it was still mostly open-air… they hadn’t put a roof on yet. I used to haunt the Doctor’s Pet Store for tropical fish. It got so where the ladies there would just let me scoop out my own fish.

        It’s a shame it’s gone. Hard to compete, nowadays.

        • Wow, you’re so old school.

          It’s weird, because the things I love about Columbus are also the things I hate about it. Like, I really enjoy going to Easton Mall with its wide open spaces and massive retailers and restaurants that can seat half the city. But I also hate wasted space and having to drive everywhere. It’s weird to me that I feel much safer in NYC than Columbus just because it’s more full.

  8. Kirsten says:

    You should be getting a free Kindle for this!

    I wish I had one of these back in high school when I had to journal about the books I was reading and had to write in the edges of the paper to take notes. However, the downside of the Kindle would be I couldnt draw hearts and stars or my name in cursive on the sides of the pages.

  9. Kim says:

    I’m jealous. I want one, and you just sold me on it further.
    But how DO you feel about it v. the iPad? Because every time I think I’m going to buy a Kindle, someone starts yelling at me about Apple and amortization (which, duh, everyone knows Apple products actually amortize quite poorly …)

    • Kim says:

      Oh! I would also like to further discuss this former practice of yours, of utilizing sticky notes to mark up your book pages.

      This is an unprecedented level of nuts and it’s AWESOME. Who doesn’t just write on the pages (I mean, unless this is your first edition copy of Wuthering Heights or something)? I love it.

      • Oh, maybe it’s best to first understand that I don’t buy books. Once I left B&N, I went hardcore library. I always love the if-you-buy-17-hardcovers-per-year-the-Kindle-pays-for-itself-because-the-books-are-so-cheap argument, because the last time I bought a hardcover was . . . like, two years ago.

        The night before my library books are due, you find me in front of my computer, typing out all of the quotes I love.

        So sad, I know.

    • The two most important things to me are a super-quick startup and ease on my eyes. When I flip on my Kindle, it goes to the exact spot where I stopped within literally a second, whereas the iPad with all of its functions takes a minute to get going. And reading on the KIndle really is like looking at ink on a page, unlike the iPad, which is backlit. I figure that if reading on a computer screen hurts my eyes after a couple of hours (or sometimes minutes), the iPad’s going to hurt them, too.

      I reeeeeeeeally thought about Kindle v. iPad, but I figured that I have most iPad functions on my BlackBerry already, and Kindle mirrors a bunch of those, too.

  10. cinnamic says:

    I love my Kindle and hug it and call it George. Well except for the George part. My favorite thing about it is the instant gratification – finding a book I want and being able to read it within seconds. I almost don’t have any patience anymore for books that aren’t on Kindle, since they take so much more time or effort to acquire. Like, DAYS. The agony.

    • Man, if only all three people I know who have Kindles had Nooks, we could all share our e-books. Because you KNOW we all happen to have the same taste in books. No?

      Oh, I recently read Her Fearful Symmetry on Noel’s recommendation, and I remember reading that you read it, too. Did you like it? If so, I’ll bet Noel would love to talk about it with you, because I was just so-so on it.

      Also, if you’re on Shelfari (and you should be), I’m here.

      • cinnamic says:

        Yes, I loved Her Fearful Symmetry! And I’m not on Shelfari. Are you reading Twilight? haha. I read that a few months ago. It suuucked. And I’m not just saying that. I WANTED to like it. I thought it would be good guilty pleasure reading… but no.

        • Well, you should be on it.

          I actually enjoyed Twilight waaaaaaaaay more than I thought I would. Of course, I went into it with the lowest expectations possible, so the fact that it had complete sentences impressed me.

  11. Mike Lowrey says:

    Um yeah.
    Grayscale vs Color….. Only you and June Cleaver pretend to be happy with their Kindles.

    I’ll wait for the HP Slate.

    Ebooks are catching on but lots of publishers will not release a lot of content to e-books.
    Authors are still very scared of losing money from DRM hacking.

  12. Kandace says:

    I am jealous of you. I WANT one. Want Want Want. For like a year or something. I even made a bet that would get me one but then my Mean husband played the Kid card. Would I rather have a Kindle or have him come home from our of state for our kids birthday. Damn Man. I still intend to get one. I Will have one. someday. :(

    • Whew, boy, you have an exciting blog. I’m surprised I haven’t previously stalked you from Belly Shirts, but I will be now.

      I figured I’d get a Kindle for Valentine’s Day this year, but then I got dinner instead. And it was a wonderful dinner, but it was NOT A KINDLE. So I bought it myself, and I wish I’d bought it sooner. So stop feeding the Kid for a month and get one!

      • Kandace says:

        I was thinking I’d get one for Christmas, or my birthday, but both passed without a Kindle. So I was thinking more like accidently forget to send my husband money for a week or two. I could say it got Lost in the system and blame someone else. He’d get upset, but he’d ultimately believe me cause I’m Really honest. 98% of the time. But that 2% Always works cause of the 98%. It’s a science.

        I’m always open to more blog stalkers. Esp ones who undestand the Fun that is Twilight. And esp who knows that Edward is not hot.