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Read this before you buy a Kindle

Zafar Anjum | Nov. 6, 2009
Are you planning to buy or give a Kindle this festive season?

Are you planning to buy or give a Kindle, Amazon.coms beautifully designed e-reader, this festive season? If yes, you should read this blog post.

Do you live outside the US and plan to get a Kindle? If yes, then you must read the following.

But first, a confession. I dont have a Kindle. Like you, I too want to have one and thats why I am looking at its pros and cons. There are many questions that bother meis it worth it and how does it compare to its competitors, especially the Sony e-reader, to begin with.

That brings us to the nub of this blog. Like you, I too was looking for information on this topic and thats when I came across these two interesting write-ups on the Kindle experience.

Kindle DXThe first one is an essay by Nicholson Baker in The New Yorker (A New Page: Can the Kindle Really Improve on the Book). Like most New Yorker essays, this too is a sprawling piece of American journalism at its bestit runs into nearly 8 pages! So I thought I will glean some relevant points from the essay and present them as easy-to-digest facts for you (if you enjoy reading a piece of fine writing, do click on the hyperlink).

•    The problem was not that the screen was in black-and-white; if it had really been black-and-white, that would have been fine. The problem was that the screen was grey. And it wasnt just grey; it was a greenish, sickly grey. A post-mortem grey. The resizable typeface, Monotype Caecilia, appeared as a darker grey. Dark grey on paler greenish grey was the palette of the Amazon Kindle.

•    Monotype Caecilia was grim and Calvinist; it had a way of reducing everything to arbitrary heaps of words.

•    I asked Josh Christie, who worked there, to recommend a truly gut-churningly suspenseful novel. I was going to do a comparison between the paperback and the Kindle 2 version. Christie suggested The Bourne Identity and a book by Michael Connelly, The Lincoln Lawyerone of his colleagues at the shop swore by it. I bought them both. Outside, I sat on a bench near L. L. Bean, eating an ice cream, and tried to order The Bourne Identity wirelessly from the Kindle Store. But nothere is no Kindle version of The Bourne Identity. What? What else was missing? Back home, I spent an hour standing in front of some fiction bookcases, checking on titles. There is no Amazon Kindle version of The Jewel in the Crown. Theres no Kindle of Jean Stafford, no Vladimir Nabokov, no Flauberts Parrot, no Remains of the Day, no Perfume by Patrick Suskind, no Bharati Mukherjee, no Margaret Drabble, no Graham Greene except a radio script, no David Leavitt, no Bobbie Ann Masons In Country, no Pynchon, no Tim OBrien, no Swimming-Pool Library, no Barbara Pym, no Saul Bellow, no Frederick Exley, no World According to Garp, no Catch-22, no Breakfast at Tiffanys, no Portnoys Complaint, no Henry and Clara, no Lorrie Moore, no Edwin Mullhouse, no Clockwork Orange.


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