Thursday, June 9, 2011

ENJOYING MY KINDLE IN THE SUNSHINE OF EUGENE, OREGON

The wine caveWhile much of the U.S. is broiling under record-setting temperatures, Montana is about to be washed away in the continuing heavy rain, and Arizona is on fire, we have hit the weather jackpot in Eugene, Oregon.  Up until today, we wondered if summer was ever going to arrive!

After another round of wine-tasting in the Umpqua Valley on Tuesday, we arose early on Wednesday morning to be on the road to Eugene by 8 am – no problem when the sky is light before 6 am.  We had a short drive - under 70 miles - to be at Carrier and Sons on the north side of Eugene by 9:30 am. 

I mentioned a short time back that our living room slide was a bit out of adjustment, which we discovered when extending the slide resulted in an ugly cracking noise – the oak trim coming apart on an upper corner.  Since we were pleased with the work Carrier and Sons did for us in 2009, and since Eugene is “on our way” to wherever we are going, we decided to stop in and have them adjust the slide and repair the trim.  As before, the crew at Carrier was friendly and capable.  We ran a few errands while they worked on the slide, then picked up our home and headed to our site at Armitage County Park (click here to read our review and see photos) in early afternoon.

Sunshine on the Eugene bike trailThis morning, we awoke to SUNSHINE!  We arranged to stay in Eugene until Tuesday – and there is NO rain in the forecast.  Whoopee!  Good weather for grilling, walking along Eugene’s great system of bike paths, washing the vehicles (Odel), and reading the Kindle (me).

Speaking of the Kindle…

After being turned down for a library card during an extended stay at an RV park, Judy (Travels with Emma) wondered on her blog whether she should think about a Kindle.  Judy, here is my experience, which might be of interest to you.

I have always been a reader, though less so in the past several years.  Mostly, this is because my eyes are simply too tired at night to read as long as I used to.  Nevertheless, we carry around a lot of books, taking up space and adding weight to our rig.  An ebook reader seemed like a good idea, but I was not motivated enough to do the research and decide which one would be best for me.  Besides, what if I didn’t like reading on an e-reader? 

My sister Sydney loaned me her Kindle when we were in Sacramento, and I liked it – a LOT.  Foregoing my usual thorough research (Kindle?  Nook?  other e-readers?), I threw caution to the wind - I ordered one myself (the WiFi only version, since we have a Verizon MiFi card), and now would not be without it.  Though there are a few things I prefer about physical books, the pros outweigh the cons (by far), particularly for travelers. 

Kindle I’ll start with a few advantages books have over the Kindle:

* Photographs and illustrations are better in books.  The Kindle doesn’t display images particularly well, and they aren’t always displayed in the correct relationship to the text.   I can’t imagine buying a cookbook in electronic format… but who knows?

* Going back to find and re-read a page on a Kindle is annoyingly difficult.  Sometimes I want to check on what I thought was a clue in a mystery, or remind myself of someone’s relationship to another person… fairly simple to flip through the pages of a real book, not simple at all on the Kindle.  Also, not easy to flip back to a map or illustration (which probably won’t display very well, anyway).  I miss the sense of “context” you have with a physical book.  Reading one page of a book on a Kindle reminds me of looking at a little map on the GPS: you are viewing a small piece of a big picture, without a really easy way to find something not contiguous to your current display.

* You can pass the physical book on to another interested reader, who can do the same.  The inability to EASILY share books – with as many friends as you want to - is, to me, the biggest drawback to an e-reader.

That said, if I had to choose just one method of reading - either physical books or the Kindle - the Kindle wins, hands down.  Why?

* You can adjust the text size!  When my eyes get too tired to focus on small print, I just make it larger.   

Kindle cover* You can carry an entire library with you – portable and lightweight.  The three feet of space I usually use for books to be read or traded is now available for other “stuff” (gosh, maybe I can leave it empty).   With the cover I purchased, my Kindle is about the same size, shape and weight as a paperback printed in quality format (rather than “pocket” format) – very comfortable to hold.

* Newly published eBooks are less expensive than newly published print books, and there are hundreds and hundreds (thousands?) of book priced at “used book” prices, $5 and less.  Hundreds more are FREE, including many of the classics.  The choice of free books is far larger and FAR better than the selection you find in the “take one, leave one” library at any RV park.

* You can download and read a sample (usually the first few chapters) of a book before deciding to buy.  If you want to continue reading when you get to the end of the sample, buy the book.  Otherwise, nice to know you aren’t interested BEFORE you buy it.

*  Highly portable.  Take it along with you to the laundromat, to the doctor’s office, anywhere else you might find yourself with time on your hands (I read it in the lounge of Carrier and Sons yesterday while Odel went to the hardware store and Scoopy was in the shop).  Lightweight and easily portable… and if the book you are currently reading doesn’t lend itself to short bursts of attention, switch to another book, or read samples you have downloaded.

Kindle with light* Unlike a computer, the Kindle is not backlit.  Far easier on the eyes than reading a computer; for that matter, easier on the eyes than reading a printed book (especially since you can adjust the size of the text).  I find the contrast of the background to the text to be very kind on the eyes, particularly sitting outdoors reading in the sunshine… far less glare than a white page.

When I bought my Kindle, I also got a book-like leather cover (photo above) with a built in LED light so I can read in the dark without additional lighting (remember, no backlighting) – handy in bed or when boondocking.  The cover was costly, but I love it.  It protects the Kindle easily, and feels wonderful in my hand.

Though Kindle currently doesn’t support e-books through the public library system, they have announced that library books WILL be supported sometime this year.  Since I don’t have a library card (needed for library lending of eBooks), I don’t really care – and with a dozen yet-to-be-read books waiting on my Kindle, I don’t feel like I am missing out.

Yes, the Kindle is a great addition to our electronic toys… and now, I’m going to go sit in the sunshine and enjoy it.

32 comments:

  1. Boy you are right - I would not give up my Kindle without a fight!!! Just a tip - if you have ever had a library card somewhere, you can get them to make you a duplicate...I have two, one from a little town in PA and one in Cheyenne WY :)

    I read your blog regularly, and enjoy your adventures - we are full timers too, and are heading for the East coast - via CO, NE, WI, MI, IN...then PA.

    Keep on writin'''and readin' of course :)

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  2. Still not ready to make the switch to the ebook. But then it took me forever to give up writing checks and pay my bills on line. I'm just a week bit slow with accepting new technology. But I loved your review of the Kindle. It will be in the back of my mind when I reach the point of saying it's time.

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  3. I absolutely, 100% agree with everything you said about the Kindle. Best thing since sliced bread! Probably better :)

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  4. Craig has a Kindle and I have the Kindle Ap on my laptop. He can share books with me and visa versa.

    I recommended an e reader to Judy as well. I check out lots of books from my library to my laptop and can read them with epub software downloadable from the library. Some come as PDFs. If you can get a library card from anywhere, I think you can get books thru the Overdrive system. I think all libraries share in it, but I'm not sure.

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  5. I love my Kindle as well, for all the reasons you mentioned. I find I am reading much more again since I can up the text when my eyes get tired. I like my cover as well, same as yours, and yes, it was well worth it. good review, Laurie

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  6. You said it so well!!! Yea Kindle!!!

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  7. Mary Lou MontgomeryJune 9, 2011 at 8:30 PM

    Laurie, I was so glad to see you review the Kindle! I tell everyone I know just how wonderful it is! I don't have the full size Kindle, I have a Kindle app on my iPhone and LOVE IT! I have my book no matter where I am. I read so many books and I don't even buy paperbacks any longer. One of the cons you mentioned was not being able to find something you have read, you can bookmark items if you think it is something you want to get back to.

    Hope you enjoy your reading - check out www.pixelofink.com Lots of free and cheap books for Kindles.

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  8. I have a Kobo!..and love it and don't like it for the same reasons as you..some days there is nothing like a real book!

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  9. My e-reader is a Sony Touch, which doesn't have either wifi or 3G, but that's OK. I don't mind downloading to the computer & then to the reader. My favorite thing about it is also the adjustable text size. Sometimes my eyes just don't want to do small text.

    @Merikay....not all libraries participate in the Overdrive system. It's kind of a subscription thing. Here in NE we can buy into it through the Nebraska Library Commission. It's $1000 for the first year and $500 a year after that(unless they raise the price) so a little pricey for small libraries unless there is a lot of demand. One thing I don't like about the way the Overdrive system works here in NE is that any book I might want to read already has a list of 2-6 or more people waiting for it and I really don't want to wait 3-4 months for my turn. Maybe it works better elsewhere where they buy access to more copies of a title.

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  10. I've wondered about getting a Kindle. Thanks for doing the research. I'm still not completely sold, but it sounds good. I'm just resistant to change.

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  11. Thanks for a thorough comparison of the Kindle (and e-books in general) vs. printed books. I've been a Kindle user since the 1st generation in 2008 - a birthday gift from Don.

    We both now have the latest generation (3, I think), like yours, but mine just broke! So I have a free (under warranty) replacement being delivered, supposed to catch up with me in Anchorage, due 2 days ago...am suffering withdrawal!

    I've heard that some libraries offer non-resident access to their e-books for a fee.

    I'll point others to your blog if they're interested in an e-book.

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  12. I too love my Kindle--my daughter in law loaned it to me and then gave it to me as she doesn't read much and didn't like the Kindle. Mine is one of the older larger ones and I'm thinking I might like the smaller version??

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  13. We bought Sony e-readers a while back and have really enjoyed them. We have a Florida library card and we can download books free from the library on our Sony readers. We own property in Florida which is how we got a Florida library card. I think if your domicile is in a certain state, you should be able to get a library card for that state and you can get your ebooks online.

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  14. We have the first model of the Kindle that came out and absolutely love it. No problems in 3 years. That said, a newer wi-fi version would be great, because there are LOTS of places in the middle of the U.S. where the Kindle "whispernet" doesn't work. I subscribed to Time Magazine for 30 years and wondered how I would manage without it fulltiming -- no problem with the Kindle; I have it downloaded instantly every week (that is, when we're in range). I see us upgrading to a newer version someday, but for now ours are fine. We also have leather covers and love the feel of them.

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  15. Thanks for the thoughtful review, Laurie. Since I travel solo, I have an aircard, but no mifi. I know I don't understand the technology involved in downloading books. Doesn't it really bite into the 5 gig limit? I guess I need to talk to my S-I-L about some of this stuff. He is much more computer savvy than I.

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  16. Great review on the Kindle! Although we haven't made the leap to an e-reader yet, you make it seem like it's definitely worth the investment- especially for traveling. lovely blog by the way...enjoy the beautiful weather!

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  17. I have an older Kindle that was given to me by my son. He maintains the account for books and we both get to enjoy each others selections. It is a great invention for full timers!!!!

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  18. Judy, the download time/volume is minimal. A book takes a minute or less. You can buy a Kindle with built in, lifetime, i-net access (via AT&T) for another $35 or so, I think... but since AT&T usually works less well for travelers than Verizon, I didn't spring for it.

    If you get the WiFi only version, you can download books using any WiFi hotspot - cafe, McDonalds, library, etc. Or, you can download them to your laptop, then transfer them (via a supplied cord) to your Kindle.

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  19. A Howeth: my sister and I share an account, too, so can both read boooks each other buys. Fun, because she buys some books I wouldn't read otherwise - and I'm sure she feels the same.

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  20. I bought the Kindle 3G as a Christmas gift to myself last December and absolutely love it. Biggest advantage to me is ability to read it outdoors and the battery last a full month -vs- the Nook that you can't easily read outside and their battery lasts 8 hours!!! Big difference. I don't need color or photos to read a book. Now there's a Kindle with Special Offers (ads) and the WiFi model is only $114...that's a good buy IMHO.

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  21. We're loving the weather in Oregon, too! We're in Newport, heading for Seaside later in the week. The Nook from Barnes and Noble is pretty cool, too! Haven't decided which one for me, yet but Kindle is ahead so far!

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  22. Whichever reader you buy, do get a leather cover for it. I dropped and broke my first one. The leather cover makes my replacement much less slippery to hold onto.

    I thought I would miss holding and reading a "real" book so am very pleasantly surprised to discover I don't miss that part at all.

    Since I typically read several books per week when we are not in travel mode I really appreciate the easy access to downloadable books.

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  23. Bobbie, the Kindle without ads is just $35 ($139 vs $114) more... I don't know where/how the ads are presented, but I would pay the extra $35 to avoid having to deal with ADS! Though I'd go for it if that was the only way I could afford a Kindle. I agree with you about reading outdoors - SO easy to read a Kindle, even in bright sunshine.

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  24. I'm totally w/ you on the Kindle. I was always an addicted paper-back fan and thought I could never read anything on an electronic reader. Hubby bought one a year before I did...and still I resisted. FINALLY gave in to it this pas year and am so happy I did. I can read the thing anywhere, and I find the screen so easy. Also, I've been LOVING all the free book downloads.

    If you haven't discovered it, this is a nice site for free ebooks:
    http://www.gutenberg.org/wiki/Main_Page

    Nina

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  25. Sunshine in Eugene! How wonderful! Enjoy the rest of your stay. I've heard there are great grocery opportunities up that way...

    Great summary of the advantages of the Kindle over "real books." I opted for the Color Nook rather than Kindle. Reasons being:
    1. Works great for cookbooks which are critical to my happy existance.
    2. Ability to subscribe to magazines. Meets my need for frivolous quick reads... Plus more recipes...
    3. It's backlit which is great since I tend to read in bed in the evening. With the backlit screen and adjustable type size I can now do that without disturbing Johnny or crushing my reading glasses when I fall asleep.
    4. The downside is that the backlit screen is that it is difficult to read outside in the sunshine. But then, that is not where I tend to read so it was a good tradeoff for me.

    I'm just glad there are options to carry around entire libraries in our rigs without the weight or space!

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  26. Bonus: Armitage is within walking distance of Trader Joe's and Market of Choice !!! ;->


    Virtual hugs,

    Judie

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  27. Glad you're here in Eugene! The marine layer will burn off soon. I promise.

    If you're looking to pick up a few books while you're in town, the various St. Vincent De Paul stores in Eugene are fantastic. The books are downright cheap, sorted by genre, and there are thousands of them.

    Enjoy!

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  28. Nina, thanks for the link to Gutenberg.org. So far, I have explored the options for downloading from any site but Amazon. With Gutenberg, I assume you download to your computer, than to the Kindle? I check it out!

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  29. Life is just not fair!!! We left our home in Eugene to find some sunshine, and now the sun is shining in Eugene!!! It seems like it's been like that a lot this year. Every time we decide we can't stand the dreary gray days and rain any longer, we head out in the motorhome to find the sunshine....but it always seems to be somewhere other than where we are. This time, we shoulda stayed at home!!!!!

    Carrier and Sons is a great place to get your motor home serviced. They are very good at what they do and friendly folks, too. You should buy one of the Oregon chairs they have, they are great!

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  30. Thanks so much for this great review of the Kindle. Seems like I learn something I can use every time I read your blog. You are a public service! :-)

    Sherry
    www.directionofourdreams.blogspot.com

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  31. I'm so glad you are enjoying the Kindle. I have an original that I love and it goes with me everywhere. What's nice also is I have an HTC Thunderbolt phone (droid) and their is a kindle app for it. So if I'm somewhere and I don't have my kindle, I can open the app and start reading where I left off. Nice. I should say that at least 1/2 the time it remembers where I left off in the current book I was reading. Sometimes I have to search for the right page. Other than that, love love love it!

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  32. Jim and Bobbie, you must be referring to the Nook Color, as the regular Nook uses an e-ink display just like the Kindle.

    I chose the Nook over the Kindle because I didn't want/need a physical keyboard (I only used the virtual keyboard on the Nook once - when registering the device with Barnes and Noble). I actually also liked the fact that the Nook was a tiny bit heavier.

    Battery life is a bit of an issue, but it still lasts for several days of reading between recharges.

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