in real book

IMG_2391As many of you know, I’m reading Infinite Jest. As many of you also know, I did not enjoy my first experience with the Kindle.

Last week, the night before I was to leave for a 3-day trip, I stood by my desk, looking from Infinite Jest to Kindle. If I was ever going to use the Kindle, this would be the time. Which sounded eerily similar to my rationale for deciding to read IJ.

With help from the  Infinite Summer website, it took less than five minutes to discover my Kindle “location,” which is the Kindle equivalent of page.

After we got to 10,000 feet and I could turn the Kindle on (yet another reason not to go anywhere without an issue of One Story), I slid the button to the right. The screen lit up at exactly the right spot, and I began to read. No problem. Infinite Jest was just as good on the Kindle as it was in real book.

Interesting, I thought. Is it because I’m older and wiser now?

IMG_2386I suspected that it was because I had actually held the real book in my hand. I had seen the cover. I had turned its pages. Now, with the Kindle, my imagination took over and filled in the gaps.

After I got back home, it took about five minutes to figure out where I was in the book. And it took about ten minutes to locate my highlighted clippings and underline them in the book.

I enjoyed not lugging the book. I would do it again.

My next experiment will be to try another book on the Kindle that I have not started in real book first. That may be a while, though, since I’m only on page 350 of Infinite Jest.

22 thoughts on “in real book

  1. I’m really glad to hear that you adjusted to your kindle – because I kind of hate mine. I’m not sure if it’s my 47 year old eyesight or my impatient nature but so far it and I haven’t hit it off. But I will persevere. And it may be that it’s really best for travel where the convenience factor is most powerful. Thanks for the encouragement!


  2. This is funny because my mom is a big traveler and a big reader, and I always think I might buy her a kindle so she can go to hawaii for a week and not have to lug 20 books in her suitcase. But then I think about how she loves to leave her books wherever she is when she finishes them so that others might enjoy them (Obviously not a writer.) And you can’t do that with a Kindle. 🙂


  3. I can definitely see how having held the book in your hands would create a kind of bridge of imagination between the two mediums. I’m super-hostile to the idea of a Kindle, but it’s one of those hostilities I expect will probably diminish with time. 🙂


  4. I’m reading IJ on the Kindle. I started reading on my iPhone, which was quite convenient while commuting, but then I decided to “lug” around the actual Kindle device instead, and I found that I liked it much more than reading on the phone (though I still use that as a backup if I’ve forgotten to charge my K and I’m out on the town when it dies). It took a little getting used to reading the K instead of a book; the thing I missed most, I think, was the ability to flip through the book to find a certain spot. “Flipping through” the Kindle is a pain. However, now that I’ve grown accustomed to the K, I really do enjoy reading on it, and I find that I’m just as able to melt into the story with it as I am with an actual book-with-paper-pages. I hope you continue giving your Kindle a chance!


  5. It must be freeing not to carry all that extra weight. If I ever travel extensively, I may invest in one.

    Or maybe like 8-tracks and DVD players, they’ll be ultra cheap in a few years.


  6. Robin, as far as eyesight, did you know you can make the font bigger on the Kindle? And even if we just use it for travel, it will be worth it. Also, a feature I keep meaning to try is to let it read to me. Have you tried that?


  7. Barb, I’ve thought about that. Not only can’t you leave your books for others when you’re traveling but you can’t lend a book you read on the Kindle-they’re kind of for your eyes only.


  8. Emily, with as much as you read, I imagine you will eventually try the Kindle. One reader who loves her Kindle reads books there first and then if she loves the book, she buys it. So she doesn’t end up with a bunch of books she’ll never read again. Do you keep all your books?

    Also, the Kindle has a great highlighting and note-taking ability, which I think you would like. I haven’t figured out yet if you can hook it to your computer to print out the notes.


  9. I do know about the font size – but make it too big and you have like 25 words on each “page.” The dimness is more of an issue for me though I have a feeling I will get there eventually.

    My daughter who has reading problems reads along on it while it reads to her – which is a blessing. The only problem is because it’s a computer generated voice, there’s no expression. Also, as an author I have to get this in, they don’t pay for audio rights. That’s pretty huge and being debated/contested right now.

    All that said though, I love the idea. And have a hunch it will get people reading and buying more books – or e-books anyway.


  10. Well, I do remember that now. Originally I was thinking I could read the Kindle without glasses, but when I got the font big enough, because there were so few words on the “page,” the reading became tedious. And I have noticed the dimness.

    Excellent point on the audio rights! I’m so glad you thought to mention that. Thanks, Robin.


  11. Yoshi, thanks for leaving a comment! I can’t imagine reading IJ on my iphone. That seems like two opposing forces coming together–the huge book and the tiny phone. How many words are on the screen at one time? And do you have to pay for another copy of the book? I guess going from iphone to Kindle would make you feel like you were “lugging” something around. Do you have a hard time finding your place when you switch?

    I agree about the “flipping through.” I wonder if we could use the search function for that, although sometimes I’m not even sure what I’m looking back for, just that I want to find a passage again.

    Do you highlight on the Kindle and do you know if you can somehow print out what you’ve highlighted? Sorry to have so many questions.

    Looking forward to hearing back from you!


  12. Interesting observations in this post and comments on real books vs. Kindle. I loved Tender Is The Night when I read it (high school?) Perhaps a classic book needs the classic format. It would be nice to have something lightweight for travel. I’d miss not being able to mark perfect sentences in the margin with a pencil.


  13. Sarah, as far as Tender is the Night, I’m glad I tried reading it as a real book with pages before I gave up on it. I ended up loving it and writing several posts about it. I hope I continue to enjoy the Kindle for travel as it is super convenient. I think I read a post of yours about always taking along extra books on a trip for fear of running out–well with the Kindle, no worries there. You can have a new book in minutes as long as you’re in cell phone range. And there’s a simple way to highlight passages that would enable you to mark those perfect sentences and then call them up again. BTW, I’m not trying to sell the KIndle, just trying to get the pros and cons out there.


  14. Actually, the iPhone and the Kindle have the same number of words per page; or, at least, the same number of locations per page, depending on the font size you choose. It does take some getting used to, but I found that I’ve been reading so much more than I was before. I was using the Stanza app on my phone and downloading all the out-of-copyright books for free, so I made it through Anna Kerenina, Lady Chatterly’s Lover, Middlemarch, etc (all those books I was supposed to have read during college…) during my NYC subway commutes.

    You don’t have to pay for another copy of the book, since Amazon keeps a record of all of your electronic purchases and will allow you to download them again to either your K or your iPhone on demand. I’ve also read that if you’re taking your Kindle overseas, I think as long as you have a US mailing address, you’ll still be able to buy books for the Kindle; you’ll just have to go to and download them to your computer and then upload them to the Kindle. An extra step, but very handy when you’re in a country with limited English-language books!

    Regarding finding one’s place, the two devices have the ability to synchronize to the furthest place read on either device — however, what with the needing to flip to end notes all the time, this function is sadly unusable for IJ! I just have to make note of what location I’m at and then go to that location on whichever device I’m switching to.


  15. Yoshi-
    Thanks so much for all those great details about reading a book on the iphone AND the Kindle. I didn’t know about the sync feature. I’m going to try the Stanza app to see what those tiny iphone “pages” look like. I also didn’t know about that extra step for overseas downloading. I figured if you had an internet connection, it would all work just the same. Amazing what you have read on your commute!


  16. I’m glad to hear someone adjusted to the Kindle. i was beginning to think it was one of those things you either got or just failed to understand. I still am apprehensive about trying it, but it’s not out of the realm of possibilities now.


  17. Kim-I was afraid I would never like the Kindle too and I really wanted to. It makes so much sense, especially for travel. If you try it, I’d be interested in knowing how you like it. Thanks for adding to the conversation!


  18. Hi Tricia-It is totally freeing not to lug all those books around. And if I run out, I can download another one. I would imagine that the price will come down–just like the iphone and everything else after it’s been out for a while. Sorry it took me so long to reply. As you may know, I’ve been having computer issues. Thanks for your comment!


  19. Posted for Andrys, who was unable to post a comment for some reason. Please let me know if anyone else is having this problem.

    I came back to see how you ultimately did with your Kindle on your vacation after we talked in June 2009 🙂

    And found this page. Glad it went better the 2nd time.

    Re highlighting and clippings, etc., you can pull up both the highlighting and notes you took for any particular book because they’re kept on a private password-protected page at Amazon for each Kindle owner. And when you choose a book to see your annotations, you have the option of seeing all of them on one scrolling-page (the offered link for that is normally at the bottom of the ‘first’ page of results for that book).

    And you can copy/paste them or print them. See
    to see more on this.

    Will catch up some more with your blog soon. Some great reading here.

    – Andrys


  20. Thanks for taking the time to email your comment, Andrys. Sorry for the problem. Thanks also for your tips about the Kindle. I look forward to checking them out.


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