Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Dear Kindle Touch: I love only you.

I didn’t want a Kindle.

Nope, I really didn’t. I’m one of those souls who enjoys the feel of a book in her hands, the smell of old books, the memories that flood the mind when you recall the first reading of an old book you pull from your shelf.

I didn’t want you, Kindle.

But with this on the horizon, I needed a solution. Mostly because my plastic surgeon laughed when I said I’d get lots of reading done post-op, because I wouldn’t be allowed to use my arms but there’d be nothing wrong with my mind, and I envisioned plowing through the backlog that is my To Read shelf.

She laughed and pooped all over my parade because, well, not using my arms meant I wouldn’t be able to hold open a paperback. And not because of some arbitrary rule—no, it was because I’d be physically unable to do it.

As in: my arms would go numb and I'd drop the book, regardless of intention.

Suffice it to say, you sir, Mr Kindle Touch, became a shiny, happy, lightweight solution.

Yes, I researched which e-reader I wanted to pick up.

Yes, I realize the Kindle is not compatible with my local library’s e-book lending formats.

No, this post is not a debate about comparing technologies.

But it is me weighing in after a year of using an e-reader.

I bought you, my Kindle Touch, and recently discovered that your model has since been discontinued. And while I love you to bits, I don’t think I’d buy another e-reader if you croaked on me.

In fact, as much as you travel everywhere with me and I’m loathe to be without you, I’d put in just as much research going forward with a new model if something were to happen to you.

Well, the thing is, the major feature that sold me on Mr Kindle Touch is the very reason why you were discontinued...

I love your text-to-speech function.

Yes. I love it when you read to me.

Even books that aren’t audiobooks. Your voice is robotic, but what it lacks in appeal it makes up for in grammatical charm (you lovingly conform to punctuation). And besides, you have a huge practical benefit: I can walk to get the kids from school, putter away at housework or gardening, and even work on refinishing furniture with my earbuds in, all while listening to your robotic yet resonant voice read me whatever book I’m working my way through.

Yes, my To Read list has received a major hit this past year. It’s glorious, and all thanks to you, my dear Kindle Touch.

And you read everything—or at least everything I’ve put on you so far. Yes, our time together has become a mental life-saver, allowing me to catch up on the chores and To Do list while still being able to absorb that book that's so desperately calling to me.

Of course, there was more appeal to you than simply your text-to-speech function...

Notoriously the inability to use my arms came in—being lightweight and only needing a tap to turn your page was a big win.

And I’ve come to the age when conclusion that my eyes become tired far quicker than my brain, and thankfully with you the days of reading blurred doubled words are gone—I can increase your font size until I can read (erm) loud and clear again.

Having multiple titles at my fingertips is a bonus, too. Gone are the days when I choose my purses based on their ability to house a novel (or two). I’ve even added a few titles for the kids so if we’re stuck somewhere they can read on Mr Kindle if they’re bored (and careful).

It’s true. I let them touch you. Hard to believe, I know.

So. Back to the discontinued thing, though. Apparently (and I’m going to admit I’ve only read a couple articles about the why, so please don’t take this as gospel), Amazon’s Kindle Touch’s text-to-speech function has been considered competition with audiobooks, and an infringement on copyright for audio rights.

So your fabulous speech function has been discontinued on the latest models.

Craptacular, yes?

And that’s the crux of this review love letter. As much as I love you, my Kindle, I think some people are still going to balk at the e-reader jump, and I have nothing to dissuade them.

After having lived (and loved) my Kindle for the last year, I’m not sure I’d latch on to another model with the same fervor if it was lacking your text-to-speech function. And I’ve built up a (ahem) hefty collection of e-book titles by this point—titles which aren’t exactly tangible copies to grab off my actual-really-truly-real-life shelf. Titles which would be lost if for some reason my current Kindle were to crap out on me and I didn’t choose to replace it with another.

Shh... I don't mean to speak ill of you. I know you'll never let me down. Even constantly using your text-to-speech function I only need charge you once a week or so, you are so reliable and good to me.

Yes, I find your text-to-speech function a mighty sexy quality, my beloved.

And I’m writing this review love letter as a testament of one reader’s experience. I’m assuming everyone knows the arguments for and against e-readers (better for the environment, increased digital piracy, loss of the physical experience of reading). If every e-reader had your text-to-speech function, I’d be at the head of the e-reader argument, waving my pro e-reader banner and rallying folks to the cause...

(Seriously. My son can read along on your screen while your voice reads a chapter book to him, following the words and learning at the same time. This can definitely be considered a literacy tool in our house, even though he’s now outgrown that need—the novelty of it kept his attention, and I was grateful he was interested in "big kid books.")

And poor Mr Lannis—not only have I become obsessed with my sexy technogadget, I’m also slowly culling our bookshelves, getting rid of anything that isn’t a favourite or signed by the author. The physical collection is slowly being depleted overall—I’ve added a couple of titles I've read on my beloved Kindle and enjoyed enough to want to own a physical copy, but for the most part our books are dwindling.

I guess the good news is he’s left with the best of the best? Heh. (I never thought I’d see the day where he thought we didn’t own enough books...::snort::)

So no worries, Mr Kindle Touch. You are going nowhere. And as long as you are steadfast in your durability and quality, I will not shun you. Whether I'll date any of your relatives should you dump me, well... that's yet to be seen.

Until our next rendezvous,

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