In the beginning...

...there were The Flyaways, a family who traveled in their miraculous flying machine having daring adventures with Goldilocks and Cinderella. The first in the 3-book series by Alice Dale Hardy was published by Grosset and Dunlap in 1925 and copies are almost extinct. Few people remember Ma and Pa, Tommy and Susie Flyaway now.

I became acquainted with them on my grandfather's lap, my dear Grandpa Baker who read and read and read to me every evening for as many years as I can remember. I would hold my breath as each chapter ending neared, hoping he would not stop. I would keep begging for "just one more" chapter until his voice got so hoarse I would have to run to his room to get his throat lozenges.

Over the years we covered all of Uncle Wiggly and Honey Bunch, the Bobbsey Twins, the Five Little Peppers, the Wind in the Willow series, some of them more than once. He read to me until long after I could read everything for myself, until I was into Beverly Gray, Trixie Belden, Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys. I was safe and happy snuggled up on the couch with him and that feeling has never left me. I still read and read and read, and it still makes me feel safe and happy.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

My Thoughts on Kindle

I am currently loading up my Kindle with reading material to go to Florida. I can hardly imagine not having to lug an extra sack full of paperbacks on vacation. That alone is worth the price of the ereader. I probably won't have to recharge either as the battery seems to last a long time, 'tho I will try to remember to bring the charger. I only have the less expensive ($139) version, which is totally adequate as long as you are in a WiFi zone for the downloading.

I have subscribed to a free newsletter that brings me daily links to the latest free or very cheap book releases. Most of what I download is from Amazon, which is okay with with me because it is a very slick but useful and simple system.

When I first started using a Kindle, I sat in astonishment, watching as I chose a book (from Amazon)and saw it appear on the reader in the space of - oh, 30 seconds? It is truly amazing to me. One of my very first downloads was a favorite from 50 years ago - Seventeen by Booth Tarkington, which I reread immediately with such joy. I have paid the top rate (approx. 9.99 - 12.99) for only three purchases, a Jeffrey Deaver, a Michael Connolly and a Dennis Lehane, all of which were brand new and I really wanted. New releases are naturally priced up (still 1/2 the cost of hardcovers) and stay that way for a long time, altho another great bestseller, Water for Elephants, I saw recently discounted to $5. Note: jump on those free offers, as they are subject to change eventually. I downloaded a medical thriller which I see is now $2.99.

There is an abundance of free poetry from all the old standards (Whitman, Dickinson, Blake, etc); also thousands of classics - mine include The Call of the Wild, some Frederick Douglass and Mark Twain, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (another re-readable old favorite). And, a dictionary, a foreign language phrase book, and a Bible, all free. I even have tattoo books, complete with pictures (a word here - the color Nook is very nice, I have seen it, but not worth the considerable added expense as far as I am concerned. I just want the words, right?). Word games and puzzles are also frequently offered free; I have Scrabble, of course, although I don't often play as I'd rather read, but it's there if I want it.

I have discovered a number of good indie authors such as Vincent Zandri(Albany area crime writer - check him out)thru the reader's comments and recommendations, downloading only those with 4 1/2 or 5 stars. Always look to see how many reviews the rating is based on - a five star review is meaningless if three of the author's friends have sent in the comments. I balance this out with the publisher's plot description, being careful to look for buzz words such as "Christian", vampire, paranormal and "erotic", and I avoid anything that hints of silly romance. I am a die-hard true crime afficiando, with crime fiction a close second, and there is an abundance of this material readily accessible.

I now have 120 items downloaded with the one-click system (you need to set up an account on Amazon). The vast majority of these were free or 99 cents. You receive an email confirmation of your downloads and then the charges, if any, appear on your credit card.

As for the device itself, it does complicated things, setting up categories and lists, highlighting phrases, looking up words, keeping any notes you want to make. It does things I haven't even explored yet. The type size is adjustable for us old people and even without a backlight, there is no problem with seeing the screen. Inveterate bed-reader that I am, this has become a breeze, easy to hold and page turn and it goes to sleep by itself if I fall asleep first.

I have resisted buying the overly expensive protective covers, choosing instead to slide it into a flat, cloth zippered bag that I tie-dyed years ago, just to protect it from scratches in my purse and hopefully sand on the beach; I'll be testing that out soon. The artist in me desired a "skin", a thin adhesive veneer available in a multitude of colorful designs which sticks easily on the surface of the reader and makes it look attractive, if that is important to you. Mine is an exotic black and orange art deco design.

I wrote this because I have been asked so many questions about Kindles. Ereaders are taking over the publishing world and (I'm afraid) are the libraries of the future. Yes, I love the feel of a book in my hand, but, truly this is a wonderful innovation.

March 2011

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