Kindle. Since then, I've been holed up in the house, speaking to almost no one and reading so greedily you'd think that I hadn't had access to books in months!
I will forever be devoted to the printed page, but this device has changed everything about the way I read. For children's books, I'll certainly still be buying hard copies, and I'll never stop haunting secondhand bookshops...but for newer books and YA books where the tactile and visual pleasure isn't nearly as important, the Kindle is the absolute perfect reading experience. A few of the things I love best about it are:
Trim Ergonomic Design
You never quite realize how heavy and cumbersome books are until you start reading on a Kindle. The tablet is amazingly thin and lightweight, and it holds up to 3500 books. I also like that it's not backlit, because it doesn't strain your eyes when you're reading for long periods of time. The e-ink technology really does make it seem as if you're reading a printed page, so it's much easier on the eyes. (Plus the size and shape make me think of Captain Picard sitting behind his desk with his silver tablet...but that's neither here nor there.) I also really appreciate that they've designed this in such a way that it doesn't feel like an electronic device, in that the fonts are friendly and the screen savers feature lovely scientific illustrations or author portraits. The wizards at Amazon did a great job of creating a really pleasurable reading experience.
Free Book Samples
I never read a book without skimming the first few pages, so having the ability to sample chapters and to order books so quickly and easily is astounding. I read 13 books in the first 5 days and sampled so many more...the whole process of researching, acquiring, and reading that many books would normally have taken weeks, if not months. And now I have new authors I love!
The Kindle is incredibly fast and responsive. Unlike every other electronic device I've ever used, including computers, Blackberries, iPods, fax and copy machines, etc, this device responds so quickly, you don't even have time to process your next thought before what you want is already there. This applies to page turns, turning it on and off, and even charging it. Downloading a book on the 3G-WiFi model takes literally less than a minute, which is just mind-blowing to me.
The very few quibbles I have with it are minor. I wish sorting books were a little easier, and it's a little too easy to mis-type on the rather widely-spaced QWERTY keyboard. But they really don't affect my enjoyment of the Kindle at all. This is a wonderful, wonderful device that I really think will be in many more homes in the future.
I'm so glad my husband got me one for Christmas--it's changed a huge portion of my life, and is literally one of the best presents I've ever gotten.