My Kindle story

Phew ! I’ve done it. Finally.

After 3 years of tip-toeing around the idea, researching about it, bugging friends and acquaintances on their opinion of it, reading a considerable amount of reviews on its pros and cons, flip-flopping over actually taking the plunge, I did it.

I went and bought myself a Kindle, and I can’t tell you how relieved I feel right now. I know that “relieved” is a rather odd choice of an adjective here, but if you were to know me well, you would be relieved too. Relieved that I finally bought one ! The thing is while I am a confident shopper of books, paintings, artifacts, clothes, shoes, vegetables, fruits, other groceries, etc. (and strictly in this order), it is a completely different story when I have to shop for electronic items. I turn into this palpitating, blubbering, confused and an extremely diffident person when confronted with an imminent purchase of an electronic item. It’s not like I’m technologically challenged or suffer from technophobia, but when I am spoiled for choice with regard to electronic stuff, I go a little crazy. OK, a lot crazy with confusion. That’s what happened with the Kindle.

My Kindle story begins some 3 years back, when I saw one in a crowded Tube at London. The Kindle’s owner was completely oblivious to the crush of the crowd around her and was fully absorbed in reading from her Kindle. Even today, after so many years, I cannot forget that look of concentration on her face or my first sight of a Kindle. Or the fact that she had a stack of books balanced on her lap as well.

Till that time I was quite against a Kindle, and that too without having seen one or used one. I could never imagine how a machine could replace the real thing. But the Kindle sighting, even if it was from a few feet away that day, was enough to help me decide that a Kindle and books could co-exist side-by-side. And thereby began my quest for a Kindle of my own.

A little bit of an Internet search on the Kindle was enough to confuse me, and it didn’t help that none of my friends had a Kindle. By the time I finally decided to buy one, a few months had passed and I was back in India, only to find that it was not available here. Of course, I could have ordered it from Amazon to be delivered in India, but after reading horror stories of Kindles never reaching or of damaged Kindles reaching their owners, I gave up the idea. The only way I could get a Kindle was to have a friend or a relative get one from the US or UK or Malaysia or Singapore or Dubai or…

About a year-and-a-half back, a friend’s husband offered to get it for me from Malaysia, and I happily agreed. Then he got to know that I blog and recommended that I buy an iPad instead. Needless to say, I got into another whirlpool of confusion and decided to wait and think this one out. I bugged friends about this choice, who obliged me by having discussions with me, and sending me print and video reviews as well. After a few months of agony, I decided on a Kindle over an iPad.

Then sometime in May this year, the Kindle project got a boost with a friend announcing that his aunt was coming down from the US and did I want one? Did I? Of course I did. And persuaded him to get one for himself as well. But luck was not with me and that plan fizzled out as well. Then last month, the same friend sent me a mail about the Kindle launch in India. And my Kindle quest got revived again.

Last Saturday, I met my blogger pal Richa for brunch and during the course of our conversation the topic of Kindle came up. And then Richa brings out her Kindle and I am hooked. I decided then and there that I had enough of the dithering and researching and checking and asking around and would go and buy one that very day. Richa, bless her, even offered to drive me to the nearest Croma outlet (the only store that the Kindle retails from) and help me buy one. But since I had to go in to work for a short while after our meal, I had to turn down her offer.

Later that evening, I wished I had taken up her offer. The salespeople at Croma were just not able to answer my questions, and I was getting quite confused again. For example:

Me: Does this come with a manual?

They: It should come with one.

Me: It’s a simple yes or no answer, really. Does it or does it not?

They: We’ll check and let you know.

Checking meant that they called up someone somewhere to get the answers to my queries. A few more questions and vague answers later, I was quite ready to run out of the store without purchasing the Kindle. But when one of the salespeople admitted, rather sheepishly, that the Kindle was a new product and their training was still in progress, I felt sorry for them. And impulsively said, “I’ll take it.” And before I could change my mind, I walked to the cash counter paid for it and walked out.

My Kindle, after it was unwrapped from its very attractive packaging. (Photo:Neena Barnes)

And that is how I came to own a Kindle a little more than 3 years after the quest began. Since the WiFi at home was rather iffy that day, I took the Kindle to work, where it got “peer reviewed” by my department colleagues, photographed for this post, and registered on Amazon and readied for the books to be downloaded.

Over the last week, I have been busy downloading all the free books—literary classics, Sherlock Holmes, Shakespeare, books on art and history, tales from mythology from around the world. I haven’t really started reading on the Kindle yet, but I know that it is only a matter of time before I do so, particularly when I am commuting to work and back, or when I am travelling. In fact, I think I’ll start tomorrow itself; it would be a perfect way to beat Monday morning blues. :-)

Do you also have a Kindle story to share? I’d love to hear all about it.

PS: The Kindle did not come with a printed manual, but had a pre-loaded manual. It is very simple to use and I feel quite silly now for even asking that question at Croma that day !

 

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80 thoughts on “My Kindle story

  1. :D
    welcome to Kindle-town… I know how utterly confusing and time consuming search for a Kindle can be… just ask me… I’ve spent soooooooooooo long thinking about buying and then justifying buying one and then loosing my train of thoughts half-way through research and then justifying not buying it…that everyone including my onsite team in US had gone completely nuts (coz I keep telling them that I;m ordering and they have to bring to Mumbai on their next flight)…

    FINALLY, last year for my b’day I decided I will buy one and I DID… and I can’t tell you how “relieved” I was… :D

    Trust me, its the BEST investment an avid reader can make… its ABSOLUTELY wonderful…
    so, I guess all I can say now is… WELCOME TO KINDLE-TOWN

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    • Finally, someone who not only speaks my language but also understands what I went through. Thank you Shraddha for your comment and for the lovely welcome to Kindle town. The party’s just got interesting, hasn’t it?

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      • Ok, now that I have a bit of more to time to type, here goes my rants about my Kindle… and this is for all those who have been saying iPad is better and awesome and fabulous…and also for those who say Kindle is not their cup of tea…

        As someone who has tried absolutely every gadget there is for media and entertainment (I get irritated when reading is labeled under this category, but that’s a topic for another rant)… here is a list for pros and cons:

        1. No kindle will NOT replace a real book. There is NOTHING that can and will replace a real book… but paper books have one very obvious downside… the environmental effects… Kindle wont have that nagging paper from trees feelings to it.

        2. If you are even a fraction of scatterbrain that I am, you will find media devices like iPad to be distracting. You will switch it for reading but will end up surfing, playing, listening to songs or watching movies or something that will take you away from reading… :(

        3. The back-light and eye-ache (is that even a word?) Kindle does not have back-light, so you will have to read only as you would read a normal book… i.e. with external light… so, no strain to eyes due to reading in dark on an electronic screen… no sleepless nights (coz I get shouted at if i keep the bedroom light on for longer time)

        4. Kindle is literally feather light. You don’t FEEL like you are holding a device at all, so you can practically sit in ANY position…straight on a chair, in a train, lounging on a bean-bag, lying down on a beach towel, propped against a pillow on your bed….and your shoulder will not feel the strain of holding a big book (trust me… I only know HOW i finished my copy of LOTR)

        5. Novelty value… now, call me vain… but I like it when people around me look at me with wonder in their faces wanting to know what I’m holding in my hands while I travel by public transport… and reading on a Kindle is SURE to raise curiosity… :D

        6. The one major con that I’ve felt with Kindle is the unavailability of regional and Indian authors till now. But now that Kindle is launched in India…this will get better.

        7. Another of the biggest selling point for me was the ability to load .pdf and .epub books on Kindle. I have a HUGE HUGE HUGE collection of books in these formats and did not have any proper way of reading them on electronic formats….now I do.

        It WILL change your world, and you WILL love your Kindle soon enough. And to tell you a secret… I haven’t bought a paperback in past 6 months and I haven’t stopped reading… ;)

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        • 1. I’m with you on that one.
          2. I know what you mean. these days when I sit down to write a post, I’m always checking out other blogs, or surfing or youtubing ot facebooking.
          3. Eye-ache exists in my dictionary. :-) And since I read real books at home and not the Kindle, this problem has not come up yet.
          4. I like the fact that it is light and I can tell you that my back is very happy.
          5. Today, I had the guy sitting next to me reading the Kindle along with me. I was reading the Railway Children; I wish I was reading 50 shades of Grey. Would have loved to see his reaction :-D
          6. Hmmm… I only have a wait and watch policy where Indian authors are concerned, Kindle version or real books.
          7. I haven’t tried this yet and am going to try out this option as well.

          As for whether the Kindle will be a life-changing device, I’m going to wait and watch. Particularly since my mother has hinted that she wouldn’t mind one herself !

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  2. Glad that some whom I can ask for a review has got a Kindle. Buying a Kindle has been on my to-do list for a long time, just other priorities are putting it back. I’m not yet sure if I can read much on an electronic device, but certainly it would better than reading PDFs or EPUBs on desktop as I do now.

    And I too am reading the free downloads, literally Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Shakespeare, etc. etc. on my desktop ebook reader now; hope to upgrade some day to a Kindle. Keep posted of a feedback!

    P.S. Your list in strict order is funny :-)

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    • I can’t say that I am totally in love with my Kindle, but give me time I think I will. The Kindle is amazingly easy to use and downloading books has been a hassle-free experience so far. I’ve just about started reading on the Kindle and am enjoying :-)

      My list in strict order is not only funny, its true. I hate shopping and you do not know how much I avoid the ‘activity’. :-P

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  3. I have been hearing noises about kindle for several years now. Although I am not a Luddite, I cannot get over the idea of dematerialising my books; I still love to hold them in my hand and see them gracing the bookshelf. However, ebooks make great economic sense when you consider the availability of relatively cheaper versions. Then there are the simplified logistics too. But just as you said, I remain torn between the iPad and the Kindle since I am a voracious reader of photographic books too where the former has a clear advantage.

    Congratulations on your new acquisition.

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    • iPad is way better than any other device that I know of. It gives you everything, much more than ebooks, and has an amazing interface. I even bought one for my dad, and he loves it :). Between everything else and iPad, it is iPad!

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      • I vote for you. Rachna…I love my ipad, for reading, it is the best. I have it inside my blanket while putting my little one to sleep, next to me as soon as I wake up, in the rr, you name it, I take it everywhere…;) but I HATE the itunes software. that’s why, I hadn’t been able to update my software for so many months now..:( Want to try the kindle too..:P But would get a knock from hubby dear..hehe

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    • Thanks, Umashankar. The Kindle has one very obvious advantage — its slim and light and extremely portable. And since it can hold a lot of books, it makes for a perfect travel/commuting companion. But it can never replace my real books, some of which have been there with me since my childhood. As I see it, the Kindle is just another way of enjoying a book. But yes, for a your books on Photography, it has to be an iPad or a Kindle Fire. :-)

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  4. I don’t know if I am that open to the idea of Kindly unless someone gifts me ;-) because I like hardbounds and paperbacks too much to let go. May be my point of view may also change after seeing one around me.. Congratulations :)

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  5. Yeyyy! I am so glad you are loving the Kindle. Trust me, it is a life-changing device for book lovers and you will devour books as never before! My mum even finds holding a real book a pain now that she too has a Kindle of her own. You know how I can go on and on gushing about this device. :). Real happy that you took the step :).

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    • Richa, thank you so much. If it were not for you and your Kindle that day at Le Cafe, I think my Kindle Project would have gone on for some more time :-D

      As for Kindle being life-changing, I don’t know about that yet. :-)

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  6. Sudha, I’ve always watched all these kindles and Ipaddy things from a distance thinking that they are not really my scene. My only effort to use an IPad last Sunday ended in a complete disaster with me descending into deep technological dumps. I still enjoy my old doudy desktop .

    But your post gives me hope. Maybe one day I will enjoy using a Kindle and/or an Ipad. Though there are considerations of Kindle toughness to worry about , I guess. Reading a book and falling asleep, with the booking falling on the floor, is going to be dicey with the Kindle.

    Loved your post !

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    • Thanks, Suranga.

      I know what you mean when you say that Kindles or iPads are not really your scene. I thought so too, but the Kindle has been really easy to use. Far more than I thought. Yes, I don’t think a Kindle would be really happy falling on the floor, but it is really handy when you are travelling. My office bag is lighter as the 4.5 books that I always have has been replaced by a slim Kindle. My back is happy too, I can tell you that. :-) But at home and for my bedtime reading or breakfast reading or anytime reading, it’s a real book for me.

      Do consider trying out the Kindle at some point. It’s worth it. You can even borrow mine :-)

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  7. its so interesting how resistant we are to change. But after reading this, I might take the plunge of reading from my father’s kindle. But in a related story, I have started listening to audio books during my travel to and from work or when I go for my run. I always thought i was not a very aural person…i don’t have much attention span when I am ‘hearing’. but I am slowly adapting to this new way of ‘reading’. I still don’t think i can ‘read’ very heavy stuff through audiobooks. but lighter and more fun stuff i can make a habit of ‘reading’ through the ear!

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    • Change. That wonderful word that we love and hate in equal measure. Love it if we initiate it and hate it if some else does. :-)

      I was resistant to the Kindle and had quite a few arguments with quite a few people until I realised that I was looking at it from a perspective of a Kindle replacing a real book. It doesn’t actually and the two can co-exist side by side and one actually has the best of both worlds. I have started using the Kindle while commuting and continue to read the real book at home. I might do the reverse as well, depending on how I feel at that moment. the Kindle will be really useful when I travel as it will bring down my luggage by half. Do try the Kindle, it’s not all that bad.

      I started listening to audio books while in London (somehow I’ve gotten out of the habit after returning to India). BBC’s Radio four used to air audio productions of plays and books and I would listen to it as I did my dissertation, wrote mails, or generally just relaxed in my room. I really enjoyed it. My favourite was Hamlet—the sound effects were fantastic.

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  8. Reading your post and actually having had the opportunity to handle your kindle, has motivated me to download the kindle app on my ipad. Although, I am very old fashioned when it comes to good old books, I know, now, that the kindle app is extremely practical. You can continue reading a book just about anywhere.

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    • Thanks Neena, and also the photograph of my Kindle on this post. Just download the Kindle app on your iPad and start reading. Knowing the kind of schedule and workload that you have, this is the only way you will be able to read. :-)

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  9. I have a Nook by Amazon; it is an e-book reader. But, of course since iPad came into the house, there is nothing more spectacular :). Despite all these, I only read ebooks while traveling. All other times, I love to hold the book in my hands and feel the pages. Since my book case was bulging, I said bye bye to flipkart and joined justbooksclc.com, a most amazing library. I have never looked back since then and am no longer buying books or magazines :). This is my, not a Kindle story :). I wish you luck, and I am sure you will have loads of fun with it!

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    • Thanks, Rachna for your “not a Kindle” story and for the link to Just Books. That one sounds really interesting and I see that they operate in Mumbai as well. Will check out that option as well.

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  10. I can still hear the excitement in your voice when you announced your purchase last week :) I almost got one last year but at the last moment told my kids not to buy it. I am not such a voracious reader anymore and I feel it would be a waste. But if there is an audio playback thingy in that, it might become attractive. I guess I will wait a while for that to be integrated in the product and then buy it.

    BTW, what was the logic behind buying the Kindle when the salespeople couldn’t reply your questions. Or had you done enough research and were testing their knowledge? :D

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    • My Kindle is a simple, basic one, while Richa’s has a text to voice option and it works pretty well too. Will check and let you know. BTW, I have no problems doing research for others, it is only when it is for me that I get all befuddled.

      There is really no logic to buying when the salespersons could not answer even a single question without checking and rechecking. It’s just that if I hadn’t bought it that day, I would still be agonising and wringing my hands over the purchase. I had become quite heartily sick of my indecision by then. So, on that day it was a case of now or never :-)

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    • Nope, there is nothing wrong with you Bikram. You may not want to use a Kindle or an iPad and I refuse to use a smartphone :-)

      It takes all kinds of people to make this world go round.

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  11. Congrats… I’ve been reading off and on on my iPad and although I like it and it’s easy when traveling I’ve slowly gone back to reading actual books. Although the free books available on iPad or Kindle as you said are a big plus. Also when buying physical books I can later put them up on my eBay store or give them in competitions so that’s a plus point for that. Cheers!

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    • Thanks, Raghav. So far the seamless downloading has been a real thrill. And what little reading I have done, I have enjoyed it so far. I read on the Kindle for about 2 hours daily now, and 2 hours of reading a real book. Let’s see how this progresses.

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  12. I’ve been toying with the idea of buying a tablet, for both reading , and also to keep my photographic references (for painting) portable. Every time I actually get serious about buying something, I keep thinking I have something that works for me already (real books,a laptop) so do I really need another gadget!

    Initiating a change and taking decisions are not things I handle very well , which is why I found both your post and the comments on it , very interesting :D

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    • Knowing the kind of work that you do, a tablet would be perfect for you. Change is never easy, but sometimes it needs to be done. Glad you found the post and the discussion intersting, and I hope useful as well. :-)

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  13. I guess I’m one of the weird few. I have the Kindle and I don’t use it, ever. In my defense, most books on the Kindle are 3 times their paperback price. I’d much rather go to the library or buy a used book (we have a bookstore that specializes in used books).

    The Kindle is sitting in my office room gathering dust :(

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    • If I had known there was a Kindle gathering dust, I would have asked you for it instead of getting one here :-P

      I use a library, I buy books, and now I also have the Kindle. I have not yet made any purchases on the Kindle, so I’m not clued in on the price variations yet. Thanks for the heads up.

      PS: Is there an iPad also gathering dust with you? ;-)

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    • Yes, Pattu. And the best part is there is no strain to the eyes and the font size can be adjusted. My commute to work and back has become something to look forward to as that is when I read on the Kindle. :-)

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  14. I have no order of expertise in shopping Sudha – I just cannot shop at all, except for books in second-hand bookshops :) :) I am waiting for either someone to gift me or (well, who can stop me daydreaming:) ) win in a contest – an ipad or kindle :) Whichever it is will be my choice of device :)

    Going by the history till date, it will be neither and I shall keep plugging away at my paperbacks :)

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  15. Amazon should actually employ me considering the marketing that I have done for Kindle in the past couple of years. I am an avid reader, love absolutely love my Kindle, not that it can replace physical books – but then why should it? Both can exist side by side. I still switch heartily between paperbacks and Kindle versions. But having used three different versions of Kindle (The Keyboard version for myself, the touch screen 3G version for my SIL and the 5 way controller one just like yours for my Mom) – set up all three, loaded all three with books, read a couple on each, and I can honestly say its the best investment for a reader. My own Kindle was a gift from my husband on our anniversary and I’ll admit its the most thoughtful and the best gift ever! You’ll fall in love with it. I wasn’t always like this. I was the first one to stand up against the e-reader saying how can it replace the feel of a book, the feeling of owning a book collection and all those questions readers would have. It took me a long long time to get used to the idea that maybe both could co-exist and then once I got the Kindle, I was hooked and going all ga-ga about it to anyone who would care to listen.

    As far as the iPad goes, we have one of that and I do have the Kindle application on the iPad as well so I can access my books from both places. But if you are interested in reading books, then you got to go for the Kindle. Reading books on the iPad is simply reading it on the computer. Back lit screens and what not. Kindle on the other hand having that e-ink technology puts no strain on your eye. None of the versions I used have a lamp, but then that makes it same as a physical book. Have a desk light if you want by the bedside table! If you want much more than a reader, if you want to surf, watch videos, play games, then the iPad is for you.

    The only time I hate having the Kindle compared to a physical book is during the take off and landing, you’re reading this fast paced thriller, you’re at that climax when you can’t wait to know what happens next and then the airhostess would tell you to turn it off and you cant help but roll your eyes and make faces at her. But for every other time, it rocks!

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    • Oh and talking from experience here, I recommend that you browse books through amazon.com’s Kindle collection on your computer rather than through your Kindle. Its more convenient. Kindle’s internet browser is still experimental and even otherwise browsing the marketplace through Kindle is a little cumbersome compared to browsing online on the computer. The Kindle e-books also have the same kind of back cover description like physical books, but looking it up online and having it delivered wirelessly to your Kindle is way easier! I have found quite a few good authors through the Amazon’s top free 100 bestsellers which they publish every day. Sometimes when authors release e-books (known good authors) they put it out on Amazon for free for 2 weeks and then up the price. If you’re lucky you get it for free too. Once bought, you can download anytime!

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      • It’s Amazon’s loss if they do not employ you. But can I appoint you as my Kindle consultant? :-D

        Thanks so much for the tips about the free books and the deals. I’m going to keep a lookout for these deals now. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

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    • Welcome here, Hari. I’m delighted to have you here ad thank you so much for your comments. Yes, there is quite a buzz here over my Kindle story. And a rather unexpected one it was :-) I see a lot of joy and fun in the small, mundane and everyday things and I guess that got translated here :-)

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  16. My husband surprised me with one on my last birthday. I was thrilled. I too downloaded free books – you get really good ones on Gutenberg. It has three definite advantages over books for me. The font size can be changed; however fat a book, the kindle remains unchangingly slim and therefore easier to hold; it definitely is kinder to the environment than books as long as we don’t discard it for newer gadgets in future. But there is something about books – the smell, the touch, the cover – that is magic.

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    • Welcome here, Kaye and thank you so much for stopping by and commenting. I have not yet started downloading e-books. Am waiting for a colleague of mine to do it—he has a huge collection of e-books.

      Kindle and books should never be compared as each have their own place, space, advantages and disadvantages. And in my opinion, they cannot replace each other.

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  17. Sudhagee, I thought I subscribed to your blog long time back when I read the post on names..:( I never got any posts from you..so subscribed again now..oh loved your story..b cos I could relate almost exactly to it. However, I didn’t buy a kindle. Hubby got me an ipad as a bday gift and had to go with it. I love it though. Every stage of your kindle story, could be mine too..:) If I write one, it would be almost same. When I first saw it in people’s hand on the light rails and bus stops, I would come home and say, there is something in everyone’s hand, I want to know what it is. Looks like people read in it. I was so curious to touch it literally..haha.. I didn’t know it was kindle. :P

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    • Thanks for sharing your Kindle story, Latha and for subscribing to my blog as well.

      That’s the thing about gadgets, the fascination when you see it with other people, the covert glances, the wanting to see and touch and handle, and then the confusion that sets in after a while :-P Yep, I’ve done it all and looks like you have too.

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  18. Congratulations Sudhagee! I am glad you are loving your new toy :) I am not much into gadgets and prefer things the old fashioned way, somehow the thought of kindle never attracted me more than turning each page of the book manually. May be when I get to touch and see the device in real someday, I will change my mind. :)

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    • Till the time I actually saw one, I was like you and till I got one and handles it, I was skeptical. But now that I have a Kindle and have started reading on it, it’s a pleasure. As I have said earlier, it is not fair to compare books and the Kindle. A Kindle and an iPad or a tablet, yes. But not books and the Kindle. You’re most welcome to try out my Kindle :-)

      Thank you for your wishes.

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  19. Read your Post on the Kindle, Sudhajee and was both puzzled and amused. I am an absolute dud at the use and meaning of all the new technology floating around and trying to make sense of it at my age. It just gives me great pleasure to receive mails, interesting stories of personal experiences, and photos from my friends. Anyway all the best with your Kindle! Ashraf

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    • Ashraf, thank you so much for your kind words. Think of the Kindle like another book, and one where you can adjust the size of the font to suit your eyes. And you know what, I’d love to come over and show it to you :-)

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  20. Interesting read. I had been desiring this product from 2-3 years before Kindle came to market. Finally after a lot of thought I bought a micromax fun tab. And really excited about the loads of free books available.

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    • Welcome here, TF and thank you so much for stopping by and commenting.

      My reading on the Kindle has got off to a slow, but sure start. I am more into downloading or rather hoarding books on the Kindle now. A colleague has a huge collection of e-books and I’m downloading them to the Kindle set by set. I haven’t heard of the Micromax fun tab. How is it and what has been your experience with it so far? I would love to hera about it.

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