How Robert Jordan Saved My Kindle

Amazon’s Kindle is a great idea in principle.  A compact device, capable of holding thousands of electronic books, with an electronic ink display that is easy on the eyes and makes it possible to read in full sunlight (even at the beach, sipping on a Mai-Tai).  After close to a year of owning one, here are my thoughts on the device.

First, the Kindle is great for reading fiction.  It’s super handy to be able to bring only this device along with you and have access to a vast library of books.  In particular, the late Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time collection has recently been converted to Kindle format.   The series is being released one at a time on a monthly format, with the books after Jordan’s death being authored by Brandon Sanderson.  Especially for a huge series like this, with each book being a massive issue in and of itself, the Kindle is a lifesaver and makes reading the series seem like one long, epic, uninterrupted fantasy.  Well, at least if you don’t finish the previous books before the next one is released according to the schedule!   I just finished The Great Hunt for the second or third time, and it still reads wonderfully.  What I enjoy most about the Wheel of Time series is the epic scale — politics, battles, character development, and fantastic geographies and creatures all come together to tell an incredible story.  The quality of the series does begin to taper off after the fourth or fifth books, from what I hear, though I haven’t yet read that far myself.  As of yet, the series has not been completely finished by Sanderson.

What the Kindle is not great for is reading academic texts.  The process of moving an article in PDF format, for example, is quite cumbersome and involves emailing the file to a special email address and then waiting for it to be converted.  Then, tables and figures are distorted and squashed, and the text is difficult to read in its non-Kindle-native format.  Also, the speed of Kindle functions (bookmarking, annotating, etc.) is extremely slow and makes the process of cross-referencing data or looking up notes and sources pretty painful.  Until the speed of these operations can be improved, I’m using mine strictly for fiction.

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