The eBook reader and neoprene case arrive today. I peeled off the clear scratch protection dust sheets from front and back and charged up the batteries. Later I powered on the kindle to see the dozen or so books that I selected from the kindlestore free section, along with the sample chapter I chose to download, as well. I fumbled with the wireless connection and browser to see that my part of the world can find a 3G connection signal all right. When I took it to my usual hotspot for the wi-fi connection, I ran into human error: on the weekend it was turned off for maintenance. So I'll have to wait on that. I tried out the "convert file attachment" service by sending 2 JPGs as a single attachment (ZIP file) to my @free.kindle.com email account. They came back in separate deliveries in the AZW wrapper. I sent another test file in the TXT format and did not add the subject line command, CONVERT, but it came back "as is" (*.txt) and is readable, as advertised. The same file sent using the CONVERT command duly was delivered in its AZW wrapper and identical functionality.
What next? Well during the past few months I've been trying to learn all the useful instruction from the user guides and the topics covered at http://kindleworld.blogspot.com and more recently the weekly digest at http://thekindlechronicles.com. Specific tips and features of practical use to my working habits I have gathered at http://big1file.googlepages.com/kindlelore and at http://big1file.googlepages.com/kindleuse so the next steps are to try out some of the ideas and to test some of the tools listed there.
What about just turning the thing on and consuming text? Clearly that is the main purpose of the thing. I started into 3 or 4 books last night. Compared to physical books, having one's bookshelf in list form at the press of the HOME button makes it easy to jump from one to another; kind of like channel surfing, but less fragmentive an experience than web-browsing over the URL-ridden lines of text and images. So whereas I would tend to read one or two sources at a time before, I can see myself actively reading several books in parallel (amplified intertextuality and cross-pollinating of ideas?) and thanks to the quasi-screen reading phenomenon of skimming and scanning rather than the ink-on-paper experience of digesting more slowly, I can imagine perusing long form writing more quickly than before. I say quasi because PC reading is truly the skimming/scanning mode, according to researchers who track eye movements on pages. But on the e-Ink screen the high resolution allows a little more savoring of font and contrasting background surface, but not the same texture of fibrous paper. Finally, the ease of saving highlights and inserting brief notes means that I expect to share excerpts and reading responses with others I know. I do this with paper books and my penciled margin notes, but there has been a higher cost in time and determined focus needed to manually retype and email (or xerox, or JPG camera shots of) the segments.
Social reading -not the book club method, but the "popular highlighting" tool of kindle- will be interesting to watch as it develops. Certainly eBook editions of a book should include an "inbox" to the publisher or agent, or maybe directly to the author so that a reader can readily communicate during or after they engage in the text.
Complaints from scholars and text-based researchers: the annotation ability is hard without an external keyboard (my work-around is to try poking out notes in stem or seed form, then open the kindle "myclippings.txt" location to flesh out the short strings); also there are no fixed page numbers since the number of screen turns varies with font size, line spacing selected and so on (chapters and subheads may be a work-around; or the passage can be hunted in the paper volume and be given a listing that way, too).
Muscle memory: After my hour or two dipping into several of the eBooks on the kindle I can move about the content with almost no effort or error. BACK button works like a web browser to go back one step (but how many steps can it really go?), while the Page-next, Page-previous are strictly linear steps in the current text or website. HOME is the bookshelf listing. And MENU is the set of tools available for any given screen. But to incorporate the various keystroke shortcuts (zoom in/out, bookmark a spot, jump to a URL) will take more practice. A video would be useful to show a newcomer discovering these handy habits!
This week's to do list:
-Replace the cool set of screensavers with my own image
-Group my titles into the "collections" folders to tidy up the long list of eBooks
-Reread the font settings that blogger Andrys Basten found best (kindleworld.blogspot.com)
-Set up a few wifi hotspots I use periodically
-Introduce my family with some basic functions so they can try it out
-Try the screencapture maneuver to grab what I see on the screen while browsing or reading
-Check the user guide for usable memory. Mine shows a little over 3 gb with a dozen or two books. But I thought it started with 4 gb; or maybe that is before software is added?
Still wondering about:
-How much time can I give to feed my reading habit (kindle streamlines the cycle of discovering content, obtaining it, consuming it interactively, and incorporating/using the gems one gathers)?
-When will the software automatically update from 3.02 (today) to 3.03 now being released?
-How long will the "new toy" infatuation phase end and my working habit with kindle emerge?
-What's a streamlined way to handle groups of JPG files: dump to PowerPoint "new album" and convert with MobiPocket Creator into *.mobi, or send as ZIP bundle to Kindle CONVERT? Or as album of images "printed" to PDF (which kindle natively handles)? Or as batch of images inserted to MS Word (which kindle-convert service makes into AZW)?