Getting to Know the Kindle DX

The early days of Amazon's new e-book reader, as reported by one intrepid pioneer

1.) Open box, excitedly. Notice packaging seems recycled. Excellent!2.) Insanely easy to turn on. Nice for gadget-averse folks like me.3.) Easy instructions. Up and navigating in minutes.4.) Not sure what to do with this thin screen. Seems I must buy something to read. Since I have the big-screen version, I figure I should try a newspaper. After all, this Kindle is angling to replace that plastic bag of paper that shows up on my lawn every morning.5.) Buy an issue of the Washington Post for .49 cents.6.) Try to check my email. Can't. Get antsy, then realize it's refreshing to have a small screen that does not allow email.7.) Open up newly downloaded issue of the Washington Post. Black and white screen does a little dance and then, whoosh! The lead story.8.) I look for the button that will display the front page, not just lead story, of Washington Post. No such button exists. Do not want to read the lead story, so I hit "next page" a few times. As I do, I read snatches of quotes about Obama's health care plan, and learn things I did not know before.9.) End up reading more of paper than I would have if I had read it in print, over breakfast, scanning headlines, since I cannot skip around as much. Start to imagine how Amazon will change this soon to make newspapers and magazines more glance-able on Kindle.10.) Try to check my email.11.) Go to "Sections" section of Washington Post and click on Arts. Find myself reading a story about the next season of the Real World, which will take place in D.C., in its entirety.12.) Decide to read a book. Go to and browse titles. Click on The Hemmingses of Monticello, which I really should read (which I could not say of articles about the Real World). Click again to get "read more" about title. Suddenly, receive a screen thanking me for purchasing the book. Become panicked. At bottom of the screen is a link: "If you ordered this book in error please click here." Click.13.) Try to check email. Crap! Get up and go to computer to check email. See refund has been processed.14.) Do more book browsing. Buy three more books by accident. Realize I have been clicking "BUY" when I am impatiently trying to go back to main page. Learn to wait longer for screen to do its little dance before I hit another button.15.) Wonder if I have any new email.16.) Look for academic book I need to read for research project. Am excited to be able to do so on Kindle, because I can take notes! Book is not available in Kindle format.17.) Look up magazines. Only about a dozen are available. One is the Times Literary Supplement, which I should read but sometimes forgo in favor of magazines that have stories about the Real World. Also, a subscription to the TLS is very expensive. I sign up for a free two-week trial. I read most of one issue, spending time on articles I would have skipped in the print version, since I have to click through each article to navigate the issue. Plus, it's fun to read on this screen. There are odd glitches-each story has the word count under the title-that make me instantly nostalgic for the Early Days of Kindle, back when they hadn't worked out all kinks.18.) Turn Kindle off. Whoosh! An etching of Virginia Woolf appears on screen. Wonder if I did not turn it off after all. Slide little "on/off" bar again. Turns on. Nope, I had turned it off. Turn it off again. Whoosh! Five birds sitting on a tree. Fun! Turn it on and off again. Oscar Wilde! Ten year-old son comes into room, asks what that new thingy is. Has glint in his eye. "Touch screen?" he asked. I show him my thin white tablet, all gray, white and black. Glint leaves eye. Son exits room.19.) Send a thank you note to my parents, who bought the Kindle DX for me as a birthday present, since I could never have afforded it. Wonder when the price point will go down. Wonder when the TLS will realize those word counts need to be removed. Wonder if I have any new email.20.) Go out for drinks. Tell all my friends that, five to 10 years down the line, we will all be reading on a Kindle, or something like it.
via Alan Levine / Flickr

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