This isn't a travel blog, but since I've finally buckled and bought a Kindle (actually my husband talked me into it after people kept raving about it to him at work), I thought I could combine my love of reading with a little review of my new book toy. So how is the Kindle everyone keeps asking me (including the guy sitting next to me on the plane who kept dropping his book, my husband, my friends, my kids). My answer is, it's just like reading a book, which is exactly as it should be. Actually it's a little better and a little worse than a treebook. Better, in that it's lighter than even a light paperback, and yet can still contain up to 3,500 books according to Amazon. That's a lotta books! For a heavy reader like me, running out of reading material is cause for panic, so it's kind of reassuring to have so much reading matter along for the ride, especially if it doesn't cripple you in the process. I've only got about 30 books on mine so far and I did my best to load up before I left (but it's new - give me time). So it's easy on the handbag, which means there's lots of room left for your children to stuff it full of their water bottles, their own bulky paperbacks (more on that later), and jackets. It's versatile too since it manages audios with perfect ease (I picked up an audio Cloudstreet, which I'm actually re-reading in paperback) and it works as well as an MP3 player. You can just turn it on and listen while driving or relaxing. It's easy enough to operate with one hand (I'm getting one for my mother, who has recently broken her arm, for Mother's Day), super easy to use and load up, and it will browse the internet using wi-fi or 3G if you get that version, though it's typing capability is reasonably limited - you can insert notes though, and bookmark, which makes it a pretty powerful tool for a reviewer. The screen contrast is perfect and I was able to read for several hours, even in sunlight when the sun finally came out, without any eyestrain, which is more than I can say for my netbook or laptop. Text is easily changed, which makes it good for those struggling with poor eyesight (not to mention the audio option), and there's an in-built dictionary (I haven't yet tested it with one of Martin Amis' books). All in all, as much as I like treebooks, I'm convinced that e-book readers like the Kindle will most certainly become the norm.
What's a little worse? Firstly, because it's an electronic device, you have to power it off on take-off and landing. Secondly, you can't really look over the shoulder of your fellow Kindle toting passengers and check out what they're reading (I like to spy on other people's books - and harbour a pathetic hope that one day I'll catch someone reading one of my books) though this may be a benefit for those that read clandestinely. Thirdly, I still ended up spending over $100 on treebooks at the airport because my kids had all finished the paperbacks they'd brought and needed more. That's half the cost of my Kindle, which actually makes this 'thirdly' point a 'better' rather than 'worse', since we were trying to travel lightly and I ended up carrying about 6 paperbacks in my handbag (and the water bottles, the spare jackets, the hats, etc) - that's what I get for buying a light, portable ebook reader and carrying a large handbag.
The trip? Great Ocean Road in Victoria. Near Lorne. Absolutely beautiful scenery, even in the rain. Those are a few of the Twelve Apostles above. Kindle in left hand, camera in right. Just kidding (though it's probably do-able). You've got to give the books a rest sometime and look around.