Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Spotting Kindles in the Wild

Last weekend we went on a little family trip to Puerto Rico. At the last minute I decided to take along my neglected company Kindle, just to give it a trial run. I charged it up and downloaded Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat, Pray, Love, thinking it might be hedonistic and fluffy enough reading for such a trip. I also discovered that you can download the complete works of Shakespeare for 99 cents, and a fairytale tome for free. So those came along too (maybe in case we ended up stranded on an island and I needed reading material for a decade or so? and the Professor [or Macgyver] would also be there and charge up the battery with coconuts and pennies?).
We also brought along my new laptop so that Cate could watch videos. A trip to the lavatory revealed that close to 75% of my fellow passengers were also passing the four-hour flight with an electronic gadget of some sort. But the only Kindle I saw was a first-gen model in the possession of a guy sitting just ahead of us in first class. (And he used it for nearly the whole flight.) Personally, I felt more like listening to my iPod and looking at the clouds.
One day at the hotel beach/pool, my husband asked: How many people here do you see reading Kindles? Practically everyone was reading something, but it was always a battered paperback thriller or a hardback borrowed from the towel kiosk. Of course, I thought. Who would risk getting sand in their Kindle or having it swiped while they were out being buffeted by the relentless waves?
One night Cate was horrified that I had not brought along any books to read to her at bedtime. Jason stepped in as the hero with the Kindle full of fairy tales. (She found Hansel and Gretel somewhat upsetting, as did I.)
Going through security on the way back home, the TSA agent in San Juan was quite taken with the Kindle, noting how handy it was. The implication was that she didn't see many of them in a day's time. Switching planes at the purgatory that is gate E35-A-F at Miami International, I saw a guy reading a Kindle DX. Now that was exciting!
Our last flight of the trip was again consumed with DVDs and iPods (as well as leftover Halloween candy I had taken along to appease our young traveling companion). So the Kindle got only brief usage. Maybe if I were on a business trip and had a different mindset, I might have used it more.


Anonymous said...

When I talk with people about Kindles or hear people talking about them, the discussion is usually about preferences of reading on a screen vs. a printed page, and the convenience of e-readers vs. the love of how printed books feel and smell. But you bring up a great point here - who would risk getting sand in their Kindle or getting it stolen? When I go on a beach vacation, all I want to do is read, but there is no way I would bring along a $200-500 device that I could so easily break, drop in the water, or lose.

Lori Cates Hand said...

Yes! This hadn't really crossed my mind until I was there on the beach surrounded by sand and water.