A couple of weeks ago, I set off on a 12-day trip to London and St. Petersburg. Ordinarily, this would mean pretty much carrying my weight in reading material — who wants to be stuck on a plane with the wrong book? — but this trip was different. Instead of half a dozen books, I was setting out with only a Kindle. While my shoulder was happy about the lighter carry-on, I couldn’t help feeling a bit unprepared.
The verdict? I’m not sure I need to travel with books ever again. While I did end up buying a novel in the London airport (the first few pages of Little Bee got me hooked, and I couldn’t use the Kindle’s wireless feature overseas), having several books and periodicals at my fingertips was pretty much heaven. Not to mention that the device was a conversation piece — even the flight attendants were asking about it.
This experience only cemented my opinion that the Kindle is the device that will take ebooks mainstream. The novelty factor, the convenience of having a world of books at your fingertips — it reminded me of the way I felt the first time I traveled with an iPod. The Kindle isn’t perfect: it’s expensive, the joystick feels somewhat prehistoric if you’re used to devices with a touchscreen, and the wireless network can be slow. And aside from the device itself, there are issues about pricing and DRM that have yet to be worked out (at least publishers can look to the experience of the music and TV industries while working on these). Still, I can’t help but feel that ereaders are the best way to make reading relevant for a generation that’s grown up with the Internet.
Anyone else ever traveled with a Kindle or another ereader?