After months of deliberating, I bit the bullet over the weekend and bought myself the new Kindle Voyage from Amazon. I’d been looking at it online since it was made available in the UK, even putting in my “basket” on more than one occasion. But then noticing it had basically sold out and there was a wait until mid-January.

Sad face.

I received a few Amazon vouchers as gifts over Xmas and so, in my own nerdish way, I set myself a daily reminder in ToDoist to check availability of the Kindle and lo and behold, it was there when I went to look on Sunday.

But wait. Why the need for a new Kindle? Don’t I already have a perfectly good Kindle 3G Keyboard model? Well, yes and no. It’s my favourite ever Kindle model, but is showing its age. The battery is rubbish now and every 10 or so pages, the screen goes completely black and I need to refresh and start over.

This is ever so slightly annoying.

But I can’t complain. It was a second-hand purchase from eBay and has received intensive use. Daily, pretty much. I actually downgraded from a Kindle Paperwhite, as I couldn’t get used to the touchscreen and really missed the real buttons to navigate.

In summary, I really think I got my money’s worth from that second-hand Kindle and in no way feel let down by its performance. The 3G keyboard model is a fantastic ereader.

My new Kindle Voyage arrived yesterday while I was out for a run. Since then, I’ve hd the chance to set it up (5mins out of the box) and read a few chapters of a book. A few requisite un-boxing pics below!

So far, I can say the following:

  • It’s super-light – lighter even than the Kindle Paperwhite.
  • It’s fast and responsive
  • The navigation buttons on the sides take a little getting used to
  • The screen is extremely clear and the text is like reading a paperback

My only gripe so far isn’t about the Kindle itself, but the cases that Amazon sells for it. I’m not going to throw it into a bag unprotected, but the recommended cases are both awkward and expensive. Time to look on eBay for something else.

I look forward to plenty of reading in the coming months, especially with all the travel that’s in my calendar already. If you’re a Kindle user, I can (so far) recommend the Voyage as a significant upgrade from existing models. All except the Paperwhite – unless, like me, you missed the physical buttons.

More reflections as I use it…

New Kindle Voyage announced

Very interested to read about Amazon’s new Kindle models, especially the Kindle Voyage.

I actually previously ‘downgraded’ from a Kindle Paperwhite as I missed the physical buttons and couldn’t get used to tapping the screen to turn pages.

I bought an older model Kindle 3G Keyboard on eBay and haven’t looked back!

But this new backlit version with buttons to the side of the screen could definitely tempt me back. I’ll have to see it in the flesh – it won’t be bought sight unseen – and have a play with it.

Hopefully the UK launch won’t be too far behind the US one and it will be available in time for Xmas and associated festivities.

Kindle love


6a0a99d2be35232fe0f03634011e4406Ah, Kindle love…I’m so glad I went back to a Kindle keyboard model. I’ve been tearing through books since I got it. It’s just so light and perfectly proportioned in the hand. I didn’t take to the on-screen tapping required when using the Kindle Paperwhite and much prefer physical buttons. It sounds silly, but the Kindle keyboard model is easy to read with either hand.

Picture me, if you will…

Lying nonchalantly on my chaise longue, one hand tucked behind my head. It’s how I like to read. And every so often, when the blood has stopped flowing to the hand behind my head, turning it numb and slightly alien, I swap hands and pass the Kindle over.

Turning the page by clicking one of the perfectly-placed buttons either side of the screen is a lot easier than tapping at the screen.

What’cha reading?

I’m reading several books right now, as I usually do. Call it a form of adult book-related ADHD. Made all the easier by the Kindle. No need to carry just one book around, when you have an entire library with you in a device lighter than the lightest of paperbacks.

One of these is a pre-read for a course I’m attending in a few weeks. It’s a big old psychology textbook and I need to write a review of it once I’m finished. I can very easily read with the Kindle in one hand and a pen in the other, taking notes as I go along. It’s actually easier this way than reading the paper book (I have both). Despite the impending deadline, the Handbook of Coaching Psychology is still an enjoyable read.

So I recently finished Perfiditas by Alison Morton (great fun!) and, while I could have launched straight into the third part of this Nova Roma trilogy, I had a hankering for something a little different. I checked my very long list of book recommendations and opted for The Martian  by Andy Weir.

(I think I was influenced by having just recently watched Europa Report, which is most excellent intelligent sci-fi.)

So far, I’m enjoying The Martian, despite its focus on the technicalities of chemistry and physics. I’m only 10% through it, so there’s plenty of time for it to develop.

And then?

What else is on the list? I really need to finish Thinking Fast & Slow  I read it when it first came out but decided to re-read, this time more slowly! If I’m honest, I really skim-read it the first time. It’s not exactly a light read, but an incredibly interesting take on cognitive psychology.

Then I’ll probably return to Nova Roma and read Successio, the final (I think?) part of the series. I’ve already bought it – it’s downloaded on my Kindle, just waiting for me. And partly-inspired by this modern-day take on the Roman Empire, I’ve bought Mary Beard’s Pompeii.

It’s been years since my visit to Pompeii and I feel a little guilty for spending most of it wondering how soon I could escape the unrelenting heat and head into the shade (it was about 38C at the time).

“The fear”

All this is, however, accompanied by a fear eating away at me. The fear that something will happen to my precious Kindle keyboard and it will be impossible to replace. I really, really don’t want to go back to a Paperwhite.

Maybe I’ll look for a spare before they get too scarce and keep it as a back-up.

Or maybe I’ll have to ‘upgrade’ to the other model.

Going old school

People who know me associate me with gadgets and the frequent updating thereof. This usually takes the form of moving to new and more advanced versions of each piece of tech as they are released, so I can take advantage of each new aspect of functionality. Tech launches somehow (sadly) make me feel like I can’t live without each new gizmo and small iteration of tech that it brings.

Except now.

I’ve owned Kindles for a few years now and have moved from one model to the next as the technology improved. My latest model was the Kindle Paperwhite, which included a backlight and a touchscreen instead of buttons. After a couple of week’s use, I’m afraid it began to gather dust.

Which is strange, as I love to read. Something was getting in between me and the page. Of course, as soon as I got the Paperwhite, I sold my old Kindle 3G (the one with the keyboard) on eBay.  And that, it seems, was my mistake.

I missed it. I missed how light it was, how I could move through pages using the perfectly-placed buttons on either side of the screen, how it felt in my hands and how clear the text appeared.

It took me a while to realise it, but I missed my Kindle 3G.

So I bought one. I tracked one down on eBay that wasn’t listed at a ridonculous price and snagged it last Sunday. It arrived yesterday morning and within minutes, all my Kindle purchases were downloaded and I was up and running.

I then spent a happy few hours tearing through a novel (the very fun and enjoyable Perfiditas by Alison Morton).

This is possibly my first experience of “downgrading” tech to use something I preferred. Have I hit that age? That age where tech developments confuse and annoy me? I don’t think so…yet.

For me, the Kindle 3G is their perfect model and the one I want to keep using. I’m even considering keeping a spare for when this one (inevitably) dies.

I like it that much.

So the Paperwhite will shortly be listed on eBay and I’m sure someone else will enjoy its backlit screen and smaller form factor. For me, I’ll stick with its more plastic and old school cousin – and get much more reading done in the process.

I think we all know that both the Apple WWDC announcements and whatever comes from Google later this month will encourage me to update other gadgets and tech. The Kindle is probably a blip on my technology acquisition trail.


Premature excitement?

So my heart was all aflutter at the thought of getting my grubby little mitts on on Kindle Matchbook.

Yet this morning, Amazon emailed me to let me know about the new Kindle Paperwhite (really not sure it’s worth my while upgrading) but there was a noticeable lack of mentions of Kindle Matchbook or indeed the integration with Goodreads.

I’m wondering if my hypothetical delay between release of these services in the US and then the rest of the world might be longer than anticipated. Are UK publishers making life difficult for Amazon? Surely £2 for an ebook version of an already purchased hardback is better than £0?

Are publishers being greedy? Is Amazon playing hardball a la Apple?

I hope these imagined shenanigans don’t significantly delay the launch of Matchbook outside of the UK.

Are you listening, Amazon?

Now that’s exciting!

KindlePaperwhiteYes, yes…Apple have finally confirmed they’re having a special event next Tuesday.

I could have told you that – for the past few years, they’ve managed to schedule these for when I’m out of range of the interwebs, usually on a plane. True to form, I’ll be on a flight home from Edinburgh when Tim Cook et al take to the stage and tell us all about the new iPhone(s).

No, that’s not what has me excited.

It’s the announcement from Amazon of their new Kindle. I know, I’ve just bought one. Typical.

And I don’t think I’m going to upgrade any time soon. It’s more what additional services are coming:

  • Integration with Goodreads, which I love using
  • Kindle Matchbook, where they offer you cheap or free ebook versions of books you’ve already bought in print.


It goes live in October and will have 10,000 books on day one, stretching all the way back to 1995. I have bought SO MANY books from Amazon in the last 10 years alone. Getting cheap (or free!) versions of these to enjoy all over again on my Kindle sounds like a dream come true.

So, I need to get realistic.

It will probably only launch in the US in October and come to the rest of the world later. Maybe much later. It probably won’t have all the publishers on board. And it almost certainly won’t include the academic publishers who bled me dry during my undergrad, masters and doctoral degrees.

But still. I bought the book, I should be able to get it in more than one format. It’s just like what Amazon are going for music – giving you the MP3s of the physical CDs you’ve already bought.

Such a great concept.

I never thought I’d say this, but…Hurry up October!!

Some (depressing) holiday reading…

The last few days spent in Spain have really underlined for me all the benefits of being a Kindle user. For one thing, I didn’t have to hoof over a load of different books in my luggage. For another, I’ve been able to abandon my planned reading list and download several books as I encountered them in the Kindle Store.

Any Kindle user will tell you Amazon make this far, far too easy for the keen reader.

However, this summer, my holiday reading hasn’t been exactly…up-lifting. I started the excellent “Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe“, by Anne Applebaum. It focuses on life in Eastern Europe after WWII and how very diverse nations all succumbed to the tyranny of Communism.

In a similar vein (as I like to have several books on the go at any one time), I’ve been reading “The Mammoth Book of Apocalyptic Sci-Fi“, which is a great collection of short stories all set after some form of catastrophe or other. For some, it’s post-nuclear war, for others it’s all about life after natural disasters.

It’s been really enjoyable reading various authors’ perspectives on what life would be like after the fall of civilisation. Especially as this was a complete impulse purchase (damn you, Kindle store!) and not recommended by anyone I know.

Interestingly, many of the themes echo Applebaum’s points about life in post-WWII Europe. When the chips are down, the rules don’t apply. Theft, cheating and even murder are all acceptable when society has disintegrated.

So…not your usual fluffy holiday reads, but I’ve been enjoying them all the same.

A Kindle update

Don’t worry, I’m still loving my Kindle Paperwhite. Never far from my little paws. I’ve said it before – I’ve never read so much since I’ve had a Kindle. It’s small, light and always with me. The fact that I like to read multiple books simultaneously makes an ereader ideal.

Easier than hoofing around a half dozen hardbacks in a bag wherever I go!

That and my propensity for impulse purchases of books that look interesting. With just the push of a button, I have the book (or a free sample thereof) on my Kindle. Free first chapters are the equivalent of browsing in a book shop. A fantastic idea and responsible for most of my recent book purchases from Amazon.

But my recent purchase of a Paperwhite left me with two perfectly good Kindles. Rather than have one as an emergency replacement, it’s gone to a good home with someone who really wanted a Kindle.

So I’m doing my bit to spread the gospel… Amazon should really have me on a commission.

Cough. Amazon. Cough.

Now I’m just looking forward to our break in Spain later this month so I can get a week of solid reading done. There are just too many good books waiting on my Kindle and not enough hours in the day to get them read.

Cue a mix of cyber-psychology, Eastern European history and good old-fashioned sci-fi.

Well, that’s my story.

Because they can’t see the cover art…

kindle reading on the underground

The Guardian reports how the first ebook charts reported in June are filled with smut erotic fiction.

She reigns supreme in the world of paper, with The Cuckoo’s Calling topping hardback sales and The Casual Vacancy sitting at the top of the paperback bestseller charts, but there’s no space for JK Rowling on the inaugural ebook bestseller list. Instead the top 50 UK ebook chart –compiled by the Bookseller from publishers’ reports – is filled with erotic fiction, with the latest in Sylvia Day’s raunchy Crossfire series installed at No 1.

As someone who has lived in London for over a decade, I’ve seen the amazing growth in popularity of ereaders – especially on the tube. Watching what people read on public transport used to be a favourite pastime of mine. Now, all you see is a sea of Kindles (other ereaders are available) in various leather/plastic covers.

You can’t tell what people are reading.

I used to enjoy making up backstories for the people on the tube, based on what they were reading.

Let me rephrase that.

I used to enjoy making gross assumptions about the lifestyle choices of people on the tube, based on what they were reading.

You know the kind of thing.

I’d inwardly tut and sigh when I saw grown adults reading children’s books. Smile when I saw someone engrossed in a novel I’d recently enjoyed.

Go slightly goggle-eyed when I saw someone openly reading “ladies’ erotic fiction” on the Jubilee Line.

Taking a step back, most of these people will have walked into their local bookstore to buy this. I have to wonder how many shoppers balked at the thought of taking some of the aforementioned lady-porn up to the counter and make eye-contact with the shop assistant.

Who would, no doubt, make the same assumptions I used to do. Possibly accompanied with an unsavoury smirk.

Now, ereaders give you the freedom to buy what you want, wherever you want and read whatever filth you like – leaving your fellow passengers none the wiser.

I therefore propose that this growth in the popularity of “Fifty Shade” type derivative crap is because you can buy – and read – it anonymously.

That said, I was squashed up against a lady on the Central Line last week who was reading her Kindle. She’d increased the font size to such an extent that I could easily read it.

And let me tell you this…it was filthy.

Good for her, getting a thrill on the monotonous journey to the office.

People of London – buy all the erotic fiction / nonsense mystery / ham-fisted thrillers you like on your Kindle (other ereaders are available) and read it in public.

Nobody has a clue what you’re reading.

And life’s too short to pretend you’re enjoying high-brow nonsense your colleagues are waxing lyrical about.

As for me, I’ll just have to revert to the state of someone’s shoes as a marker of social status and lifestyle choices.