Anyone who hangs out with me for more than 10 minutes knows I'm a hardcore Googlian. I own the Google Pixel, the Google Home, Google Wifi, and Daydream View. I cast my videos, photos, and sometimes my desktop using Google Chromecast Ultra.
I jam out to my Google Music playlists which I cast to ChromeCast Audio speakers. I use a few different brands of Chromebook including my latest addition, the Samsung Chromebook Plus. I plan on replacing my Motorola 360 Sport watch with Google's LG Watch Sport as soon as possible. And naturally, I use the full suite of Google apps including Google Books.
That's why it surprised me when I finally decided to purchase the Amazon-branded Kindle e-reader, which is about as unGoogley a product can be without being Apple. So, what possessed me?
I got tired of being distracted while trying to read books peacefully on an electronic device. I missed the days of getting so absorbed in a book I wouldn't move for hours on end. It seemed every time I "turned a page", notifications would trickle down my screen and, before I knew it, I'd be doing everything but reading my book.
The obvious solution was to return to paperbound books yet, strange as it sounds, I prefer the experience of digital reading. I love going to bed never worrying about losing my page or having to reach over to turn off the light before falling asleep. I love being able to look up new words and facts on the fly. I love being able to jam hundreds of thousands of books into my purse without the slightest inconvenience. Everything about reading digitally works for me except the distraction of not being able to digitally unplug.
My relationship with books in the digital age is a bit tormented. My love of books is immediately obvious when you step into my home. When I made my journey across the country to my new home, the U-Haul trailer I dragged behind me was chocker block full of boxes of books. I figured I could easily replace furniture and appliances but books? No way - they all made the trek with me. Even today, I can't return from a trip to the recycling center without bringing home at least one book even though I know I will end up buying it digitally if I want to read it. I'm not exaggerating. If the book is on my shelf and I want to read it, I purchase the digital version.
Conversely, if I fall in love with a digital book, I purchase the hard copy because (my children make fun of me for this) what if there isn't internet someday? My children remind me that if there isn't internet we'll likely be dealing with bigger problems so I wouldn't be doing much reading anyway. As for myself, I plan to go out reading!
Whether any of this makes sense or not, I finally decided I needed a dedicated device to do my reading. I needed a device smart enough to give me the reading experience I wanted but dumb enough to remain oblivious to Twitter lighting up over #Covfefe. Since Google doesn't make anything dumb enough, I was forced to venture into the world of Kindle.
After doing a bunch of research I finally decided to go with the Kindle Voyage and I have not been disappointed. The Kindle is so dumb that I'm sometimes baffled by its lack of features but as an eBook reader, it's marvelous. First, the lighting and font choices are easy on the eyes. I have access to all the features I love about digital reading such as highlighting, notes, word look-up, auto-bookmarking, large print, and compact design. If that was the end of it, the Kindle would have met my expectations but it was even better than I anticipated.
The battery life on my Kindle is phenomenal. It's amazing how long a battery can last when it doesn't have to be your brain on acid. I only have to charge the device about once every three weeks or so. I love it! Another feature I love is the ability to email myself all the notes and highlights I have recorded during the course of reading the book. It's amazing to read the highlights after you finish a book, all condensed into one file.
The last unexpected charm is the marriage of Amazon Kindle Books with Audible. My Kindle Voyage doesn't have audio capabilities BUT what it can do is sync to the current location in the audio version. Here's how that works.
In the Amazon Kindle Bookstore, I pay a few extra dollars to buy the audio addition of the book along with the digital version. If I start to read the book on my Kindle but then I take a road trip and want to continue reading, I can fire up the Kindle app on my phone and it will pick up in the audio book exactly where I was when I stopped reading on my Kindle. When the trip is over and I want to read in bed later in the evening, the Kindle picks right back up where the audio reading left off. It's AMAZING and I'm in love!
A few other features I haven't fully explored yet are: GoodReads built into the device and Family Library which allows you to share your library with one other adult and up to four children under the age of 17. I had to resurrect my GoodReads account which I hadn't accessed in years and am slowly configuring that feature. This is optional and you don't have to use it but I like to use as many features as I'm given since I figure someone at some point thought they might be useful. Usually, I discover they are right. The Family Library feature is exciting but also challenging when you have grown children. I haven't ventured into this realm enough yet to say much about it though I am happy it exists.
The biggest challenge I encountered during my Kindle migration was figuring out how to transfer over all my previously purchased Google Books. I didn't want to buy them all over again so I did some serious hacking and managed to suck them over but it was a miserable. terrible. awful. experience. Where there's a will there's a way but it sure does take a whole lotta will to pull off the feat.
I'm still sorry Google doesn't make a dedicated E-Reader. I know some people simply set their devices to airplane mode and read uninterrupted that way but it's not the same experience as using a dedicated E-Reader. I love having something that truly feels and acts more like a book.
If you've been struggling with wanting to read digitally and haven't tried one of the newer Kindles yet, I highly recommend taking one for a spin around the block. But reader beware, you might end up like me, owning a hard copy, a digital copy, and an audio copy of every great book you encounter. I suppose there could be worse things in the world - like the fact that the book I am currently reading, We Took to the Woods, does not come in digital format.