I only noticed recently that my Kindle has taken to providing me with information on how long it thinks I will take to finish what I’m reading.
I don’t know if it’s always done this, but I spotted some text at the bottom the other day while reading Flowers for Algernon that told me that the device was learning my reading speed. After some calculation it then informed me that I had 4 hours and forty-nine minutes of enjoyment ahead of me.
Far from enhancing my experience, it had me then doing the mental arithmetic on how many commutes the thing would last me. This was silly really, as my Kindle usual provides me with the assurance that I will never run out of anything to read while stuck on a train.
Apparently some websites have also started doing this now as well. We have seemingly now reached the point where even simple escapism and the act of losing oneself in a good read now has to come with a warning of the amount of time that may be involved. My inference from this is that many will look at anything that might take more than five minutes to read and decide that it’s really not worth the bother.
Will we now be able to sort articles not only by date and relevance, but also by the amount of time we need to invest in reading? Further, will writers now be asked to submit work by the estimated reading time rather than by the word count?
I recently upgraded my old third generation Kindle (the one with the keyboard), for a nice new Kindle Fire HD. Much as I love printed books, I have no problem with buying e-books, though I do tend to treat them in much the same way that I treat buying music: if I really like a band, I’ll probably buy the CD, but otherwise I’ll just download it in mp3 form.
For many though, there seems to be some sort of dichotomy in place – you can either like one form or another. I’m not sure why this is. Perhaps it’s just the natural resistance that you get to emerging technologies – I’ve got an uncle who still resents CDs and swears that you can’t beat vinyl for the faithful reproduction of music!
I mention all this as I stumbled across an ad on The Guardian website this morning for a new book, 101 Uses of a Dead Kindle. Being the saddo that I am, I was first drawn to the title as it didn’t didn’t seem correct grammatically. I assume that it’s authors are Americans as British authors would have called it 101 Uses for a Dead Kindle. Either way, it looks like an amusing read and I’ll probably add it to my Christmas wish list. No doubt many others will end up with a copy in their stockings too – why else release a book at this time of year about what is sure to be one of the biggest selling gadgets of the season?
My only problem now is whether to ask for the paperback or the e-book version.