Sunday, January 1, 2017

Kindle: Some Minuses and a Big Plus

I've been an enthusiastic user of the Kindle since I got one a couple of years ago. I'm not an enthusiastic early-adopter of technology--it took me years and years to finally succumb to the attractions of the iPhone--but as soon as I realized that the Kindle was not just an ebook reader, but a doorway to the Amazon bookstore, I was sold. You can purchase and download any Kindle book to your reader in just a few seconds. To a book lover whose tastes ran to the esoteric, this is a dream come true.

Now for the downside: for light fiction, which consists just of pages of text, the Kindle Paperwhite (the reader I own) seems just about perfect. You need to buy a cover for it, but with that you can carry it anywhere. It is large enough to enable you to read simple text easily, but light enough to carry around and hold easily in the hand. Reading in bed and in dim light is much better with a Kindle than a paper book as the screen is illuminated. But for serious non-fiction books, there are some serious limitations. For example, I just read a history of Spain on the Kindle and while the photos were ok, if a bit small, all the maps were completely illegible because too tiny to read. This is also true of any book with musical examples: they will be hard to read at best and often impossible. So this is a serious problem!

But I have found the solution: download the free Kindle reader from Amazon and you can read these kinds of books on your desktop computer (or tablet, but I haven't tried that) in a nice, big roomy window--in color! Added super plus is that not only is the reader free, but you can go back and read all those Kindle books you have already purchased in your new reader at no additional cost. You already own them. And now you can actually see them!

I was driven to this discovery by my need to read Boris Berman's Prokofiev's Piano Sonatas: A Guide for the Listener and Performer which is $82 in hardcover but only $18 for Kindle. But if you can't actually see the musical examples, the Kindle version is hardly worth it. Hence the need for the Kindle reader software so you can read on your desktop.

Here is a screenshot showing how easily readable musical examples are with the reader:

Plus, I now know how it is that some bloggers can easily quote sections from Kindle books they are reading without having to retype the whole passage as I have been doing. They are just copying and pasting from the desktop reader.

Portability has always been the big plus with the Kindle. I can walk around with hundreds of books at my fingertips. Now, even when I travel, I can have access to the detailed graphics of non-fiction books by downloading the reader software to my laptop. It's all good!

Am I the last person to discover this? If so, I apologize!

Let's have some music to welcome in the New Year. I will be doing a lot of Prokofiev soon, so let's have something else. This seems the occasion for some Bach. One of his cheeriest large vocal/orchestral works is the Magnificat, which you really can't hear too often. This is the Arnold Schoenberg Choir and Concentus Musicus Wien conducted by Nikolaus Harnoncourt. The soloists are Christine Schafer, Anna Korondi, Bernarda Fink, Ian Bostridge and Christopher Maltman:


Marc Puckett said...

Ha; I just lost a comment into the ether but the gist was... no, believe me, you aren't the last one to realise that the desktop Kindle is better for some purposes than the tablet Kindle. Maybe the penultimate one. :-)

Bryan Townsend said...

Heh! So you are just discovering this as well?

Marc Puckett said...

There were a few months a couple of years ago when my only access to Kindle was the desktop version.

Was reading The Messiaen Companion (ed. Peter King) in the fall and had to struggle with the musical examples, wrongly or imperfectly displayed on the small tablet, open there, and the online keyboard, open here-- it was... frustrating. That the desktop Kindle exists totally escaped me (could have had two windows open side by side). :-)

Bryan Townsend said...

By pure chance, at this very moment I have the Messiaen Companion open on my desktop Kindle reader! I was reading it quite a while ago, but the musical examples were almost completely illegible. So I am re-reading it.