When I worked as a tour guide, rule number one was when the tourists asked how long it would take us to get where we were going, to add at least fifteen minutes to the estimated time and let it be a nice surspise when we are early. The other way round, you get grumpy tourists.
Amazon seems to follow the same principle. They give you an estimate delivery date with a wide margin, and you get happy when you get your order earlier. Since three days ago, I am a happy owner of a Kindle.
Being a professional reader, I cannot but reflect on the implications. I showed my new toy to a Russian friend with whom I was talking on Skype, and she commented, unimpressed, "Oh yes, I have one too". Apparently people do not make much fuss about their Kindles. However, I have resisted so long that I really need to contemplate the pros and cons.
It is vey small. Smaller than I thought it would be. It is smaller than a paperback book, and the screen is smaller yet. My first reaction was, I can't read that small text. But yes, I can. It is a pleasurable font size and background, and I don't feel any radical difference from reading a paper book. I don't mind having one page at a time, and I can get two pages if I want. It is very light and easy to hold, and after ten minutes I turn pages without thinking about it. After the initial settings, I don't use the keyboard because I find it too small and inconvenient to use. I have downloaded the first fifteen free classics that I wanted to re-read anyway, and they will keep me busy for a while. I downloaded them through my compuer, which I think is very good service. I feel much more comfortable with my computer with its large keyboard and mouse.
I have played a bit with the toy, reading the manual and testing what it can do. So far, I don't need anything that it can do. I don't want to clip my favourite passages and share them on Facebook. I may want at some point to clip quotes to paste them direct into my own writing, but I am not there yet. I don't need to read my Facebook or check my email on the run - I don't have a smartphone either.
So what is a Kindle for me? IT'S A BOOK!