Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Reading a Kindle in the bath

Last month I had a birthday. The occasion leaves me well and truly within the realms of 'middle aged' – but I was fortunate enough to receive one of them new-fangled things that all the cool kids are calling a 'Kindle'.

Before then, I was very pro-ebook but reluctant to commit to a device that didn't do anything else. I'd been reading on my iPod Touch for the past couple of years, but was wary of forking out for something that only displayed ebooks, especially as the iPod Touch served the purpose very well, in addition to getting on the internet, playing music and providing handy apps.

I was, however, grateful to receive the Kindle, and its usefulness quickly became apparent. I can email academic papers to it rather than having to print them off and have loads of bits of A4 floating around the house at the mercy of a 4-year-old boy and a Staffordshire bull terrier. So far, I've used the Kindle as a PDF-reader rather than a book reader, and for that purpose it's brilliant. I can highlight bits and add comments, and the Kindle lets me view all these highlights in one go, which makes it a great way of summarising a document.

There are some things I'm not so keen on – I find it hard to adjust to the lack of backlighting, and haven't yet found a contrast setting that's as clear as a paper book in ordinary light. It all just seems very grey. Although the Kindle is supposed to be ideal for reading in direct sunshine, well... I live in England, so that's not really an issue. The experimental web browser is well... experimental, (assuming 'experimental' is a synonym for 'crap'). And using arrow keys to tap out a search in the Kindle store is so tedious that I haven't actually bought anything. But overall, I like not having to take print-outs on the train, and another advantage is that my young son doesn't try to commandeer it – he gets bored with the fact that the touch-screen inexplicably doesn't work.

I still haven't read an actual book on it, but I was getting along well with the Kindle until the other day, when I discovered I had been committing a terrible offence that probably dates back to the time of King Alfred or someone. I have been reading my Kindle in the bath.

I had no idea this was a Bad Thing. But when idly looking online for other people's opinions I found out that the phrase 'and you can't read it in the bath!' (presumably accompanied by a hoik of the bosom and a catsbum expression) is the last word in arguments against e-readers.

Why the heck can't you read a Kindle in the bath? If you're worried about dropping it – well, don't bloody drop it then! It's not as if we all went around chucking printed books willy-nilly into baths before Kindles came along. I'm not really bothered about steam getting into it, but for those who are, I'm sure clear plastic bags aren't that difficult to find these days. It's still easier than reading a weighty hardback.

Now that I've said this, there is of course the chance that irony will rise to the challenge and make me drop the Kindle into the water. Luckily I'm one step ahead of that possibility – to cheer myself up in the event of it happening, I've already started saving for an iPad.

16 comments:

Luisa Plaja said...

I'm shocked that you read your Kindle in the bath. At the same time, I want to try it as soon as possible... :)

Helen Black said...

I'd always assumed that th reason you couldn't use 'em in the bath was because if you dropped them in you'd be electrocuted.
HB x

JO said...

Putting anything electrical on close contact with water is never a great idea.

MorningAJ said...

It's a real shame that you didn't receive a Sony e-Reader, because a lot of the problems you mention don't exist with it.

I've never tried reading mine in the bath though!

Christine Donovan said...

The very first copy of my novel that I sold ended up dropped in a bath - but at least they were reading it. And you definitely can't get electrocuted by a book.

Maggie May said...

Now I know why I don't want a kindle, never wanted a kindle and never will want a kindle. Yeh for books that you can flip through, stop, take a look at the author's blurb, go back to the bit you weren't sure about, see just how far along you are and how far to the next chapter. Long live the book. Amen

Debs Riccio said...

What Maggie May said. With knobs on.

Lesley Walker said...

I certainly wouldn't be brave enough to read a Kindle in the bath. Like some of your other followers, I would be scared of electrocuting myself! Anyway, baths are for thinking about writing and working out difficult plot lines. And dreaming of publication of course!

Caroline Rance said...

I admit to flunking A-Level physics, but I'm still not convinced that a small battery-powered device can generate enough current to kill someone, unless it is charging from mains power at the time.

If, however, I'm the first person to die from a Kindle, I'll update the post as a warning to others.

Luisa Plaja said...

OK, *now* I'm scared, Caroline. ;)

Anonymous said...

A small electrical device such as a kindle hasn't got enough power to electrucute you in the bath, however if stema gets into it it will probably not work for long.

Caroline Green said...

Mine went very odd from the steam when read it in the bath, I must say. I'm sure it can't be good to get dampness inside something that must be periodically plugged in, surely?

Stuart Moore said...

No chance of even uncomfortable electrocution let alone death with a Kindle in the bath (as long as not plugged into mains and allowing water to drip along the lead or using a bad charger/ lead).

Longer term exposure to the damp environment will shorten the life of the Kindle, but you will probably want an upgrade before expiry anyway.

High risk though of earlier problems including water marks on screen that can not be removed and failure of some of the keys including on/ off switch. Charging socket might also become faulty.

Use protection. Also useful to protect from sand on the beach.

TimB said...

Just one point - you say "using arrow keys to tap out a search in the Kindle store is so tedious that I haven't actually bought anything" and also "the touch-screen inexplicably doesn't work" - if you have arrow keys, you don't have a touch screen, unless you have some secret model that I don't know about.

Anonymous said...

Haha, You can't get electrocuted by a kindle...

Imagine if you had your phone in your pocket and you fell in a puddle! If something that small could electrocute you people would be dying all the time.

I bet you would feel uncomfortable if you placed your tongue across the terminals in the battery, but that would be the closest you could come to serious harm.

Denem BV said...

come on people, if you could get electrocuted by an ereader, I would have taken over the world with a death ray powered by my phone :).