What Makes Kindle Great

One of the things I like about reading on a Kindle is you can download a sample from the Kindle store or Amazon. How about The Summer Proposal by Vi Keeland? With a name like Vi, it would have to be good. (Wait, Vi’s a guy? I thought Vi was short for Viola, the only Vi I ever knew, Viola Hendricks.)

Samples are cool, samples are convenient, but when you download a sample from the Kindle store, certain parts of your Kindle don’t work. You can’t insert a bookmark. You can’t search, which is a feature I love and, because I am inattentive and read at night, as a prelude to sleep, is a feature I often need. (Wait a minute, who’s this Howard guy they’re talking about now?) And you can’t highlight and save text. Like this, from Under Majordomo Minor, by Patrick Dewitt:

“Wishing is a pastime for disappointment” and “Compromise is a plague of sorts.”

Or this from Kevin Phillips’ Nothing to See Here:

“They wore seersucker, like they were racist lawyers from the forties. I hated them. They seemed like children but they already looked like middle-aged men. I called them Mint Julep Boys, like they missed the Old South because, even if there was horrible racism, it was worth it if it meant that they could be important by default.”

This morning I’m reading Mary Miller’s “The Last Days of California,” the free Kindle sample. And true to form, I need to backtrack. I missed something. Elise is pregnant? Can’t search for the word pregnant. Can’t search without doofusly swiping backward 23 times, squinting at the device, looking for “pregnant.”  

Mary Miller is both funny and perceptive. I’d also like to highlight a few nuggets of text. Here’s a nugget from Carmiel Banasky’s The Suicide of Claire Bishop: “I’m not interested in objective Truth with a capital T. I’m talking about truth, subjective and hairy.“ Hairy truth. I sure love that, though I don’t want to touch it. Highlight saves these AND enables me to copy and paste sometime in the future (see above). In sample mode, nope, can’t do that.

It’s like going to Burt Watson Chevrolet and taking a car for a test drive. Sorry, the radio won’t work unless you buy the car. Sorry, you can’t put this car in reverse until you take out a loan and buy the car.

I can read a sample of a book in a store. There aren’t many of those left, and, party to their passage to extinction, I mourn their loss. At Schuler Books in Okemos, where I go with my wife to buy (mostly) children’s books, I wander around and pick up books. I like the feel of a new book, an actual book, in my hands.  But the chairs are not easy chairs, they’re moderately difficult chairs, and I need to put my feet up. I like to read samples lying in bed, in the dark, or in my comfy chair at 5:00 a.m., with coffee. 

The sample sold me on Mary Miller. I bought/downloaded the whole book at the bargain price of $9.99.  I would give you one example of a highlight, of how funny and perceptive Mary Miller is, but I had to plug in my Kindle to charge it. True, you don’t have to charge an actual book.  But this is an inconvenience I have made my peace with (or if you prefer, with which I have made my peace).  If you prefer the latter, something tells me you will never convert to a Kindle. 


  1. Sherrie English says:

    So true! I love a book in my hand and the pure joy of of spending time in a bookstore. I do have a Kindle, with the same issues as you, I typically use it for traveling as it is practically weightless.

  2. Kathleen Miller says:

    Rick We now live in Okemos! After covid you will have to combine a trip to Schulers with dinner at our house! Kay Miller

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