07 October 2009

Vegan Kindle

I have been a voracious reader all my life. I spent every flashlight battery in the house reading under the covers. I begged to be allowed to read at the dining room table. I've read thousands of pages on buses, as the passenger in cars, on trains, on planes. Even a college class where we read ALL of Solzhenitsyn in one ten-week period could not destroy my love for the written word. If I'm awake, if my eyes are open, I'm often as not scanning my surroundings for something to read.

About ten years ago, I did a product test for Microsoft. I can't remember what their e-reader was called, or even whether or not it was a physical object when I did the test. But I remember that my opinions about e-books at that time were largely negative. No, no, no; I preferred paper. No, there is something special about holding a book. No, I can't read on a screen. And so on.

Somewhere along the way, my thinking changed. For one thing, once Amazon's Kindle landed in the hands of actual readers, their enthusiasm was infectious. Also, E Ink is pretty freaking cool.
And I'm a long-time Amazon customer whose experiences with the company have been nearly always positive, and their commitment to the e-book format frankly gave me more hope for its future than, well, Microsoft could. So I decided to spend my birthday cash on a Kindle 2.

One of the things I was curious about, but resisted the urge to explore fully until my Kindle actually arrived, was how many vegan cookbooks are available for the Kindle. It's a little nervewracking to think of using an expensive electronic device in the kitchen, where I routinely spill water, and, um, occasionally set off the smoke alarm. And maybe splatter things a bit. But my kitchen is home to our washer and dryer, and that's where I set up my conventional cookbooks, and they have been safe from harm. But even more appealing than cooking from a cookbook in e-book form is the prospect of menu-planning in whatever moments I can steal during the course of the day. I usually plan menus by flipping through my cookbooks, and coming up with a week or so's worth of compatible dishes. I do frequently throw a stack of cookbooks in the passenger seat of my car, or into my bicycle's pannier, but how much more convenient could it be to have a library of cookbooks available on my Kindle? With the capacity for annotating recipes?

It's not a complete library, but there are some great titles available in the Kindle Store. My one criticism so far is that the book samples for several titles I checked out did not include any recipes. I think that including at least a few would give potential buyers a better feel for an author's recipe-writing style, for how simple or complicated they like to make things, and to what sorts of ingredients they rely on. The other drawback might be that photos are, and will be for the foreseeable future, black and white. I don't mind that so much. The portability issue carries the day!

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