The Kindle as a critiquer’s tool.

I got a Kindle in the spring of 2010, around the time that they first started shipping to Canada. It’s a second generation e-ink model, with the mobile networking, (no wi-fi.) I’ve never been a voracious reader on the Kindle, but I’m glad I got it.

As I mentioned recently, I’ve been trying to do more reading of other writer’s work for critique on the Kindle, and it’s working out reasonably well. The e-ink technology does take a second or so to flash to a new page, so you have to get used to that, but it’s a fairly convenient form factor to hold while sitting on the bus, with a larger reading area than my iphone or a PDA, but not as heavy or bulky as a netbook computer. And the e-ink really is easier on the eyes than an LCD display.

But when I’m reading to critique, it isn’t just about reading the words on the page. I like to be able to take notes as I go, relating them to particular points in the text, and to review those notes later. I’m learning that the Kindle does decently on this as well, once you figure out how. You can use the little four-way rocker to move a cursor through the page that you’re reading, and then start typing anywhere to create a new note on that word. Saving the notes used to take a long time, but Kindle Debug mode was able to make the process nearly instant!

Typing is a little easier said than done. My Kindle has a reasonably full keyboard, including a row of numbers, but there’s almost no punctuation built into the keyboard – you have to hit the symbol key and move the cursor around the pop-up table of symbols to use an apostrophe or a question mark.

And the keyboard layout is completely rectangular, instead of slightly offset like a standard QWERTY keyboard. (Is that because somebody else held a patent on an offset keyboard on a smaller device?) So I’m forever hitting the wrong letter on the bottom row – m for n, and so on. And I’m always mistaking the the enter button for a backspace, because it just has a down-and-left arrow icon on it, which is easy to mistake for the left-arrow icon I want to see for backspace. (You have to use the DEL key to backspace.)

But I think I’m getting used to the keyboard issues, and have gotten a lot of reading done for a novel-length manuscript I agreed to critique over at . I think I’ll try converting over some other files that I know I want to read this month!

The other interesting part of critiquing on a Kindle is reviewing your notes. There are two different ways – using the ‘View my notes and marks’ option from inside the book on the Kindle itself, or transferring the ‘My clippings’ file from the kindle over USB. Both of them give the numeric ‘location’ within the book, (based on a numeric scale that tends to have about five locations per screenful of text,) and lets you see what the text of the note was at each location. Last time I compiled my notes, I used the ‘my clippings’ file, and found I had to scan through the document on the Kindle anyway to figure out where each location was. It looks as if ‘view my notes and marks’ also shows you the text at that location, so maybe I’ll just page through there this time.

Wish me luck!


2 Responses to The Kindle as a critiquer’s tool.

  1. Rogue Mutt says:

    My blog post today was using the Kindle as an editing tool. Although I have one of the new Kindle Touch models.


  2. Good luck. 🙂 I LOVE my Kindle.


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