I still remember how my grandma fell in love with the Kindle last winter. It was December and I was visiting home for Christmas. She is 68 and staunchly proud of everything that is old, definitely books too. She is an avid reader and you will be surprised by how much she knows about books, authors, poetry, and lyrics.
She was not the kind who took well to modern technology. She struggled with Skype and Facebook, and the smartphone was a complete no-no. She still functions on landline telephones and an address book, and occasionally, the huge Nokia bar phone. No, it is not that we didn’t offer her a better phone, we all wanted to, but she strongly refused saying that everything was the way she wanted and that she was set.
One lazy evening, I was lying on the lawn, intently reading Shantaram on my Kindle Voyage, when I felt a shadow blocking the heat beating down on my back. I looked back and saw my grandma standing there. After my “Hi, Ayi!”, she asked me why I spend too much time on modern technology. She literally went “You should be reading books instead of spending too much time on your phones and tablets.”
As a Technical Writer by profession, the natural instinct to explain kicked in. I took the onus on myself to explain to her that I was reading an e-book, explained about some key features, took her to the App Store, checked out some Stephen King, and then asked her to try it for just that night. She asked me tons of questions and that got me to thinking whether our modern gadgets are friendly enough for older people. Was the Kindle designed friendly enough for use by people who are not comfortable with the fancy features of modern technology and may never even use the Bluetooth?
With a Kindle, thankfully, the basic actions of what you do while operating an e-book is very similar to what you would perform while reading a real book:
|Task||Physical Book||A Kindle|
|1.||Take a book.||Take the Kindle.|
|2.||Open it.||Switch the power button on.|
|3.||Begin reading. If it is a half-read book, then you begin reading from the bookmarked page.||Select a book and begin reading. If you are already in the middle of reading a book, the bookmark will remember where you have left off and take you to that page directly; you do not have to select the book again.|
|4.||Flip pages.||Tap or slide on the screen to flip pages. With the new Kindle Voyage, you squeeze the bezels slightly.|
|5.||Underline important points.||You can add notes and underline important points too.|
|6.||Close book when you are done.||Switch off the Kindle when you are done.|
In addition to the basic act of reading, the Kindle has many pros that can enhance reading experience:
- You have your whole library in an alphabetical manner for easy access to books
- The basic task of holding and turning pages become even more easier and convenient
- A simple tap to bookmark pages
- X-Ray to remind you of the plot and list of characters that you are reading about
- Text to Speech for people who enjoy being read to or people who have special needs like poor eyesight, Arthritis, Muscle problems, etc
- Adjustable font size
- Adjustable brightness level, which you cannot do with normal books
- Great battery life
The following are a list of items that could possibly be the cons:
- Buying books from the App Store could become complicated
- Managing books on the Cloud
- Internal memory may not be enough to store all of the books they want to read offline
- In the tablet version of the Kindle, the multi-media apps may confuse the user
Looking at the pros and cons, I would say that the Kindle is a winner for older citizens. A lot of older people say that technology and gadgets are not for them, but interestingly, they are embracing the Kindle faster than smartphones. The cons are negligible because, generally, we do not buy books everyday and we could assist older people when they do buy books. Also, in time, they will definitely get the hang of browsing books in their library and the Amazon environment. However, I must that add that the Kindle seems to be friendly particularly for reading purposes. The Kindle tablet versions may still be a struggle and will specifically benefit users who need or want the Text to Speech feature.
I still have not figured out what it is with older people, but once they love something, they really do whole-heartedly. The Kindle Whitepaper is the one gadget that my grandma truly approves of and I am planning to gift her a Kindle Voyage this New Year.