April 19, 2011
Being a bookworm is not the most convenient of bike touring habits.
As wonderful as books are, I have a love-hate relationship with them on a bike tour. I wouldn't be without a book in the tent at night, but at the same time books fill my panniers and literally weigh me down.
They're also expensive to buy when I'm trying to stick to a budget, and sometimes -- depending on where in the world I happen to be -- English-language books are impossible to find.
Amazon's Kindle eBook reader has long seemed like a perfect solution to my book dilemma, and I finally got a Kindle 3 to play with.
Here are my first impressions.
Very light and compact. At just 240g, it weighs less than most paperbacks.
Great battery life; up to 1 month with the wi-fi turned off.
Can hold up to 3,500 books (great for bike tours where you may not have easy or cheap access to physical books).
Many classic books are in the public domain, and therefore freely available through sites like Project Gutenberg.
Also displays PDFs. This seems like the ideal way to carry and access repair manuals for things like stoves and water filters.
Possible to access the internet (although the browser is not the easiest to use).
The screen seems a bit fragile. You'll probably want to buy a cover for it (and the covers that Amazon sells seem expensive to us). You could also protect it by wrapping the Kindle in lots of soft clothes and packing it carefully in your panniers.
Some books aren't available on the Kindle.
Overall, my first impressions of the Kindle are very positive. It will definitely be going in the panniers this summer, and I'll report back after putting it to the bike touring test.
Photo by Friedel Grant
FRIEDEL GRANT launched into bike touring with a tour around the world with her husband. They pedaled 48,000km through 30 countries before settling down to ride bikes in The Netherlands. Friedel writes about bike touring on her website, Travelling Two, and you can follow her on Twitter (@travellingtwo). She also contributes to Transitions Abroad and has written a chapter for the Adventure Cycle-Touring Handbook.