She unties the ribbon, peels the wrapping paper off, and opens the box. What is it? A Kindle Fire! That’s awesome!
She turns it around to find the power button. It doesn’t come on. Hmm. Oh yeah, it needs to be charged. She finds the charger and plugs it in.
A while later, the Kindle is charged and turns on. Service? What? It doesn’t come with free service? It needs wireless service! Let’s see. There is free wireless at the coffee shop, but a router must be installed in order to access the internet from home.
After a trip to the electronics store, she has a router. It should be easy to install, right? Where is the modem? She crawls under her desk, bending her body so that she can connect cables to the back of her CPU, modem, and telephone. So dirty! Electronic devices are dust magnets!
It’s time to try it out. Not yet. Need to wash those hands first. What? Still no service! Of course. The hardware is connected, but the software hasn’t been installed.
Where are those instructions? Setup. Three easy steps. She follows the directions to install the software. She tries using the Kindle again. It still doesn’t show up. So frustrating! Ah, finally! There it is. Enter the password. Ta-da!
Receiving a present sure can be a burden! But well worth it. Now it’s working. Just look at the graphics. What is that design? Gears? It looks incredible!
She wonders what to do first. Let’s get a book! Click ‘books.’ That was easy. Sort by ‘title.’ Wait a minute! There aren’t any books here. Where are the books? Okay, there aren’t any books on the ‘device.’ Better click ‘store.’
Best sellers, popular categories, daily deals. So many choices. It’s almost time to start preparing dinner. How about a cookbook? That might not be a popular category. Where are the other categories? Let’s hit ‘browse.’ Didn’t work. What? That’s not a button. Maybe cookbooks will be a popular category. She clicks ‘popular categories’ to find out. Way down at the bottom, there is ‘all books.’
Wow! This is really cool. It’s like having a bookstore in the living room, on a bus, or in an airplane.
Huh? All of the books are in order on a single list. Where are the categories? Oh, there is a ‘refine’ option. Is it an ‘eBook’ or a ‘single’? What is the difference? Try ‘eBook.’ Finally! There is a ‘cooking, food, & wine’ category; subcategory ‘meals.’ Where is dinner? Ugh!
She puts her Kindle down and logs onto her desktop computer. She visits Amazon, finds Kindle, and clicks on ‘Kindle eBooks.’ Oh, this is so much easier! That’s the book. Kindle for PC? No, not for PC; for a real Kindle. Hmm. There is a ‘deliver to’ option. What is a ‘cloud’? This word ‘cloud’ was on the Kindle. Let’s see…
All right! There is finally a cookbook on her Kindle Fire. Need to turn a page. Oh, it works like a cell phone. Small picture. Is there a zoom button? Where are all the buttons? That’s power… When she presses the screen, some touchscreen options come up at the bottom. She increases the font size, but the pictures are still small. These other buttons don’t zoom either. She finds more touchscreen buttons at the top. Still no zoom, but there is a ‘more’ button. Must be under ‘display.’ Nope. Where is the instruction booklet? She checks the packaging for the instructions. No instructions! Which evil genius designed this infuriating gadget?
She touches the picture. Nothing happens. She touches it twice quickly. The picture opens on its own page, larger than before. What was that? Double-click to zoom? It’s not like there is a mouse…
After finding a suitable recipe, she begins following directions to prepare lasagna for dinner. Why is the Kindle off? It must have timed out… She turns it back on and retypes the password. Incorrect password! Must have touched the wrong letter. Try it again. She continues cooking.
She returns to the Kindle to read the next step. What is that on the screen? A smear! Already? It’s brand new! Need to get a screen protector… and a case.
What is that message on the screen? Fifteen minutes of battery left. No way! Dinner won’t be ready for another thirty minutes. Better find the charger…
During dinner, she reflects on her first experience with her new Kindle Fire. There was a slight learning curve, but it wasn’t too bad. She is getting the hang of it. It’s really convenient. The graphics are awesome. It functions like a great big cell phone. Not only can she buy any book and read it anywhere on a fairly big screen, she can even browse the internet anywhere that she has wireless access. Very cool!
Later that night, with her Kindle fully charged, she begins reading a science fiction book that she found. Which is more convenient ─ portrait or layout? She settles on portrait mode. Trying to scroll onto the next page, she accidentally turns back a page. No biggie. Another time, she holds her finger on the spot a little too long, and the word is highlighted. A window pops up, showing the pronunciation key and definition. A built-in dictionary. That’s amazing! She also sees ‘note’ and ‘highlight’ options. Impressed, she tries to do this again with another word. A display comes up instead. No, not that. She tries again, holding her finger in place longer. Aha! That’s it.
As she continues reading, she notices that some of the indents are longer than others. That’s strange. Why isn’t there a standard size for the tabs? A while later, she finds a little square in the middle of a sentence. What is that little box doing there? How funny. Several pages further, she discovers a hyphen-ated word in the middle of a line. Aren’t hyphens used at the end of a line? In the next chapter, she spots a misspelled word. Really? This is the age of technology. The book is digital. The author must have used a computer to type it. Neither the author nor the editor used spellcheck? How is this possible?
Attempting to scroll onto the next page, suddenly an internet browser opens. What is going on? She is reading a book, not going online. When she closes the internet browser, she spots a hyperlink in the middle of the page. Oh. Must have clicked that by mistake. This book is like a minefield.
The next day, a friend inquires, “So what do you think about your new Kindle Fire?”
She replies, “Oh, I absolutely love it!”
Chris McMullen, self-published author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers