Kindle – preliminary review

My Kindle arrived safely on Monday, and I’ve had a chance to start using it so I thought I’d post some preliminary comments.

Initial use

The device is easy to use, but it does require charging on first use. I charged it for about 2 hours and then started playing with it. The Kindle is lightweight and comfortable to hold, although the much-discussed problem of accidentally hitting either the Next Page or Last Page buttons did occur. I’m sure that Amazon will fix this in the next version, but I quickly got used to learning how to handle the device and now I rarely have the problem, which is only a minor inconvenience.

Downloading and reading

Downloading books takes about 30 seconds, max. I started by downloading some sample chapters, which is free. The ability to turn pages with a press of the finger is much better than flipping pages in a book (not something you can easily do with one hand, much less one finger). The text is easy to read, although at first it takes some getting used to. After one day I no longer noticed the ‘digital page turn.’ I love how easy it is to move from page to page, and the way the text looks. So, at this point I’m completely sold on using the Kindle as a way of reading that is in almost every way superior to ordinary books.

Buying books, magazines and newspapers

The wireless feature of the Kindle makes buying books ridiculously simple. I immediately went on a spree and bought a couple of books. If you’ve reached the end of one of the free sample chapters you are prompted to purchase if if you want. I downloaded a copy of Stephen King’s On Writing after reading the sample chapter, a book I never would have bought if I hadn’t gotten drawn into it.

I subscribed to two magazines and a couple of newspapers too, using the 14 day free trial option. Every day at 3 am (so I’m told) the NY Times is wirelessly delivered to the device. When I pick it up at around 7:00 am the paper is there ready to read. I had been reading the NY Times online using my laptop for free. So how is it different on the Kindle? Well, the screen is black & white so there are no fancy photos, in fact no photos at all. But, there are no ads either and reading articles is much less distracting. I find myself reading more articles, more quickly on the Kindle than on my computer. So the next question is would I pay the monthly fee ($14) for the New York Times? I don’t know, but I’m tempted. Individual editions can be bought as well, so maybe I’ll just buy the Sunday edition every once in awhile. I subscribed to the trial edition of The Atlantic, and since that’s only $1.25 per month I may get that magazine.

Miscellaneous observations

I love the ability to bop from book to book (or newspaper or magazine) and return to find myself in the exact same place I was when I left off. I decided to renew my effort to read the Bible from time to time because of this feature. I downloaded a King James version for about $2.50. Sweet.

Because it’s easy to store lots of books on the device I can see myself putting reference books on it. I also tested the feature that lets you email yourself a document that you want on the device. I had a book that was in PDF form that I wanted to move over. The Kindle doesn’t read PDFs, at least not yet. So I converted the PDF to a Word document and emailed it to my special Kindle email address. About 3 minutes later it showed up in the Kindle and was formatted perfectly. Bing!

The Kindle’s battery lasts for 2 days without recharging if you leave the wireless feature turned on. If you leave it unattended it goes to sleep. When the sleep mode kicks in the device generates a screensaver picture (apparently there are many stored in the device). Some of the screensavers are pretty interesting, i.e., pictures of famous artists or architectural wonders.

Traveling with the Kindle will be a joy. No longer will I struggle to decide what books or magazines I want to stuff into my backpack. I can take hundreds of books and magazines, and snag more on a whim from the invisible internet connection.

Conclusions

Overall I’m completely sold on the Kindle. From the time I was a kid I had always read a lot of books, but for some reason it became harder to do after law school. Encountering the Kindle is a lot like when I first tried an iPod. I sense that I’ll be reading a lot more books, and enjoying reading a lot more because it’s so convenient. I’ve heard some people criticize the Kindle, but most of the criticism focused on the appearance or the user-interface (which obviously can be improved). I read books for the word contained in them, and when I’m absorbed in reading I don’t notice the book itself which is exactly the same experience I get with the Kindle. As more titles become available for the Kindle it will continue to find more happy customers. Since most “Kindle books” are at least 50% less expensive than their paper counterparts I predict that the device will have paid for itself in less than a year.

  • http://www.appetites.us Robert

    You’ve reminded me of a partner’s meeting I attended a few years ago. I was tasked with explaining to the partnership why we were eliminating a lot of the books in our library during a remodeling. Some of my partners, particularly the older guys, were scandalized that we’d consider getting rid of books, or discontinuing the updates for some.

    I pointed out that what we were interested in was the data contained in the books, and that using Westlaw or some other electronic method of gathering that data was both more efficient and more rapidly updated.

    I think I was getting through to them up to the point that I referred to their preference for books over electronic information as an “aesthetic choice.” Probably could have phrased it better.

    I’m holding off on the kindle for a bit, for a number of reasons, but I think it’s a safe bet that this the way we’ll do most of our reading in the future.