Saturday, April 2

Amazon Kindle 3

For the past couple years I had been reading very little, two or three books a year.

For the past month my average has been two books per week.

The culprit is the Amazon Kindle 3 I bought during my stay in the US. I just can not recommend it enough. For starters, it is quite affordable at $139. The image quality is wonderful, and reading in daylight or even in direct sunlight is pleasant. This is a welcome change from a backlit screen as the eyes get noticeably less strained. The format of the device is even more convenient than of a real book (the size is perfect for plain text, start thinking about the Kindle DX if and only if you intend to read PDFs). The Kindle is quite thin and convenient to hold (and you do not need to keep it from closing as with paperback bindings). Battery life is on the order of weeks. Extra functionality (e.g., web browsing) is available, but not convenient, but that is almost an advantage as distractions are kept at bay. The Amazon store is great, I have already shelled out over $50 with little remorse (my time is much more expensive than the measly $9.99 a typical book costs). There are quite a few free books around too. And to top it off, the "screensaver" with pictures of writers is a very nice touch.

The Kindle is also useful for going through longer articles you would normally be reading on your laptop. The Chrome extension Send to Kindle has worked well for me, do check it out.

The most important drawback of the Kindle is that it is slow to turn pages, so it is not easy to browse a book. Turning a page takes a second or so. This is extremely annoying when reading in non-linearly, e.g. taking in study material, when you constantly need to go back to check up details of previous material. A PDF interpreter is available, but the screen is too small to show a full PDF page (a Kindle DX or an iPad would probably be better) and scrolling is painful because of the delays. Wireless seems to drain the battery noticeably, there have been a few cases where I forgot to turn it off and found a dead Kindle a few days later. I wish the WiFi connection would manage itself intelligently somehow.

The Kindle drove the point home for me that dead-tree books will be going the way of vinyl soon, much sooner than I had expected. And for good reasons. Go order now if you do not have an e-book reader yet (and do not forget to order a sleeve too, given the time you will be spending carrying the device it will come in very handy).