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).


Philipp Kern said...

Hm, the Amazon web page suggests that delivering articles to the Kindle via email (which seems to be the transmission method of the Chrome extension) actually costs money. Is this the case on wifi Kindles too, or is that only true for transmission over 3G?

manugw said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
manugw said...

I have had a great experience and love my kindle 3, it is true that you read more books with the device than you used to do when purchasing them in the book store. I am not an American either in fact I am an Argentinian, my brother brought me the kindle 3 from the US during a family visit as a gift.

Gintautas Miliauskas said...

Philipp, Amazon charges for 3G delivery of user-provided material, but Wifi sync is always free.

Fanen A. said...

I think you are too quick to pronounce the demise of the dead-tree book.

Ebooks are a bit of a disadvantage, especially for throwaway books like fiction, because you cannot re-sell or give them away after you're done reading them, but their pricing does not reflect this loss of flexibility enough.

For me, I average up to 3 books a month, and they are all dead-tree.

In March, I bought a good 6 books, 3 of which were pre-owned. I do hope dead-tree books live long and prosper, until ebook readers and their manufacturers recognize that there are people outside of the G-8 that would also like to read books.

Gintautas Miliauskas said...

Fanen, you're right that ebooks do not have a secondary market because of DRM. However, you can lend most Kindle books to your friend.

I guess this wave will simply reach the developing world a little later, as usual.

Aiste said...

Page turning time is a dead turn-off for me. I've been reading books on my Tungsten T3 for quite a long time already and yes -- the screen is small, the battery life is nothing to be proud of, reading in sunlight is a pain, but it does not have that annoying delay when you scroll or turn a page. I'm sticking to my palm until there is something similar and more suitable for book reading than Kindle.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the feedback on the Kindle, I looked at one of those in an airport shop and the screen looks great.

What you say about this device changing your habits and pushing you to read more should make you think though.

Is this just the thrill of the novelty and you are going back soon to two books per year? If this is the case, it would be nice to see a post here like: six months ago I bought a kindle but I'm not really using it anymore because I dont actually read books...

Also, how many books does Amazon sell for the Kindle as opposed to how many are available on paper (from ANY seller). Vinils dies when ALL music was made available in a single format like the CD understandable by ANY reader. MP3 players still havent killed the CD because of this mess of "what you buy here does not play there" and "something is not sold at this online shop". To kill paper books you need (and it might not be sufficient) an established book format (PDF could be the one if adopted universally) that could be read equally well on any bookreader.

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