Monday, March 7, 2011

Kindle

This Christmas, I got a Kindle. And I love it. I did not expect to love it, but I really do.

First, there's the form factor. A Kindle is lighter than a paperback, it can be manipulated with only one hand, you can put it down without losing your place, and the line spacing and text sizes are totally configurable. Since a "page" on a Kindle contains less text than a "page"on a book, it's easier to find my spot and I get more of a sense of progress as I read. This is doubly true since I've been reading 800-1000 page fantasy tomes. And the battery lasts for a good long while, which is nice, and I can sync it to my phone, WHICH IS AWESOME. The long and the short of it is, I love reading, but I don't like books, and the Kindle nicely subverts that for me in a way that I had not anticipated.

There are lots of features that I don't care about included: background music and text-to-speech. And there are many titles I would love to read or re-read on Kindle that simply aren't there. Some authors eschew it altogether, some publishers price Kindle books above any of the other versions, which I take issue with. When you purchase an e-book, you're removing yourself from the secondary market, and some concession on price would be nice. You can't exactly re-sell it when you're done. But this is new tech, so I think the prices will trend down a bit. And some of the publishers are in line with this. A few titles I'd love to get around to reading are only $5 on Kindle, and that's a pretty good price-point for a non-new-release. Above $10 seems excessive, but I'd do it for the right book. Probably.

Although I must confess some reluctance to buying that first title. Despite the fact that I have Netflix and Steam and iTunes, I still feel weird buying something without getting a physical good. And I, in fact, didn't buy my first Kindle book, Evan gifted me The Great Hunt, which was the next WoT book I was going to read. And within the first hundred pages (or the Kindle equivalent), I was sold. And now, three or four books later, I'm almost-but-not-quite to the point of just not being willing to read physical books anymore.

There are some other downsides (aside from pricing). The page refresh is a little slow and does this negative flashy-thing that's a bit distracting at first, but it took very little time to stop noticing it. I could do with some easier-to-navigate menus. It has a "lend" function that feels a bit hobbled. But these are quibbles. I'm still figuring out the best way to keep my place across devices--it has bookmarks that sync, but you have to wrangle them manually through a menu (maybe there's a keyboard shortcut that I haven't discovered... that'd be nice). It will automatically sync to the farthest-read page, but that doesn't help you much if you're re-reading something or are referencing a glossary in the back.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention how it compares to other devices. I've played with a Nook Color, and I didn't like it. It's quite heavy and it has a back-lit screen--I love the e-ink on the Kindle. I don't need a book to be in color, and I can't imagine the battery lasts any time at all. And it looks like a knock-off of an iPad. I played with a regular Nook a while ago, and I remember not being impressed, but I know lots of people that have it and love it. My big complaint was that the page-buttons weren't very responsive, but that might just have been because it was a store demo unit that had been abused by patrons. Some people have complained about the "openness" of the format. There's a valid argument to be made, but I really don't care. I buy all of my books from Amazon already. And, interestingly enough, the Kindle has changed the way I shop for books. I'm interested in far more titles than I'll ever get around to reading. Before, I would go ahead and buy many of them and they would sit on my shelf and not get read. Now, I just send the sample chapter to my device where I can forget about it until I decide I want to read something new.

I'm sure I'll have more to say about this as times goes on, but this post has gotten long enough. Happy reading.

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