Amazon Kindle: My First Year Review

- by Barbara Bretton

kindle

One year into my Amazon Kindle experience, it’s time to evaluate the relationship.

This is a highly partial, definitely biased, non-techno savvy review. I love reading on screen. Big screens. Little screens. PDAs. Dedicated readers. I’ve loved it since my Rocket Book many years ago, loved it through the TV Guide/RCA model.

Even loved it when I had to deal with greedy, grasping Microsoft who made it harder to access my own bought-and-paid-for reading material than military secrets at the Pentagon. I want ebook readers to succeed for many reasons, not the least of which is that I believe their ultimate dominance is not only inevitable but possibly vital to our survival in the marketplace.

So don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Cons:

 

1.      I’d like to meet the genius who designed the package. You literally can’t handle the Kindle without flipping pages. Without the Amazon-supplied cover, you are doomed to losing your place every time you move your fingers.  Ergonomically friendly? I don’t think so. User friendly? Not even close.

2.      A $350-400 ebook reader shouldn’t require accessories. Especially not accessories like clip-on battery-operated booklights that run out of juice at the worst possible moment. I’d gladly sacrifice time between charges for backlighting. (They claim that the technology used for “liquid ink” printing on screen is incompatible with backlighting but I’m not sure I believe it.)

3.      You know how they claim a true paper white/black ink reading experience? They lie. The screen color is somewhere between light taupe and dismal grey. The print, however, is black and crisp.

4.      Managing content could be easier.

5.      Yes, you can read outside fairly comfortably but I’d rather be able to read in bed without the previously mentioned damn annoying booklight attachment.

6.      Pagination is bizarre, to say the least. Forget the run of the mill 1, 2, 3, 4 configuration you’re accustomed to and say hello to page 2,370 at the halfway point in a novel. Unless you’ve scattered electronic breadcrumbs behind you in the form of bookmarks or notations, it’s impossible to figure out where you’ve been.

7.      Books don’t always start where you expect them to. Publishers make the starting point decision and very often they bypass dedications, acknowledgments, etc., so it can vary wildly and unpredictably.

8.      Too expensive. Even at the reduced $350 price, it’s at least $100 higher than it (or any other ebook reader) should be.

 

Pros:

           

1.      Great battery life. I can read for a week or so provided the wireless is turned off. With the wireless turned on, I need to recharge every third day or so.

2.      In over thirteen months of steady use, the wireless connection has never failed me. Not at home. Not driving down the highway at 65 mph. If only phone and internet connections could be half as reliable.

3.      Fabulous selection of content on Amazon in all genres.

4.      Amazon assigns you a special Kindle email address that you can use to, among other things, email Word documents to your device. Great for editing your ms in progress on the go.

5.      Yes, you can annotate.

6.      Built-in dictionary and encyclopedia.

7.      Access to Wikipedia,, Google, and NowNow, an Amazon real-live-human source of info on all things.

8.      My favorite thing: by using the Experimental section, I can access Google Mail on my Kindle. (Note to Kindle owners: if you have trouble, use the https address and then click on the link for mobile users.)

9.      The engineering, so far, has been rock solid. Not one single crash, problem, or moment when I couldn’t access either my library or the Kindle store. This may not seem like much to you but I am known around my home as She Who Kills All Things Electronic and the fact that my Kindle is not only still alive but thriving is a miracle in itself.

10.  Best sellers are only $9.99 as opposed to the $18-20 paper price.

11.  You can download music to the Kindle.

12.  Audiobooks too

13.  The addition of a simple flash card quadrupled my storage space. (And yes I’ve bought an obscene number of books since acquiring my Kindle. Thanks for asking.)

14.  I’ve also read three times as many books in 2008 as I read in 2007.  There’s something very seductive about having exactly the book you want at your fingertips whenever you want it.

15.  Miss the bookstore browsing experience? Kindle will send extremely generous book samples right to your device.

16.  The wait time between purchase and page one? Maybe ten seconds. Of course, your mileage may vary.

17.  And there’s even free content out there to help offset sticker shock.

·          Manybooks.net

·          Feedbooks.com

·          MobiPocket

·          Manybooks.net

·          Diesel E-Books

·          Tobias Buckell, sci-fi author 

 

I’ll admit it took me a few weeks to get comfortable with the Kindle but once I did, I fell in love.  Yes, it has its flaws but, for me, those flaws are easily offset by the sheer joy of hundreds of books tucked into a 7 X 5 inch footprint.

 

Total Grade: A-

 

3 comments

  1. I have been looking at the Kindle, but the price has me hesitating.

  2. I agree with the “Impossible to hold” part but after about a month, I can not only hold it without hitting anything I don’t want to, I can hold it in one hand and turn pages whenever I want to with that hand. Without the cover.

    Backlighting: I hope instead it will come with small LED lights built around the screen that are operated by a switch in the back. Backlighting is a pain on the eyes, and the on-off switch would make it the best of both worlds.

    Location numbers: I give up. They are truly random. On the bright side, they do go in order. I actually bookmark the beginning of every chapter to make my life easier, though, but I wish Amazon would do that for me….

    The price will fall, eventually. Generally, for electronics either quality doubles or price halves every other year.

    The Kindle also apparently has some strange extras they didn’t mention, including the time, mindsweeper and photo viewing.

    http://igorsk.blogspot.com/2007/12/hacking-kindle-part-3-root-shell-and.html

    Mine actually crashed multiple times, but it was my fault. Dang thing is apparently temperature sensitive, and runs really slowly at 40 degree Fahrenheit. Not surprised.

    Finally: Mobipocket’s .mobi generator is amazing. Especially when paired with a Kindle

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