I love books and so does my wife. She spent a month working in a cold garage a few Januaries ago to build us some sweet bookshelves. I think we currently own about 500 books. You can see most of what is in our library here.
I also love technology. I’m a web programmer by trade. I grew up playing video games and continue to do so with my Xbox 360. I like buying apps for my cell phone.
So, the Kindle is a conundrum for me. I like having books in my library. I like using the latest technology. It was going to be a difficult choice on whether or not I bought a Kindle. Lucky for me, I received one for Christmas. Now that’s a great gift, but it comes with some hard choices. Even now that I have the Kindle, I am still torn between getting “real” books, and getting the digital version.
I decided I couldn’t make an informed decision without trying the Kindle out. I logged on to the Amazon store from the Kindle, using it’s free 3G service called Whispernet. I did a search for “Captain’s Fury”, and the book was pulled up a few seconds later. I could read reviews, and it also told me that print price of the book, and my special, Kindle only price, which was a few dollars cheaper.
I clicked on the buy button and it was automatically purchased through my Amazon account. 19 seconds later, the book was ready to read and I was on my way.
I figured the only way to really test the Kindle was to read extensively and see what happened. Or at least that was the excuse I gave my wife while I read in the basement all day on Saturday. Really, it was just a great book. The best way to sum up the Kindle is that I forgot that it was there. It didn’t seem any different than reading a book.
Here’s a pro and con list for the Kindle. Hopefully it can help me clear up my questions about how I’m going to treat my Kindle, and give you some insight into it as well.
- It’s easy on the eyes. With its very cool e-ink display, I never had an issue with eye strain while I read for a full day. And with the ability to change the font size on the fly, no one else will either.
- It’s easy on the eyes. Um, in a different way. It is a cool product to look at. The height and width is a bit larger than a standard paper back, but definitely smaller than a hard cover or those dopey, super large paper backs that are appearing everywhere now. And it’s thin. Very thin.
- I can browse and buy books from anywhere. This is great if I’m ever without a book, or if I just want to hop on the web (since it does have an integrated browser).
- It can hold 1500+ books at one time. My suitcase cannot do that. Granted, I don’t generally need more than a few books at a time when I travel. But, with the saved space, I can bring more chocolate. Sweet! Oh, and if I ever end up with a bad book while I’m in China, like when I had to read through Anne Rice’s Angel Time, I don’t need to plow through it because there is nothing else to read. That’s a nice bonus.
- Women dig the Kindle. No, really, they do. My wife read Dan Brown’s, The Lost Symbol on it. She thought the Kindle was great, but the book was not so hot.
- When you turn off the Kindle, a different screen saver shows up each time. I found myself just turning on and off the Kindle just to see what would show up.
- There is a built in dictionary. If you don’t know what a word is, just move the cursor over it, and you won’t be wondering any longer.
- Tons of classic books on Amazon that you can download for free. My wife was pumped that Pride and Prejudice was on there. I downloaded some Sherlock Holmes, The Last of the Mohicans, The Odyssey, The Prince, The Island of Doctor Moreau, and a bunch of other books that I probably won’t read yet, but they seem cool. They are there if I need them on a plane ride back from China.
- You can load music on it, and it will play in the background while you read. There’s a headphone jack too.
- It can play an audio book, or just read the text of a regular book for you.
- It takes up a lot less space than a library, and uses less paper to do it.
- The books are less expensive than buying a book at the store.
- It is way better to read War and Peace at night in your bed on the Kindle, than it is with a massive hardcover. I tried that last year and the book kept falling on me.
- I love to read while I eat lunch or dinner. The Kindle is much better suited for that. You don’t have to try and eat one handed, or prop open the pages of a stiff paper back. It just lies nicely and you can use the side of one finger to change pages. And if it gets food on it, just wipe it down.
- You can’t share books. I love reading a book, and then giving it to my wife, or to a friend. With a $10 book, I don’t mind doing that. With my $250+ Kindle, I do mind. Greatly. However, up to six people can share a Kindle account. You each need a Kindle, and you have to trust the people in the group to not just go buying a bunch of stuff and not paying for it, but it is a way to have a book group or share with friends. Hopefully the Barnes and Noble Nook, which can share books, will push the Kindle a bit in that direction. Just let me share it with 2 or 3 people.
- The cost of the device is rather prohibitive. But then again, it’s the top selling item on Amazon, so maybe I’m wrong about that. It’s prohibitive to me, how about that?
- I can’t just walk into my library and see my books there. I have to show someone my Kindle account to show them my library. Or start a library at my website: http://www.libzig.com to show them the library in a little nicer format.
- If the Kindle breaks, I have to buy a new one to read my books. Or read them on the PC with the Kindle on PC app. This one kind of sucks. It’s definitely worth getting a cover for it. There are a lot of covers to choose from, but I chose this one. It does the job and looks great doing it.
- The cost of an individual book seems a bit high. I understand that publishers want to make money, so offering a new book at $10 and old books for less than that makes sense to them, but it isn’t really supply and demand. The supply is unlimited. The cost, I have to think, isn’t too high once the file is created. It isn’t like they have to go print more. And don’t get me wrong, I’m all for paying people for their work. If I like the book, I’m happy to pay the money for it. It just seems like we should be able to find a standard price and stick to it. $5 for books past 90 days, $10 for books in the first 90 days after release seems pretty reasonable to me. The costs to publishers to create the book is down, so why not bring the cost down too.
- Asking for an Amazon Gift card is lamer (more lame?) than asking for an actual tome you can put on your shelf.
Hmm. It seems the pros outweigh the cons in number. The Kindle 2 is a really slick device. I enjoyed reading a book on it, and will do so in the future. I’m still now sure how I’ll handle my purchases on it. I’m not ready to abandon my physical library. I think I’ll follow this rule of thumb:
If someone wants to get me a gift, I’ll ask for the physical book.
If I am buying for myself, I’ll buy the digital version.
If I am going to travel with a book, I’ll buy the digital version, even if I already own the book.
And finally, if I really enjoy a series that I only have digital copies of, I’ll buy the set of books so I can proudly display them. I’m looking at you Lord of the Rings, Dark Tower, and Harry Potter.