I’ve had my new Kindle for a few days now and have read two books on it. I like it very much so far, and I’ve been thinking about how it could change the future of my reading. This review is based on the current model: 6″ Display, Global Wireless, Latest Generation.
Arrival of the Kindle.
Some information on the Kindle which I personally found useful before choosing it as my primary ebook reader:
About 1/3 of an inch thick, weighs 10.2 ounces.
Can last up to one week on one battery charge with wireless turned on, or up to two weeks with wireless turned off.
Able to read TXT and PDF documents. [Perfect for doing course readings on the go.]
E-ink technology means you can read without glare.
Connects to Amazon Whispernet so you don’t have to log onto a network. I don’t really know how Whispernet works, but it seems to be available in all major Canadian cities and strangely enough, a large portion of Alberta.
Books are delivered/downloaded in under 60 seconds.
The battery is not removeable, so you would need to send the entire device back to Amazon for repair.
My first negative reaction to the Kindle was how the screen blinks black before changing pages, but I quickly got used to that and now I barely notice. I suspect that for people using ebook readers for the first time (like myself), there will be a lot of things to get used to, but in no way should this put people off buying ebook readers.
The Kindle is very easy to use for people who aren’t familiar with gadgets and gizmos. The basics of using the Kindle (selecting titles, turning “pages”) are very straightforward and intuitive. If you want to upload files from your computer, you can connect via USB and drag and drop files in the correct folders. The 5-way controller, located to the right of the screen, looked tricky at first – it’s so small that it seems like it’d go in any direction when you try to push it, but I haven’t had any problems with it so far. Sometimes you have to push harder on the keys than you think, though. The “Next Page” buttons are located on either side of the screen in the natural spots where your thumbs sit, and the smaller “Previous Page” button sits on the left.
Here’s the kicker: the “Home” button takes you to your master list of books and other documents, where you can’t organize them into folders. As a future librarian with a passion for organization, this is a huge letdown. You can view by books, personal docs, or all files, but that’s it. You can sort your documents by title, author, or most recently added, but even this is problematic. Personal docs and PDF files that I create are filed under my full name when I would obviously rather file an academic article under its own author. “Lewis Carroll” is correctly found under C but “L. Frank Baum” was filed under L. This is not the Kindle’s fault; it’s simply how the metadata was inputted, but you can’t change the metadata using the Kindle. I found a program called Calibre that allows you to edit the metadata before it uploads files to your device via your computer, but even then, all authors were filed by first name rather than last even though I specified the reverse. Oh well, you can’t win ’em all. For non-techies who prefer correct metadata, this could be an issue.
My Kindle has a very basic web browser which is best used for websites that are mainly text without fancy images and script. That said, I doubt I’ll ever be checking my email on the Kindle. It’s just not built for that. It’s built for reading books, and that is main pro of the Kindle. It doesn’t try to be anything else. It’s a simple device for reading ebooks, and it accomplishes that task very well.
I did use the browser to access a text-only site where you can find free ebooks (the legal kind, ie. pre-1923 classics). All I had to do was click on the title and it was on my Kindle in under half a minute. Easy-peasy!
Reading on the Kindle.
The text is very crisp and easy on the eyes. When reading the reviews, I didn’t really buy into all the “It’s just like paper!” hype, but… it’s just like paper! Okay, well, it’s not but it’s very close. I barely notice that I’m reading off a screen. It feels very non-intrusive and simple. I love my crisp MacBook Pro screen but I can’t stare at it for hours. The Kindle’s screen isn’t backlit, so it’s much easier to look at for longer periods of time. You do need to turn on a light to read, as you would a normal book. Personally, I’m very impressed with the E-ink technology.
You can adjust the text size on the Kindle but only in certain documents. For ebooks that you buy from Amazon or download for free, this is no problem. For PDFs, the white margins are cut out to maximize viewing, but you can’t zoom in on a document or change the text. So if your PDF has small font, it will be nearly impossible to read comfortably.
One of the many Kindle screensavers when you put it in sleep mode.
I used to be against the idea of ebooks, but that was a long time ago. There are many pros and cons to digitalization, but I want to look forward rather than back. Let’s look forward cautiously though, as I don’t want my Kindle to one day become a killer robot.
I think more work needs to be done on creating an effective and safe work environment for authors and publishers if ebooks are to take over paper books. I also think that the Kindle needs some work. Models will only continue to improve, and the release of the iPad will help with that.
When I think of what the Kindle can do for my own lifestyle, it’s pretty exciting. I’m an avid reader, so the idea of bringing a Kindle along on a two week vacation is more attractive than packing five or six books. I’m currently reading The Children’s Book by A.S. Byatt but it’s so big that I can’t take it anywhere. If I had it on the Kindle, I’d probably be finished by now. I’m looking forward to making room in my school bag by carrying the Kindle to campus instead of other books. The convenience factor is a big plus.
When all is said and done, I love reading, plain and simple. The process of reading by paper or electronically currently doesn’t matter to me. Exploring new options doesn’t mean dismissing my old paper copies. Just give me a good story!