Tuesday, December 29, 2009



I was Kindled for Christmas. Apparently, I wasn’t alone as Amazon has announced the Kindle is officially the most gifted item in Amazon history. Furthermore, on Christmas day, Amazon customers, for the first time ever, purchased more Kindle books than physical books.

This isn’t surprising – obviously the result of everyone, like me, who got a Kindle for Christmas firing it up and ordering a bunch of eBooks on a day in which most physical-book readers weren't shopping. While it isn’t surprising, however, it's still important and impressive – despite reports Amazon loses upward of one dollar on every Kindle unit sold, clearly e-books and e-readers are here to stay.

While I will never not buy and read physical books, there is definitely a place in my life for the Kindle and the options it offers me. The thought of not having to drag a bushel of books around with me whenever I travel or go on vacation is delightful. When you plow through a book a day on a two week vacation, that’s a lot of books to carry around.

The one caveat to the above paragraph is that much of what I choose to read is not available in a Kindle version. I read very few bestsellers – the largest market for Kindle – and Kindle’s coverage of my favorite authors’ books is spotty (but growing). All this means is I’ll have be happy on vacation with what my Kindle can offer or also take along several books.

Being paranoid when it comes to the fear of being without a book, I will probably always take at least a couple of physical books along in case my Kindle fails, runs out of battery, or is lost. Still, like listening to books on CD (which I really enjoy), my Kindle is already indispensible to my reading Jones.

As to the device itself, the news is mostly good. It’s lightweight and very easy to read. Purchasing books is simple with fast delivery. I thought it was very cool to be able to take the PDF file of an old pulp novel, send it to my individual Kindle e-mail, and have it send to my Kindle for reading (for a 15 cent fee). The next page and previous page functions are well designed in their placement and work smoothly. Page transitions are slightly more disruptive at first that the pause to turn a traditional book page, but this is changing with use. Bookmarking, highlighting, and annotating functions are easy to use and functional. I’ve yet to experinment with the Kindle’s text reading function.

On the downside, Kindle needs to get rid of the little toggle button used for navigation and get with the 21st century by adopting touch screen technology. Organizing of titles on the Kindle also could be made much easier. A file for books you’re not currently reading, and the ability to categorize your chosen titles would both be good additions. The Kindle keyboard is simply functional and should be upgraded to employ a softer touch to add a classier feel to the overall package.

I have no doubt some of these things are in the mix for future versions, along with the ability to download and listen to audio books on your Kindle, and access to the Internet via your Kindle. When those things are available, I’ll upgrade, but for now, I’m delighted with my new toy and happy with its functionality.

1 comment:

Bill Crider said...

I got one, too. I haven't figured out how to send the .pdf file and get it converted yet, but I've downloaded some great SF for free at the Baen site, and I've picked up a few free classics at Amazon. It'll never replace books for me, but it's a great little gadget.