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November 24, 2007

Kindle ebook weekend update

Kindle2 I promised I would do an update after getting some experience with my new Amazon Kindle.  After only a few days, it's pretty clear to me that I won't be buying many more books of the paper and cardboard variety. 

Before you write me off as a techie who doesn't get how important real books are let me say that I love books.  If I had to choose between technology and books, I'd probably choose books.  And I have a lot of books - I'm going to guess I have about 2,000 books between my bookshelves at home and work.  I'll always love the books that where mine as a child, and books that were my dad's as a child.  I even have some of my grandfather's books.  No amount of electronics will ever replace them, so I get that paper-based book are important.

I also love the random books that fall in my hands when I'm traveling, or that friends give me because they know that I will want to read them.

So I love books, but mostly I love reading.  I love the way that I can escape, and learn, and focus, and create my own pictures.  And it turns out, I can do that without paper.  After having spent a long weekend with my new Kindle, I just went and deleted all the books on my amazon wishlist that are available for the Kindle, but not before having Amazon send me a free sample of each to my Kindle.  My iPod, and then my Zune and most recently my Zune Pass changed how I listen to music, and now I'm certain that the Kindle is going to change how I read.

The think I like most about it is that it just works.  Right out of the box, with only a few minutes looking at the user's manual and NO setup, and I was comfortable.  Since Wednesday, I've read a novel and started a second, I've read copies of the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and the Seattle Times, and I've listened to the first part of an Audible audio book while sorting laundry.

I've read the Kindle everywhere I'd read a paper book.  This afternoon I took it outside into the bright Colorado sunshine and compared the display to a paper book.  The Kindle was easier on my eyes.  When the light is low, I just make the font a bit bigger.  When it's dark, I clip my book light onto the leather cover that came with the Kindle and the experience is even better than with a paper book.  With a paper book, I'm always having to readjust the book light as it moves every time I turn the page.  With the Kindle, I just touch a button and I'm silently on to the next page.  One criticism of the Kindle is that the display is not back-lit, but they were trying to duplicate paper and I think they made the right call.  I don't feel any fatigue from reading it, whether it is in bright sunshine or total darkness with a book light clipped on the cover.

While you don't even need a computer to use the Kindle, and you can buy a book or magazine without a computer connection, you can connect it if you want and manually copy over any documents or unprotected ebooks that you already own.  As a test, I went to the gutenberg.org web page and downloaded a Mark Twain book (it's public domain now and free) and I had no trouble saving it to the Kindle.  It occurred to me that I could also save music lyrics to the Kindle too, and that worked just fine.

I've been working on writing a book of my own for about five years.  OK, I haven't been working very hard at it, but this just might get me going again.  Amazon makes it easy to publish for the Kindle and this might be the perfect format, or at least an interesting option for me.

So, what could be better?  At $399, it's not cheap.  It's new though and I imagine the price will come down.  eBooks are about half the cost or less of printed books, so in time I might make it back.  I haven't dropped it yet, but it feels like it might break if I dropped it on to a hard floor.  I was at a friend's house last night, and a good friend who loves books wouldn't touch it because she was afraid she might break it.  It hasn't hung or done anything strange since I first turned it on and the (free) high-speed wireless connection has always been there when I needed it.  I've found more than enough books that are available for the Kindle to keep me occupied, though it's a small fraction of the books in print.  This will change though, and I imagine most new books will be available electronically.

My first review was picked up by thekindleblog.com, and they seem to be collecting reviews, so check them out.  Or as I've already told a couple of my techie/bookie friends - just buy it.

November 24, 2007 in Books, Web/Tech | Permalink

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