I love gadgets. So this new ebook reader–the Kindle by Amazon.com–is on my radar. It looks like the kind of gadget I’d love to have–were it not for the price tag. At $399 US for the ebook reader alone, it’s way too pricey for me. But that doesn’t stop me looking at it longingly on the screen. 🙂
There are some things to love about the Kindle . There are also some things to dislike.
Things to Like:
- The screen is highly readable, like paper, and has no glare (and is not backlit) so you can easily read it outdoors (or indoors, as you would a book). It uses the same digital ink technology as the Sony Reader.There are six different font sizes; you can select the one that works best for you.
- You don’t need a computer to download or buy books, and it’s very easy to buy and download them. The Kindle uses the same wireless technology that cell phones use to get online, so you never have to find a WI-FI spot. You don’t have to fiddle with anything or be connected to your PC to get online, and you don’t have to pay to get online. Some users will really like this.
- Some of the prices of ebooks are fantastic, like Philip Pullman’s the Golden Compass for 3.19. That’s the price i think ebooks should all be. Not all their older books are so inexpensive, though. Christopher Paolini’s Eragon: Inheritance is $6.99, which seems overpriced for an ebook.
- A copy of every book you purchase is backed up online in case you ever need to download it again.
- You can read samples of ebooks before you decide whether or not to buy.
- It has a long battery life; if the WI-FI is turned off you can read books for a week before having to recharge it. If the WI-FI is turned on, you’ll need to recharge every other day.
- The design is supposed to be ergonomic, so that you can read and turn pages easily from any position, and so that both right-handed and left-handed people can easily turn the pages.
- It can store 200 book titles.
- It has a built-in dictionary, and you can also look things up online at Wikipedia.org.
- The size and weight of the Kindle seems pretty good–10.3 ounces–the size and weight of a paperback book–yet you can carry around hundreds of ebooks. That’s great for traveling.
- It has a bookmark feature which you can also use to add annotations to the text, and you can export your notes. The Kindle automatically opens your ebook to the last page you were reading.
- Besides eBooks, you can also read newspapers, magazines, and blogs on the Kindle (which you also have to pay to read). The prices of the magazines look great, many at about $1.50 each, though there are only eight so far.
- You can also listen to audiobooks and MP3s on the Kindle.
- The Kindle has a basic web browser.
Things Not To Like
- The price. $399. US is way too expensive for an ebook reader. You can buy a heck of a lot of books for $399. I’d love to!
- The screen is only about 3/4 of the total size. Visually, I think the screen should be larger and take up most of the room of the eBook reader. The screen is also only greyscale; some users might prefer some color.
- The keyboard takes up a lot of room–about a quarter–looks ungainly, and is only in QWERTY layout (what about all of us DVORAK layout users?). I’d rather there wasn’t a keyboard at all, though I understand its usefulness. (Why not a tablet with a pen?).
- The Kindle is proprietary; you can only read Amazon.com Kindle ebooks on it, which means you’re limited to only buying ebooks from them. You can read a few other types of documents on it (such as unprotected MS Word documents) but ONLY if you pay a fee to email the converted versions to yourself. Why should you have to pay a fee to be able to read your own documents? And what about people who have purchased eBooks in other formats? There are already a number of ebook formats around. Why couldn’t they have used one of those?
- It’s not aesthetically pleasing. That may not matter for many readers, but it will for some.
- Most newer books, such as Stephenie Meyer’s Eclipse, are $9.99. Why would I pay $9.99 for an ebook that’s just digital, when i can buy the paperback when it comes out for about that, or hold the hardcover in my hands? Want me as a frequent buyer of ebooks? Price them cheaply. Because they’re an adjunct to my library, not a replacement. eBook readers are a great idea for carting around a bunch of books at once, like when you’re on vacation. But I’m sticking with my beautiful paper books.
- There aren’t a lot of children’s or YA kindle ebooks available yet. There are 1,184. This sounds like a lot, but it’s really not, not with all the wonderful books out there. So right now your reading choices are somewhat limited (though I’m sure, if the Kindle is popular, this will change). And they’re all lumped together under “children’s chapter books.” That’s a mistake, Amazon. What teen reader wants to click on “children’s chapter books”? Still, those things can be easily rectified.
- There’s not enough storage. If you use the Kindle as an MP3 player as well, you will quickly use all the space; just a few albums or audiobooks and many ebooks, and it will be full.
- It probably doesn’t work in Canada, yet, at least not to purchase and download the ebooks directly onto the Kindle (though I suppose you could via your regular internet connection), and it also isn’t yet shipping to Canada or anywhere else except the US. Don’t like in the US? You’re out of luck.
Amazon.com and other ebook reader companies want to replace books. It isn’t going to happen, at least not for me. I usually read and purchase ebooks that I already have in actual book form, and if I find an ebook that I love that I don’t have as a book, I run out and buy the book. I love holding a book, how easy it is to turn the pages, to flip back and forth to any page i want, etc. I love the feel and smell of the pages. The way you don’t have to fiddle with any technology, or recharge a battery, or turn it on. Yet I also love gadgets, and being able to carry many books around with me at once, and if the Kindle is as readable as reviews say, it will be on my wishlist–as an adjunct to my regular books.