10.19.2008

Kindle- not today

So no update in a while since the semester is in full swing.
I was able to finish The Story of Edgar Sawtelle on the Kindle. I found the experience about the same as reading a book. The awkwardness of holding a 1000 page tome was equal to holding a device that kept flipping forward a page based on the placement of the buttons. So it's a tie between the p-book and the e-book reader. The look on the screen was about the same as on a printed page. No feeling of fatigue like reading off a computer screen. It's pretty much the same experience between both types of books. I'll say this, the Kindle's dictionary was one of those extra bonuses I looked forward to, but I found it lacking. Edgar Sawtelle has several sections in the book that focus on etymology, and the built-in dictionary failed to define several of the words. Again I find the two types equal since the slim advantage of having a built-in dictionary is offset by the frustration of spending the time looking up words that aren't available and still having to go to another dictionary.

So my reading experience on the Kindle was pretty much the same as reading a printed book. That makes the Kindle=fail. For $450 $359 (ed: see correction to price in comments below) plus the cost of books, the Kindle needs to offer more. Is the fact that you don't have to physically carry around books worth $450? Other than the benefit of not having to haul physical books, I don't see any compelling reason to use a Kindle.

3 Comments:

Blogger Karen in TN said...

It costs $360, not $450 (it was only 399 at launch). Plus you save about $8-$10 per book you purchase on it (compared to Amazon's prices, even more if you buy at retail), if you normally buy hardbacks (and reading Sawtelle, that purchase puts you in that group), less per book if you are the type that waits for the paperback (still a dollar or two each). Not to mention the free books available or the gas money saved from skipping trips to the bookstore (not a factor for all, it is here, where a cross town trip is required and takes a couple of gallons of gas, while in some areas of the country it can be a hour drive each way ... although they do, of course, get amazon delivered there as well). And on the Kindle, you can carry all those books in your to-be-read pile (with an SD card, probably every book you have ever purchased) along with you, so when you finish that first 1,000 page tome, you can pick anything at all to start reading (without needing a backpack to hold the weight). The size and weight is also an issue to anyone traveling: even by car or RV, weight and space can be put to a better use and by air you can pay more for your second (and heavy) bag than the books cost to begin with.

As to the buttons - yes, you can press them by accident. Most quickly learn to pick it up and hold it near (or on) the keyboard and put it to sleep before setting it down (which means it doesn't matter what you bump picking it up). On the other hand, those easy keys also mean it is much easier to use in bed, while eating or for many that have mobility issues (many of whom can't hold a book at all).

10:12 AM  
Blogger john said...

You're right the cost of the reader is $360 not $450 I've corrected it in the post. AS far as the cost breakdown, I've always considered the $8- $10 savings an introductory offer and that a lot of books will go back to full price someday (this depends on the publishers who set the prices). If you want to introduce the cost of gas or shipping into the equation, you also have to add in the cost of the reader. If you only have 10 e-books for your reader, you need to add an additional $36 for the cost of the reader to the cost of the book (again that's if you're using the argument that the cost of gas should be considered when thinking about print books).

If you are someone so inclined to carry around 10-15 books at a time, I agree the Kindle is wonderful, but I rarely carry around more than a book at a time so the benefits you mention aren't really benefits for me.

I agree this device has an audience and fills a few niches for specialized delivery of information. If you don't have to carry around a smartphone and you don't need to manage your mp3 library and all you're really going to do is travel and read e-books, the Kindle fits the bill nicely.

I follow Alton Brown's maxim that a device really needs to have more than one use in order for me to really like it and I don't see the Kindle being that useful for my needs.

11:16 AM  
Blogger craige said...

I can't see its use at this point unless to have it to take on trips.

I was standing next to a guy on the train this morning who was reading a Kindle and I asked him how he likes it. He says he does, mainly because it allowed him to get rid of all the books in his apartment. Who says you have to keep all the books you have accumlated in your apartment? You don't need a Kindle to justify downsizing your bookshelves.

And, finally, I rarely buy books new. I know, I know. But it's the truth. I pay no more than $4 or so for any book, hard or soft cover.

11:51 PM  

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