Rediscovering reading with the Kindle

Today, I finished my first book in a long, long time… probably years: On Writing by Stephen King. While King was one of my favorite writers when I was a teenager—I remember finishing The Stand under the glow of my nightstand lamp, perspiration making the bedsheets cling to my legs—it wasn’t On Writing that brought about this renewed literary interest, but the medium on which it was presented.

That medium was, of course, Amazon’s Kindle e-reader.

I ordered the Kindle on Sunday evening and, shortly after a visit from the UPS man on Tuesday, downloaded On Writing as a nod to both my teenage infatuation with the author and my present career. Mainly, though, I just wanted to read a whole book on this thing to see if I could pull it off, or if I’d lose interest a third of the way through like I’d done so many times recently.

Those unfinished books on my bookshelves have been a source of continued embarrassment. As someone who writes quite a bit every day, my reading really shouldn’t be restricted to reviews, news posts, and the odd New Yorker article. As King himself points out, “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.” I’d been totally skimping on the first part for way too long, and it couldn’t go on.

Why the lack of interest in books, though? After mulling over the issue, I’ve decided to blame the Internet. I’m used to having nearly instant access to pretty much any content I want, you see. When a book catches my fancy, I must head to Amazon, place an order, and wait several days, sometimes weeks, before I can begin to read it. I’ve gone through the motions over and over again, and I seem to lose interest right around the time the order shows up at my door.

When I force myself to start reading anyway, the activity feels punishingly archaic, almost uncomfortable. I’ll sit, hunched over, stretching the book’s spine, slogging through sheets of dead tree thin enough to guess the words on the other side but still heavy enough to get uncomfortable when grasped for a few hours. If my eyes get tired, too bad—the type is set. Then, when I leave home for more than a few hours, I have to remember to stuff the right paperback in my carry-on. When I leave home for good, as I’ve had to do, oh, a good four times in the past six years, I must heave densely packed cartons marked “BOOKS” from place to place.

The contents of those cartons migrate from apartment to apartment, from bookshelf to bookshelf, gathering dust along the way. They sit on those bookshelves because having books sitting on bookshelves seems like a proper thing for someone to have. My dad’s two-bedroom house is packed to the gills with books, many of which probably haven’t been opened since the 70s. Part of me wants to replicate that collection, until I realize all the other media I consume—media that requires far more effort to turn into ones and zeros—is migrating to hard drives and the cloud.

The Kindle may be my chance at redemption. On Tuesday, I started reading again in a way that makes sense to me, a way that allows me to read whatever I want, whenever I want to read it, without having to deal with those bookshelves and those cartons. (In case you’re wondering, most of my paperbacks have now traveled over 5,000 miles each as I’ve moved from Scotland to France, then to British Columbia.)

Amazon’s famed e-book reader didn’t turn out to be quite the panacea I had hoped, but it certainly feels like a big step forward. The Wi-Fi version I got only set me back about $165 after shipping and taxes, and it has enough storage capacity for all the books I’ll probably ever own. Those books are stored in the cloud, too, so I can read them on my iPhone, on my desktop PC, on my MacBook, and on any future Kindle devices. I can even lend my e-books to friends—and those friends don’t have to live anywhere near western Canada.

The Kindle itself feels thin, compact, and shockingly light, like it’s inviting you to take it outside the house. An e-ink display makes the Kindle usable in just about any setting, provided there’s a light source nearby. I do wish there was a display backlight for those late-night reading marathons, but that would surely take away from the rated battery life of one month with wireless networking off. If I had really wanted a backlit screen, I probably would’ve bought an iPad; but I don’t want to have to seek out a power outlet or a USB port every few hours. That, and the iPad is too bulky and heavy to read in bed, plus its screen has a lower pixel density and is less comfortable to stare at for hours on end. Oh, and it costs $500.

The Kindle is a better e-book reader than the iPad, no doubt, but if Steve Jobs and Jony Ive had designed the thing, it would also be a better Kindle. There would be more room to hold the device around the screen. The keyboard might not be there, and if it were, it probably wouldn’t have an inexplicably misaligned bottom row sure to frustrate any seasoned typist. (Did you try to type in Ernest Hemingway? Sorry, here’s a blank page showing no matches for Ermest He.imgway.) There wouldn’t be back and forward buttons on both sides. (I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried going back a page by hitting the left “forward” button.) I expect the typesetting would have some hyphenation going on, because unhyphenated justified paragraphs can be downright ugly unless you enjoy rivers of white space. The on-screen user interface would probably seem less klunky. And the device wouldn’t feel the need to remind you that it is, in fact, an Amazon Kindle with that big logo right above the screen.

In many ways, the Kindle looks like a device that might have come out in the mid-90s. It has that sort of smooth, rounded graphite finish and monochrome display that reminds me of Apple’s first PowerBooks. The default typeface, Caecilia, was designed in 1990 and would look right at home in an early issue of Wired magazine. The sluggish, low-tech user interface completes the picture. All I need to do is load up The Silence of the Lambs, put on Nirvana’s Nevermind, and it’ll be like the dot-com bubble never burst.

I’m already loving this thing, though. As a workaholic with no social life, I’ve spent many Sunday afternoons sitting at my computer re-watching old Arrested Development episodes, wondering what else to do with my time. Now, I expect I’ll spend that time reading—surely a better use for a Sunday afternoon. When the summer comes, I’ll take the Kindle to the park or the beach and read there, far away from my home office and the boxes, PC components, and FedEx shipping receipts that populate it. I’ll take it on flights to trade shows, too. I might lose it along the way, but that’s okay; my address is in the settings screen, and even if nobody returns it, I can just buy another one and have all my purchases automatically synced to it.

With On Writing finished, I’ve already purchased and downloaded my next book: Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, a classic I never had the chance to read even when I wasn’t completely spoiled by the Internet. It cost $3.75 and it’s now mine wherever I happen to be. All I need is my Amazon account password.

Comments closed
    • jcw122
    • 9 years ago

    I usually just “rediscover” reading with a new (or used) book…screw e-readers.

    • ShadowTiger
    • 9 years ago

    Books are overpriced… maybe if there was a Netflix streaming type of service for books where I can just read any book I want for $5/month then I would be more enthusiastic.

      • swaaye
      • 9 years ago

      Public library + Overdrive perhaps.

    • Chrispy_
    • 9 years ago

    Hopefully it’s different in the US, but in the UK the cost of ebooks for the kindle is [i<]at best[/i<] the same as the paperback, and typically 50% [i<]more[/i<] expensive. I know there are loads of free books, but if I want to read books from authors I have started to follow and return to, I shouldn't have to pay for the electronic copy when it has such low overheads compared to the hard copy.

      • Usacomp2k3
      • 9 years ago

      I’ve heard that the price differential is shrinking, and for many new books, is actually cheaper on the ebook than a new hardcover.

        • paulWTAMU
        • 9 years ago

        I can handle near price parity (proof readers, marketing, editors, are all still expensive) but damned if I’m paying more for a non physical good. I don’t mind paying nearly as much in this case–like a buck 6 dollars vs 7 maybe, but I’m not paying the same.

    • liquid_mage
    • 9 years ago

    Two things i’ve noticed:

    1. I agree with others, $150+ for something that only serves as a reader is too much.

    2. You have to turn it off while planes taxi, take-off, and land, this can take 15+ minutes. Meanwhile I can still read a regular book.

      • MuParadigm
      • 9 years ago

      $150 IS too much for an e-reader. I just bought a new Kobo Wireless last week for $60, from one of the Border’s that are having Going Out Of Business sales.

      • packfan_dave
      • 9 years ago

      If you go through two or three novels a month, it’s not too expensive (heck, the $220-ish I paid for my Kindle 2 wasn’t too expensive, given how much I read). I can’t imagine a heavy reader not having an e-reader of some type now.

        • Usacomp2k3
        • 9 years ago

        Actually the more you read the more expensive it is due to the lack of used book market.

    • clone
    • 9 years ago

    no interest in Kindle, a dedicated electronic device for $140 that can only read books…. is backwards in a day and age where the cell phone can surf the web, suggest restaurants, tell me the weather, give me directions, play music, any music I choose and sooner than later will be showing movies if not offering television broadcasts live as well.

    I like to read, I like having books, I just like them, an e-reader IMHO only makes sense in a 1 dimensional world and only if the price drops huge, if I want books for cheap I trade in the ones I have only keeping the really good ones.

    P.S. I used to read Stephen King novels, the Stand, It, Tommy knockers, Pet Cemetery but the Dark Tower series aarrgh, I just couldn’t do it, so much detail in his novels, I remember going through “It” and skipping sections detailing how the ppl of the town had become oblivious to atrocity…. so much time wasted on the townsfolk and examples of actrocity, who cares they aren’t pivotal, I read the extended version of The Stand which was agony, still have both won’t read either ever again.

    • moog
    • 9 years ago

    I think most people use the public library. Books are free and you can return them to your library before you move.

    Maybe the kindle is different but reading print is much easier for me. When I really want to learn something, I print it out. I will actually recall the image of the text or drawing on paper, I can’t really do this with screens (unless the black-white screen of the Kindle helps with that). The physical act of shuffling through pages probably helps me to commit things to memory too. I bet the physical feel of the bedsheets clinging to your sweaty legs also helps you remember parts of The Stand. Reading it on a Kindle/ipad will probably not help you with your inability to complete more than a third of a book either.

    “Sheets of dead tree” eh?

    I would argue the opposite, that reading books on Kindle/ipad harms the planet more than reading it on print. Manufacturing an electronic device and batteries (replacements) and eventually discarding it every 3 yrs for the next gen device is environmentally destructive (think of material acquisition, energy consumed in industrial processes, toxic materials involved). Using/charging the device also has an environmental cost. Consider you’re actually razing areas to acquire coal/gas/etc. and then burning it in order to recharge your devices.

      • KoolAidMan
      • 9 years ago

      There is no “maybe”. E-paper is completely different from an LCD. E-paper is opaque and the pixels are physical pieces, not colored filters with a giant backlight behind it.

      Think of the Kindle like a super high tech Etch-A-Sketch. That’s a much closer comparison than an LCD. You should check out an e-reader in person when you get a chance. The first time I saw a Sony reader in a store I thought it was just a hollow display unit with a piece of paper slipped inside to show what it would look like if it was a working model.

      I messed around with buttons and then all of a sudden the screen changed, turns out [i<]was[/i<] a working model, that's when I saw what the big deal was about. 🙂

    • Noigel
    • 9 years ago

    Around the time I bought a Kindle I turned my nose up at the “Kindle For…” apps thinking ‘why would I want my Kindle books on *this device* or *that device*’? And then I bought some programming and non-fiction instructional books. Gotta say getting those books onto a PC (and a Mac) have been pretty nice.

    I can read ahead on the Kindle when I’m away from a computer and then when it gets to the nuts and bolts and actually learning by example putting it up on a bigger screen helps.

    Glad you’re liking it. 🙂

    • eitje
    • 9 years ago

    I’ve wondered with all eReaders – if I want to compare content from two different chapters that could be hundreds of pages apart from one another, how does that work?

      • bthylafh
      • 9 years ago

      The Kindle’s got a search function that shows your search term plus a bit of context. It shows a few results per page, and you can jump to a section from there.

        • Cyril
        • 9 years ago

        And if you want to go back and forth between two sections repeatedly, you can always use bookmarks.

    • OhYeah
    • 9 years ago

    “When a book catches my fancy, I must head to Amazon, place an order, and wait several days, sometimes weeks, before I can begin to read it. I’ve gone through the motions over and over again, and I seem to lose interest right around the time the order shows up at my door.”

    There are things called a “book store”, at least here in Estonia, where I live. In fact there are three extremely big stores just a 4-5 minute walk from my apartment: I could spend a month in there camping, and I’d still find new exciting stuff to read (plus a several shops dealing with used books).

    Maybe it’s just me and the way I was brought up. I was surrounded by books as I child. When I lived with my parents we had a huge book shelf, literally from the ground to the ceiling. When I went to my grandparents’ home, it was the same thing: book after book of adventure stories, old-school sci-fi, encyclopedias, travel stories etc. Deep in the soviet times that was my way of discovering the world.

    There is no way a stupid piece of plastic could ever triumph over the charm of actually holding a book, not where I come from. Sure, for some it might be a nice toy. One that breaks if you drop it, or runs out of juice at the most crucial moment. I sound like a bitter old man, don’t I?

    Someone said “buy kindle and save a tree”. Well, in civilized nations there are at least the same amount of new trees planted in place of those that were cut down to produce paper. In many cases *more* trees are planted. Furthermore, when I buy a book a share of the profits go to the people who translated it, designed the book, the print shop that produced the book and finally to the book store that sold it to me.

      • Corrado
      • 9 years ago

      Where as with a Kindle book, the author can get 70% of that purchase price, instead of the 10-20% if you buy a paper book.

        • thanatos355
        • 9 years ago

        Do you honestly believe that’s the case? Do you honestly believe that the publishers are going to just hand over that much more of a percentage to the authors just because it’s in a digital format? Unless they are a: an independent publisher that’s focusing on digital media or b: an independent author that’s self publishing mostly/entirely in digital media in order to build a fan base, I just don’t see it happening.

          • Corrado
          • 9 years ago

          No, I don’t believe the PUBLISHERS will. Thats why they’re not needed. Just like record publishers are growing increasingly unneeded. If I can write a book, and put it on Amazon. Theres plenty of reports out there of people that write a 100 page book, sell it on Amazon for $3-4 and make $100K in 6 months.

            • bthylafh
            • 9 years ago

            It’s interesting, isn’t it, how simple things seem to the ignorant.

            For your edification: [url<]http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/2010/04/common-misconceptions-about-pu-1.html[/url<] [url<]http://whatever.scalzi.com/2011/03/20/the-electronic-publishing-bingo-card/[/url<]

            • OhYeah
            • 9 years ago

            Thanks, that’s very interesting to read!

            • Corrado
            • 9 years ago

            Interesting, yes, but neither of this links refutes that people make money self-publishing.

            [url<]http://leegoldberg.typepad.com/a_writers_life/2010/05/on-joe-konraths-blog-author-boyd-morrison-shares-the-amazing-story-of-how-he-turned-his-kindle-ebooks-into-a-four-book-pr.html[/url<] This guy couldn't get his out-of-print books republished. He put it on Amazon and made $18K ($55K after the new royalty program) in 1 year. And why simply dismiss JA Konrath and Amanda Hocking? Because they don't support your argument? The point is that previous to the Kindle, you HAD to go through a traditional publisher, get them into stores, and you got 10-12% if you're lucky. Now, ANYONE can get their writing published, just like iTunes where anyone can publish their own music that otherwise wouldn't have been heard. Theres no need for lawyers, contracts, agents, publicists, etc. You write it, you ship it to Amazon and that would be all you need to do. Granted, that lacks marketing, but if someone is into books in the same genre or subject and searches on Amazon for it, it will come up. If its cheap enough, and the book is good enough with proper reviews, people will buy it.

            • bthylafh
            • 9 years ago

            The point is that a manuscript is different from an actual book. At the very /least/, you need copy editors and proofreaders, and you want business people to handle their end.

            Also, you might want to read about the concept of statistical outliers. Your Konrath and Hocking are examples.

            • OhYeah
            • 9 years ago

            And sometimes, everyone NOT being able to get their writings published is a good thing.

            • Corrado
            • 9 years ago

            Why not? Just cuz its there doesn’t mean you have to read it. Its not like a book store where it takes up physical space. If its garbage, a few people will buy it and realize its garbage and review it as such. I think Twilight is garbage, but apparently I’m in the minority on that. There plenty of terrible movies and music made that people like. Why not let these people have their dream?

            • paulWTAMU
            • 9 years ago

            because crushing dreams and shattering hopes is fun?

    • crsh1976
    • 9 years ago

    As the owner of both a Kindle 3 and an iPad (first gen), I definitely agree that the iPad doesn’t even come close to the Kindle as an ebook reader.

    This thing positively changed how much I read, given I typically spend 35-45 minutes in the subway on my way to work in the morning, the Kindle’s weight and size are much more practical than the iPad’s (yes I know, apples and oranges, the Kindle isn’t a full-fledge tablet, we’re talking about reading here).

    The lack of a backlight hasn’t been much of an issue for me, I’m just grateful I don’t need to come up with new shelving schemes to somehow fit all the printed books somewhere anymore.

    • liquidsquid
    • 9 years ago

    Being we have shelf after shelf of books at home, the e-readers are the way to go to reduce the clutter. I still will buy a physical book such as Robert Jordan, or a reference book that requires pictures (bug guides and such) but for Harry Dresden and sci-fi, e-books are perfect.

    Plus I am all into saving trees, being a tree nut.

      • paulWTAMU
      • 9 years ago

      yay Dresden!
      I like the idea of ebooks but the ebooks themselves are too expensive still, at least for mainstream ones, and the format limits the use for things like guides and the like 🙁

      • esc_in_ks
      • 9 years ago

      I think your comment is really worth underscoring. When friends ask me how I like the Kindle, I say it’s great for books that don’t have the following three qualities:

      1. They don’t have pictures. Image formatting on the Kindle depends highly on the publisher that did the conversion. Some books look downright crappy, and the best I’ve ever seen is just passable.

      2. You want to read from front to back. Mostly, that means fiction books. Things like reference books just never feel right to me. You know where you want to go is halfway through the book, and then narrow in to that exact page based on visual cues like figures or diagrams. it takes you tons of keypresses to even begin to try to do the same thing on Kindle.

      3. Don’t try to read technical books on it. Any book with things like code samples or diagrams tends to be completely screwed up in the process. I’ve tried some O’Reilly and Addison Wesley books on Kindle and came away unsatisfied for the most part.

      But, for fiction books, I love it. I spend 30% of my life on business travel, and it’s great to be able to take a handful of books with me without sacrificing all of my carry-on space. I also use it at the gym and am able to read books while doing cardio that I wouldn’t have been able to read otherwise because of their format (like paperback books which require you to hold them while you read).

    • KoolAidMan
    • 9 years ago

    I’m surprised to see so much negativity here.

    The Kindle is my favorite tech gadget in years. I travel for work often and this thing is a godsend. Two books used to be the heaviest thing in my carry-on luggage, even heavier and bulkier than my laptop. Now I carry dozens of books in a light piece of plastic that is thinner than an iPhone 4. The battery also lasts forever, a month on a charge no problem. As far as e-ink readers go, it is lighter, thinner, and with a better screen than competing readers like the Nook and Sony’s.

    Great hardware aside, Amazon also nailed it with their cloud syncing services. Farthest page read, highlights, bookmarks, notes, all of these things are synchronized so if I decide to pick up from where I left off on another device (iPhone, iPad, PC/Mac, another Kindle), it’s all there. Amazon’s execution was so good with this thing.

    • Voldenuit
    • 9 years ago

    Let’s see.

    DRM, vendor lock and remote killswitches on your existing (paid) digital downloads?

    No thanks, Amazon.

    • oldDummy
    • 9 years ago

    My wife has the large Kindle. While in Europe it was our only internet object during travel so the beta web browser got a workout.
    Buy a kindle and save a tree.

    • Usacomp2k3
    • 9 years ago

    Until I can buy used ebooks, I’m not interested. We buy probably 100 books/year at an average of $0.65 a piece, and that would be a huge chunk of the budget. Plus I like having the physical book. Maybe that’s just me. I like closing the book with my finger in the current page and seeing how much I have left. I’m just a tactile guy I guess. I also don’t find it a problem to throw a couple books in the bag when heading out.

      • David
      • 9 years ago

      Where do you get books for $0.65? Even the cheapest used books are usually a dollar around here. Besides that, Kindle copies of new releases are sometimes cheaper than even a used copy. At least that’s the case on any book I have ever been interested in. I see that may not be the case outside the U.S.

      We have shelves of books. My wife had no real interest in the Kindle because she’s tactile, too. She can’t imagine life without one now.

      Also, it’s absolutely, completely, thoroughly amazing for travel. I can’t tell you how many books we would have to pack for an extended trip if we didn’t have Kindles

        • Usacomp2k3
        • 9 years ago

        The Friends of the Library sale in Gainesville (purportedly the largest in the southeast) has hundreds of thousands of books on sale twice per year. We usually line up hours before opening on Saturday morning and make a good time of it. The most expensive (non-collector) book is like $2. They go down from there to $0.25. The last day, Wedn is ten cent day. A great way to stock one’s library.

        Regarding the travel, we’re not big travelers. Being gone for more than 3 days makes both my wife and I antsy and anxious to get home. I can understand how it might be useful for extended trips.

    • FerdJones
    • 9 years ago

    This past christmas I spent part of my bonus to get a B&N Nook, and couldn’t be happier. The biggest thing that kept me from getting the Kindle is the fact that my local library system does NOT support it. I can go to the library now, and if they have the ebook version of what I’d like to read now, I can get it that way. I used to be one of the most voracious readers; going through10-15 books a week was the norm when I was in elementary school on up. After getting out of the Navy in the early 90s, I slowed down a bit, and now I MIGHT read 1-2 books a year. The Nook has changed that. Since December I have read 27 books, have 3 more marked as new, and am contemplating purchasing quite a few more, as funds permit.

    My only “real” complaint about the Nook is that it is SLOW. It almost feels like it’s powered by an 8086 and trying to run Windows (heh, not really, but still). There is a noticeable delay in everything when you push the page turn buttons or use the color touchscreen.

    I am quite impressed with the e-ink display. When I go outside with my smartphone, even with its matte screen protector, I can’t really use it well when the sun is shining on it. The Nook, completely different story. Completely readable in full sunlight, and even really in direct sunlight. That and 2 weeks of not having to charge it (not as good as the Kindle’s battery life, but still, better than my HTC EVO by many orders of magnitude).

    Note: this post isn’t a knock against the Kindle, or completely FOR the Nook, but me trying to say that e-readers have helped me to start reading again.

    • kilkennycat
    • 9 years ago

    [quote<] After mulling over the issue, I've decided to blame the Internet. I'm used to having nearly instant access to pretty much any content I want, you see. When a book catches my fancy, I must head to Amazon, place an order, and wait several days, sometimes weeks, before I can begin to read it. I've gone through the motions over and over again, and I seem to lose interest right around the time the order shows up at my door. [/quote<] If you are in the US, sign up for Amazon Prime ~ $78/year. Free 2-day shipping, $3.99, one-day shipping and Amazon now throws in their video library for free. A great deal and a terrific "customer-hook".

    • SomeOtherGeek
    • 9 years ago

    Good write-up cuz I have one too! 😉 No seriously, it is the best thing that has happened to me. I used to read books with a magnifying glass cuz my eyes are so bad. Holding a book and that glass was tiring and I gave up reading. My awesome wife bought me one for my birthday and I have been hooked. Resizing fonts is the best thing ever even with the rivers of white space. And 3G, it is a one time deal and just freakin’ works!

    • uksnapper
    • 9 years ago

    books are great,no batteries needed,can be dropped from a great height onto concrete without impairing readability etc.
    I would never read a book on my PC let alone spend a lot of dosh on a product that will enable me to read a book I get for free from my library.In essence a gadget that no doubt has a future but is just that,a gadget

      • Ushio01
      • 9 years ago

      I have a Sony 505 bought in 08 I used it in september last year during a 2 week coach trip through Italy and still had a week’s charge left when I got back to the UK so trust me the battery issue isn’t an issue.

      You can also rent ebooks from some library’s or if you are truly unwilling to pay there’s torrents.

    • chriso11
    • 9 years ago

    You should also mention Project Gutenberg and Baen Books. I downloaded 10 free books so far and I haven’t paid a dime.

      • Dazrin
      • 9 years ago

      You can add these that have many free books too:

      [url<]http://www.smashwords.com/[/url<] [url<]http://www.feedbooks.com/[/url<] [url<]http://www.manybooks.net/[/url<] [url<]http://www.mobileread.com/forums/ebooks.php?order=desc&sort=dateline[/url<]

        • swampfox
        • 9 years ago

        Does anyone know how some of these work? I feel like I’ve downloaded a book or two for free that probably shouldn’t have been, which makes a little red light go off in the back of my head. How do they offer newish books for free?

          • Dazrin
          • 9 years ago

          Honestly, I don’t know much about most of those. There are enough on Amazon and project gutenberg to satisfy me. I did get those links from the stickies at a couple kindle forums, so I assume they are legit.

          I know I have gotten some legitimate free books by watching the kindleboards and mobileread forums (they both have free book threads) including one James Patterson book, so they do have promos fairly often for new books.

        • Forge
        • 9 years ago

        This. Also, use Calibre to organize/backup/sort/update your books. You can thank me later.

        [url<]http://calibre-ebook.com/[/url<]

    • HisDivineShadow
    • 9 years ago

    As the luster on your new device fades, so too will your luster on the idea of reading constantly. You’ll return to your laptop and your iOS device and you’ll watch old episodes of shows you’ve seen before because doing a passive activity like staring at a screen or doing a small activity like reading a forum post is a lot less of a commitment than starting and finishing a book.

    About then, you’ll wish that almost $200 had been put toward an iPad so you could at least watch those Arrested Development eps in bed on a rather thin iPad 2. More to the point, I’d say if you read more than 10 hours in a go, you probably DO need to take a break to let it recharge while YOU recharge…

      • thanatos355
      • 9 years ago

      You’ve never really been a reader, have you? I’ve read for almost all of my life (learned to read before Kindergarten) and I still love reading. I sometimes read all day and I constantly have a book on hand. My “iOS device” has made this even easier (thank you Calibre and Stanza) so that now I have an entire collection/small library of books to read at any time I want, since I always have my phone with me.

    • jackaroon
    • 9 years ago

    I think I’ve made a vaguer complaint before, but the rss feed generator mistakenly thought your valid utf-8 article was ISO-8859-1, and tried to convert it to what it had already been. For example, it took a perfectly good utf-8 3 byte em dash, and turned it into 3 nonsensical 2-byte utf-8 characters.

    • Meadows
    • 9 years ago

    Now *this* is actually a device that’s really useful.

    Unlike “slates”, such as Apple’s thing. Hmph.

      • Dazrin
      • 9 years ago

      I don’t know…I would like an iPad for my wife. With two kids (ages 3 and 6 mo) she doesn’t get much chance to sit in front of the computer, a tablet would be nice for her.

      I want a slate as well….the NoteSlate from a few weeks ago, but that is an entirely different device.

        • swampfox
        • 9 years ago

        I agree. The NoteSlate looked cool, but I haven’t seen any reviews of it yet.

    • bthylafh
    • 9 years ago

    I’d imagine they have forward/back buttons on both sides to accommodate lefties.

    I was just thinking that the worst part of having a Kindle is that shopping in a bookstore seems so [i<]quaint[/i<] now. On the other hand, maybe I want to have a book to share it with my daughter when she's old enough. On the gripping hand, who would have thought of cheap paperbacks as "heirlooms", as it were. It'd be nice if I could unilaterally transfer ownership of my e-book to her future reader, though, DRM be damned. I'm given to understand that Kindle DRM's been cracked, though.

      • Dazrin
      • 9 years ago

      I read on the light-rail trains here and depending on where I am standing I only use 1 hand to read with. Having both buttons on both sides let me hold it with either hand. I am very glad they have it this way. It does take some getting used to, but it was very quick for me.

      One note, for many people having a cover makes it easier to hold one handed. Having the kindle just a little thicker makes it see much more secure.

    • jpostel
    • 9 years ago

    Good article. I am debating either a Kindle or waiting on the HP TouchPad as I currently don’t read a lot outside.

    I am always a little taken aback when I find people that don’t read outside of what they need for work. I have read for pleasure as much as I could since I was a kid and it keeps me well rounded. I also use books to distract my brain from thinking about work while I am going to sleep.

    • philippe.carrier
    • 9 years ago

    If you were buying books and not finishing them, the problem isn’t the paper they’re printed on, it’s your selecton process! I have a kindle and still buy lots of paper books because I love turning the pages and want them on the shelf when I’m done. It’s still a great thing that these devices are getting people hooked on reading again.

      • thesmileman
      • 9 years ago

      Who the hell has space for books?

        • Usacomp2k3
        • 9 years ago

        Who doesn’t?

      • MadManOriginal
      • 9 years ago

      Exactly. The only thing stopping people from reading physical books is discipline and an attention span, not the physical medium itself. I’m becoming a luddite when it comes to some tech things and e-books is one of them. One nice thing about physical books is their robustness relative to e-readers, drop your kindle on to a hard surface and it might be kaput for example. There’s also the relaxed, nostalgic feeling of being able to curl up any where, any time, and disconnect from the frantic e-world. For me the convenience doesn’t outweigh these things. And finally as others have mentioned, for the cheapskates there are libraries (ok, there are library e-books too) and used books. Used e-books? Hah! No used books is the publishers’ wet dream.

        • nexxcat
        • 9 years ago

        As a person who’s lost many, many books to the gnomes who steal your things when you move, I welcome the Amazon overlords. A Kindle or two is far easier to move than the mountains of books I still have, and the Kindle doesn’t preclude me from curling up with it.

        One nice thing about a paper book, though, is the ability to read them during take-off and landing of a plane, but this is why I buy a magazine in the airport.

          • nanoflower
          • 9 years ago

          I tend to think they both have their value. For a book that you will probably only ever want to read once getting it in e-book form seems like an okay idea. But for books that are more likely to be read multiple times (for me it’s many of the Hugo/Nebula winners) or reference books buying them in physical form is the only way to go.

            • bthylafh
            • 9 years ago

            Why wouldn’t you want to read a given book more than once on an e-reader?

      • nanoflower
      • 9 years ago

      I tend to agree. There are some books that I bought because I felt I should have them but haven’t finished. Some I bought because it sounded interesting, others because I felt I should own. But probably 90% of the books I buy I finish. In fact there are many that I may read two or three times over the years.

    • thesmileman
    • 9 years ago

    my big issue with all ebook readers is the flashing. The rate as which I read (pretty fast) makes the flashing to reset the pixels breaks my flow.

      • codedivine
      • 9 years ago

      The newer e-readers (such as the newer Kindle discussed here, or the newer Sony readers) do less flashing. But I agree that this is still an issue.

      • KoolAidMan
      • 9 years ago

      It isn’t a problem with the current generation of readers like the Kindle 3. The 1st gen devices were noticeable, now it is really really quick. It’s easier IMHO to maintain a flow just clicking the “next page” button rather than turning pages.

    • thesmileman
    • 9 years ago

    I really enjoyed this article! I hope you continue to mix in some of these in.

    • PixelArmy
    • 9 years ago

    Shouldn’t “Ermest He.i[b<]n[/b<]gway" be "Ermest He.i[b<]m[/b<]gway"? *EDIT* Bold Syntax

      • Cyril
      • 9 years ago

      You get the idea. 😉

      (Fixed, thanks.)

        • no51
        • 9 years ago

        This. I can take A aligned with Q, but not Z.

    • indeego
    • 9 years ago

    And now the downsides,

    – DRM.
    – Lose your amazon account, lose your library.
    – Amazon has pulled books before, they’ll do it again. as in, they’ve remotely wiped books from people’s devices without any warning.
    – Price structure (Not really amazon’s fault, but the pricing structure will have to change, it’s absurd the electronic versions can cost more than paper versions.
    – Limitation of device. While the device does have more capability than books, it also feels seriously limited in what it *could* be. We live in a world of interactivity and the Intenet, to not tie these abilities into the e-book reading experience is also restricting what the reader takes away from the experience.
    – Supporting Amazon, which took down wikileaks for no legal reason, and therefore supports censorship.

    A great start, however.

    I still go to my library, check out 15 books or so for my family and myself every 2-3 weeks, and have been doing this for $0 for a decade now. But watching this space closely, it’s obviously the future.

      • Xylker
      • 9 years ago

      This is the FNT for today, right?

      One item that I would [i<]LOVE[/i<] to see is the buy a paper book, get the Kindle edition for "insert nominal fee here..." For tech books, that is (would be) a BIG deal.

        • thesmileman
        • 9 years ago

        They don’t have it work kindle but I do that for my “Rough cuts” where you get all the releases of a book before it is released in pdf including the final edition and you can pay a small amount more and get the final book in print as well. it is awesome because so many books are almost done 3-6 months before there release (I know there are exceptions) and you can get started early.

        • bthylafh
        • 9 years ago

        I would LOVE to have a way to turn in my paper books and get Kindle editions for a small fee. It’d free up a crapton of wall space.

          • swampfox
          • 9 years ago

          Agreed. That would be great. We sold a ton of books a couple years ago because we were moving (so we saved some amount of shipping money, in addition to the small change the used book store gave us), and then replaced a few on the Kindle when they were cheap.

      • Dazrin
      • 9 years ago

      I guess I can provide the rebuttal…

      – Many of their books by independent publishers are DRM free, or you can get books from other places that are DRM free. Any place that has PRC or MOBI formats works fine natively and if you get DRM free EPUB versions you can convert them easily with Calibre. If it really bugs you, it is supposed to be very easy to break the DRM (I haven’t done it, but…).
      – Kinda true, you can (and should) backup the books you get from Amazon on your own computer. But how often does this happen?
      – See above, if you backup they can’t remove it.I only know of 1 example (1984) where they removed it from the kindle and they have changed their policies about that.
      – Agreed, but you can get books from other places.Also, there are a lot of independent (self) publishers on Amazon that have good prices.
      – I like the limitation – I use it for reading, not for the other stuff – as a reader it is great.
      – Meh. They took them down for a business reason and didn’t do it illegally. Just opinion on this one.

      And to add a huge plus – Kindle Customer Support is awesome! No questions asked refunds for 7 days if you regret a purchase, very willing to replace hardware for even accidental damage, etc.

      • swampfox
      • 9 years ago

      I love that libraries are offering ebooks and audio books, so you can do something akin to using a Kindle via your library.

        • dashbarron
        • 9 years ago

        What system does your library use? Most of the libraries I know use Overdrive which is NOT supported by Kindle. It would be a device I would recommend to people without hesitation if not for this defect.

    • Irascible
    • 9 years ago

    I got the meaning, but I didn’t get the words: “but if Steve Jobs and Jony Ive had designed the thing”
    Same paragraph: “and it it were”

    Nice read as always.

      • Cyril
      • 9 years ago

      I’m just saying that if Apple had designed the thing (Jony Ive is Apple’s industrial design chief), it would probably be better. Typo fixed, though, thanks for pointing it out.

        • Irascible
        • 9 years ago

        Ah… lol. I didn’t know who Jony was. My mind looked at “Ive” and saw the contraction of “I have”.

        • chriso11
        • 9 years ago

        I’m happy Apple didn’t touch the Kindle. It is small, inexpensive, and doesn’t need Itunes. I also like the double set of page turning buttons, that way I can hold it with either hand and read.

    • Spotpuff
    • 9 years ago

    I was thinking about getting one of these just yesterday! Crazy… the 3g has some nice features like accessing wikipedia anywhere, but not sure if that’s worth $50 more.

      • Dazrin
      • 9 years ago

      I rarely use the 3G, but if you travel a lot it would be worth it.

      I don’t have a smart phone, so it has been very useful on a few occasions…
      Access gmail on the go.
      Google Maps (or the cleaned up kindlemap.net version which is much easier to use on the Kindle’s browser)
      Lookup restaurants
      Etc.

      • swampfox
      • 9 years ago

      Drove over Donner Pass once and my wife had never heard the story, so I had her look it up on Wikipedia on her Kindle. That was great. Not sure if it was worth $50, but the ability to get books while sitting in an airport is pretty nice.

    • sweatshopking
    • 9 years ago

    thank God for “Nirvana’s Nevermind,” Man, I love that album.

    On the “Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath”, be prepared for a snooze fest. Whilst it did educate me on the situation back then, and open my eyes to a variety of views, OMG it’s boring. I was 14 when i read it though. Maybe it’s actually better than I remember.

      • DancinJack
      • 9 years ago

      [quote=”SSK”<]thank God for "Nirvana's Nevermind," Man, I love that album.[/quote<] That is disgusting. Every time I hear Cobain's voice I cringe. As for the Kindle: I do a decent amount of traveling and am always jealous of the people with a Kindle on the plane or in the airport. I like to have physical editions of some things, but I'd really like to have a Kindle and be able to access my books anytime, anywhere. 165 bucks for the wifi version is very reasonable. May have to pick one up.

        • Corrado
        • 9 years ago

        Thats $165 Canadian, too. Its $130 in the US.

          • DancinJack
          • 9 years ago

          Do you know how the 3G works? I don’t think I would really use it as I’m nearly always within range of a WiFi network, but the website says you get “Free 3G.” Worth the extra 40 bucks for the 3G version?

          e: By that I mean do you know what “contract” or what have you they use for the 3G stuff?

            • Forge
            • 9 years ago

            Welcome to 2008, Cyril! We’ll see you in tablet land someday soon!

            DancinJack – Amazon did 3G right. I pick up my old Kindle and hit a horribly misrendered static webpage, and it works. There are no contracts, there are no limitations, and there is no tethering. Whatever you can get to in that castrated browser, you can have. I heard you might maybe be able to get Pandora hacked together on there, but the slow screen refresh forbids much of anything more exciting.

            • gbcrush
            • 9 years ago

            It’s just that. Free 3G. Amazon has worked with mobile providers where the kindle is sold and arranged for free (non contract and non pay-as-you-go) mobile data access. This is offset some by the increased cost of the 3G models and the money amazon makes from selling you kindle books.

            I know it’s hard to believe when ever mobile carrier is looking to shaft you more with increased prices to their data plans, but that’s the way it works. Buy a kindle. Get data access.

            Here’s XKCD’s take:

            [url<]http://xkcd.com/548/[/url<]

        • sweatshopking
        • 9 years ago

        well, don’t come to my house, cause you’ll be cringing.

          • DancinJack
          • 9 years ago

          🙂 Your wife lets you play that stuff?

            • sweatshopking
            • 9 years ago

            Yes, and my six year old daughter loves it. My wife doesn’t really listen to anything, and mostly tunes out what I put on.

      • Corrado
      • 9 years ago

      Theres no contract. It just ‘works’. Its on AT&T’s service.

        • sweatshopking
        • 9 years ago

        Steinbeck does? that’s cool. I’m not a huge AT&T fan though. How come your ampersand looks different then mine?

          • Corrado
          • 9 years ago

          Wrong reply. The ampersands look the same to me…

      • bthylafh
      • 9 years ago

      Grapes of Wrath is one of those rare books for which I enjoyed the movie more.

      That’s a compliment to the movie, actually; it’s pretty good.

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