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The Future Of Reading

Kindle User Review

Posted by admin on May 2, 2010

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6,561 of 6,670 people found the following review helpful:

4.0 out of 5 stars Kindle Me!, February 25, 2009
By Robin L. McLaughlin (Seattle, Wa.)

I’m a new Kindle 2 owner and I did not own a Kindle 1. I was very interested in the original Kindle, but had decided to wait for improvements based on customer feedback after it was released, especially the accidental page turning issue. Since it looked like they made the improvements I was waiting for (one of the others was a bit more free space on the case to hold it) I took the plunge and got the new one.

I thought I’d start with listing my reasons for getting the Kindle, since I think that can sometimes help others who are sitting on the fence to decide if it’s for them or not.

* Saving Money. While the cost of the Kindle up front is steep, in the long run it will pay for itself and save me money since I read on average 4-8 books a month. With the free classics available it’s also going to encourage me to expand my reading material, for no additional cost.

* Environment. The majority of books I buy and read I’ll only read once. I feel guilty about the trees needed to make the paper and all the other energy used to produce and ship/distribute the books required to satisfy my reading appetite.

* Storage. I’m out of shelf space and all the boxes of books do little to add to the ambience of my one bedroom apartment. On the rare occasions I want to read something again trying to find the book in all the boxes is an exercise in frustration.

* eInk technology. I love books and using an electronic gadget isn’t the same experience. The new technology has almost eliminated that concern.

* Convenience. The Whispernet is great for when you need the next book in a series right away or want to stock up on a few before leaving on a trip. Being able to have several books stored in the Kindle to take along instead of having to pack an extra bag just for my books for a week’s vacation is a huge benefit.

* Aging. I’m 47 and middle age is starting to catch up with me! Being able to select larger print to avoid having to use my reading glasses (just started needing them this last year) and having a device that’s easier on my hands for holding to read is a boon.

* Less waiting for publication. I don’t like reading hardbacks because of their size and weight. But it’s agonizing to wait for the latest book in a series to finally come out in mass market format. Now I won’t have to wait!

My Kindle was one of the ones that shipped without being pre-registered to my account. After I plugged it in to my USB hub on my computer to charge the battery (the charging cord design is very clever!) I read through the introductory portion of the user guide which told me how to register the Kindle. I followed the instructions and a couple minutes later I was all set!

I thought it would be fitting to christen my Kindle with the Stephen King novella UR, so went to the Amazon site on my computer and clicked on the button to buy it. As soon as I’d clicked the button to confirm my order it appeared on my Kindle almost immediately! I read it while the Kindle finished charging.

First impressions:

When people say the Kindle is sleek they ain’t kidding. Everything is very nicely laid out and it just feels and looks cool!

After reading through the introductory guide that loads up automatically at the start and following along it took me almost no time to learn which buttons are where and what each of them do. The intro guide is plenty to get started and I haven’t felt a need to work my way through the more detailed guide.

The 5-way controller is teensy! I was a bit taken aback at first by this thinking it was going to be too small to manipulate easily. But it only took me a couple tries to get it right. Using a fingernail to push it does the trick. For people who have dexterity issues though it could be a potential stumbling block. If that’s you I’d recommend seeing if you can find someone with a Kindle 2 to try it out for yourself first to see how it works for you.

Being able to change the font sizes is awesome! I started reading with the default size without my glasses and noticed I was squinting a bit, so changed to one size larger with a couple button clicks and it was much easier without feeling like the print was too big and took up too much of the page.

When starting to read for real for the first time I was VERY aware that I was reading on an electronic gadget and was a bit disappointed that it didn’t immediately “disappear” as per the advertising. The gadget feeling is underlined by needing to press a button to turn pages. However, it really didn’t take too long for that feeling to lessen. I imagine once the Kindle is no longer my exciting new toy and is just what I use to read books that I’ll have completely lost the gadget awareness thing.

It took very little time to get used to having to push a button to turn pages and the screen flash as they turn only really startled me the first few times. I can see how it might bother some people, but it was a non-issue for me almost right away. The page turns are very fast. I don’t feel the need to push the button ahead of time to prepare for the end of the page at all, which evidently a lot of Kindle 1 owners do since it’s a bit more sluggish.

So far the only real drawback that I’ve experienced is that the Kindle is heavier for its thin profile than I expected or would prefer. The weight gives it a very solid feel so you don’t feel like the thing is super fragile and going to break any minute, but after reading for a while I could definitely feel it weighing on my wrist.

On the other hand, the Kindle design allows for holding it in several different comfortable positions with either hand. Normally when reading books I only like holding them in my left hand and during a long reading session it often starts to get uncomfortable, or even painful. I found myself easily switching my Kindle off between hands and into different positions in each hand without even really noticing I was doing it. So being able to so easily shift it around helps counteract that it’s a bit heavier than completely desireable.

I ordered the Amazon case and am quite pleased with it. It’s fairly sturdy, looks and feels well-made, and the design is perfect for how I’ll likely be using the Kindle most of the time. Eventually I may get something like the Patagonia case that zips around the edges for travel, but for every day reading this one suits me just fine.

Unlike a lot of people I think having the case as a separate purchase right from the start was a good move by Amazon. If a case was included, as with the Kindle 1, that would have been reflected in a higher price. But I’d imagine that probably 50% or more buyers end up buying a different case instead that suits their tastes, which means you end up paying for two cases. The way it’s been done with Kindle 2 means you can pick which case you want right from the start and only pay once.

Overall I’m thrilled to finally be part of the Kindle community and expect to be spending many, many, many pleasant hours absorbed in books on my new best friend. Right now I’m off to download the new Kim Harrison book because she’s coming to a local bookstore this weekend and I want to read it before I go see her to avoid dealing with spoilers. If I hadn’t gotten the Kindle that wouldn’t have been possible because I’d be stuck waiting for the mass market paperback which doesn’t come out until next November. Kindle me baby!

Update 3/23/09:

I feel a bit guilty adding more to an already long review, but felt that since I’ve now had the Kindle for almost a full month it would be appropriate. I’m completely in love with my Kindle! If my building should catch on fire my Kindle will be what I grab to save as I flee.

Like pretty much everyone else I feel that the Kindle 2 is in dire need of a user customizable folder system for organizing books. That’s the biggest negative for me so far.

So far I’ve purchased 19 ebooks. Some from Amazon and some directly from a couple small presses. Tracking my savings on a spreadsheet I’ve already saved $62.97 vs. the lowest cost paper versions on those 19 books. That’s pretty impressive.

The dictionary function is absolutely fantastic and now that I’m accustomed to having it I found it’s frustrating to be reading a paper book and not be able to use it!

I didn’t think I’d be using the highlight and note features much or at all but actually have been and they’re an extremely nice extra. People in book discussion groups would find these to be a huge benefit.

The search function is also surprisingly useful for a wide variety of uses.

I’ve definitely lost most of the gadget awareness thing. This is just how I read most books now.

One of the unexpected great things is not having to deal with my bookmark falling out and having to find my place again. Or being able to just set the reader down for a couple minutes without bookmarking or losing my place because I bumped the book and it closed. It’s little things like this that really elevate the reading experience.

Source: Amazon.

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