The Republic of T.

Black. Gay. Father. Vegetarian. Buddhist. Liberal.

Craving a Kindle?

Maybe good things do come to those who wait. At least I hope so, because I’ve been waiting a while now. Back in April 2006, I was coveting the Sony Reader. A little over a year later, Amazon introduced the Kindle, and again I started craving that one.

It’s been four years since I started craving an e-book reader. In the interim, since then there’s been a deluge of options (with even more to come), each of which caused me to put off buying one until (a) I could make up my mind, (b) something more affordable came on the market, and (c) something with more of the features I wanted became available.

Well, I think I’m closer to making up my mind, now that a new version of an old reader seems to meet my other criteria.

One absolute truth of my life is that there will always be more books. Despite regular visits to the library, I still by books. I make notes in them, and underline passages. As I writer, I hold on to them for later reference. I have filled my shelves at home. I bought a smaller shelf and put it in the office next to my desk. It is practically full. I now have books stacked on the floor next to that bookshelf. I have a small stack of books on my desk. In the basement, there’s another a Rubbermaid bin full of books.

And there will be more. My "To Read" pile is surpassed only by my "To read" list. Something has got to give. That’s why I’m starting to reconsider the Amazon Kindle.

Kindle in direct sunlight: easy to read

This week, Amazon unveiled what everyone (except Amazon) is calling the Kindle 3. You might call it Amazon’s iPad response. The Kindle 3 is ingeniously designed to be everything the iPad will never be: small, light and inexpensive.

The smallness comes in the form of a 21 percent reduction in the dimensions from the previous Kindle. The new one measures 7.5 by 4.8 by 0.3 inches, yet the screen has the same six-inch diagonal measurements as always. Amazon’s designers did what they should have done a long time ago: they shaved away a lot of that empty beige (or now dark gray) plastic margin.

Now, the Kindle is almost ridiculously lightweight; at 8.5 ounces, it’s a third the weight of the iPad. That’s a big deal for a machine that you want to hold in your hands for hours.

Then there is the $140 price. That’s for the model with Wi-Fi — a feature new to the Kindle that plays catch-up to the Barnes & Noble Nook. A Kindle model that can also get online using the cellular network, as earlier models do, costs $50 more. But the main thing you do with the wireless feature is download new books, so Wi-Fi is probably plenty for most people.

That $140 is quite a tumble from the Kindle’s original $400 price, and a tiny sliver of what you would pay for an iPad ($500 and way, way up).

Now, as the reviewer says in the article quoted above, it’s  silly to compare the new Kindle. The iPad is practically a full blown computer. (And now, with a keyboard dock accessory, perhaps it’s even closer to that.) But if you’re like me still haven’t bought an iPad, you may be wondering why exactly you need it.

Of course, you don’t need an iPad. I’ve pretty much come to the decision that I don’t. I’ve got an iPhone, plus a Mac Mini at home and a Macbook that goes almost everywhere with me. Much as I’d like an iPad, it would only duplicate most of the functions of the other three.

The main reason I wanted it was because I wanted an e-reader, and was intrigued by iBooks and it’s ability to read PDFs. Plus, I could run all the e-reader apps on the ipad that I already run on my iPhone. (Note, most e-reader owners are satisfied with them, and not anxious to trade up to the the iPad.)

I had been concerned with only being able to purchase ebooks from one store, and I’ve a suspicion that Amazon may yet add EPUB support. In the meantime, I’ve kind of softened on this. If Amazon has a big enough collection of ebooks, maybe I can live with that. besides, most of the other ebooks I’ve been reading are in PDF format.

Then I found out that the Kindle 3 handles PDFs too. Plus the NYT review says you can add notes to them and magnify them.

The wi-fi feature puts it over the top. Give me that, and I can do without 3g access, especially if all I’m doing is downloading books. And the other features — annotation, highlighting, etc. — pretty much seal the deal. The price, far less than the iPad, makes this an bit of an easier purchase.

I haven’t seen this model yet, but I’ve seen the previous ones. (I got my hands on a Sony Reader a while back, and was relieved that I didn’t take the plunge earlier as I was underwhelmed with it.)

It’s out of stock until sometime around the middle of this month, but I’m pretty much settled on getting my hands on a Kindle of my own.

6 Comments

  1. Agree with you on the Kindle. And the iPad is expensive. But the only thing that gives me a little pause with the Kindle is the expectation of less costly, non-Apple, tablets arriving.

    I have read books on my iPod touch. The screen is a little small, but reading off a lighted screen has a lot of appeal, especially in the Metro. But at $140 the Kindle is a bargain for what it can do.

  2. I appreciate how convenient ebooks are to voracious readers – very handy to have dozens and dozens and more books on a single device or SD card instead of carrying a suitcase of books on a trip. But I’ve never understood the appeal of a device that does ONLY that one thing.

    You already have a smartphone, why not load ebook software to the smartphone and be done with it? You can even load Kindle and Nook software to the smart phone and shop their ebook stores as if you had purchased the actual device.

  3. I absolutely love my kindle, but if you want to read PDFs, it’s not really a good option. PDFs are specifically designed to mimic paper with a specific size and layout and generally, they don’t show well at all on a kindle. You can convert them, but the untweaked result is often lacking because the PDF was poorly created in the first place. For example, I’ve come across several where the end of each line has a paragraph return and when converted you end up with every line being a separate paragraph. Another common conversion problem is there being no space between the last word in an original line and the first word in the next line. So the first paragraph of your post would read “because I’ve beenwaiting a while now”

    If I want something that’s in PDF, I generally extract the text as html, look at where the original creator has sinned in layout, do a bunch of global search and replaces in a text editor, and rebuild the document as a mobi file from the HTML.

    Epub, on the other hand, is easily converted with a program like Calibre. Though if its protected epub, you’d have to strip the DRM which is probably technically illegal. I never really worry about it because the big reason I went for the kindle was I couldn’t remember the last time I bought a book that wasn’t from Amazon.

  4. Actually, I have the Kindle and Nook apps on my iPhone along with one or two others. And they work reasonably well. However, for extended reading the small screen leaves me longing for a bit more room, or a screen that doesn’t cause weird breaks in the flow of reading. (At least, it seems that way to me.)

    Between the iPad and the Kindle, it’s a choice between something things already done by stuff I already have, and something that only does one thing and (I think) does it better than the what I’m currently using for that function. When the Kindle first came out, the cost was prohibitive as far as I was concerned. Now, I think the price is right, and the upgrade worth it.

  5. I love LOVE LOVE my Kindle. The iPad is the wrong size for extended reading. I also love amazon’s site kindle.amazon.com – your highlights and notes are all available there so if you are, as for example, blogging and want to copy a quote, you can copy and paste and don’t have to retype the whole thing. The kindle is also great for taking with you, the screen doesn’t wash out in the sunshine . . . it’s great.

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