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The Kindle

A few words about my Kindle, a birthday present that I've now had a little over a week to explore, and some recent reading.

The display is wonderful, clean, crisp and easy to read. I don't even need to take advantage of the larger text sizes, the default is fine. What I like most is the length of each line and the spacing of the text. It is ideal for reading quickly, each line the perfect length to take in at one time, and the spacing between lines is perfect for my tastes. And having the dictionary built in removes the temptation to guess at the meaning of words you're not sure of.

The number of available books is something over 140,000 which is good, but not as good as it sounds. There are a number of books I'd like to own in the Kindle format that are still not available. Bestsellers are commonly available at $9.99, while the classics of literature are often available for a dollar or two. And there are the sites that have free downloads of books out of copyright. Many Books and Feed Books are two good ones.

There is also the capability to convert your own files into Kindle format. There are two methods, you can email supported documents* as an attachment to Amazon for ten cents an attachment, currently free, and when you turn your Kindle on it will automatically download your file. This process typically takes less than a minute. You can also mail the document to a free kindle address and get the converted document back via email and then transfer it to your Kindle via USB.

My son, who downloads and reads a significant number of PDFs related to his field of philosophy and is considering getting a Kindle. He wanted to know if he could transfer the documents to the Kindle and so we tested it with a couple of PDFs he recently downloaded. It works well. One of the settings for the Kindle is the email addresses from which you will accept documents. I simply authorized his email address and he sent the PDFs to my Kindle address as attachments.

You can also listen to audio books and mp3s on a Kindle, but it is not something I'm interested in. In addition you can browse the Internet in a somewhat limited way, but you could check web based email, peruse Wikipedia etc if you wanted too. I find the Internet is a distraction from the reading I like to do and so I leave the connection turned off expect for downloading content. It also saves power on the Kindle's battery. It will last for a week without that capability enabled and two days with it on.

A couple of other features I'm enjoying is the ability to attach notes and highlight text. It saves the notes and highlighted text in a clipping file and you can use the USB access to retrieve it to your computer. I often I read a passage that I want to remember and share and since it's not convenient, trust my memory, or I make a note on a card or the back of an envelope that is usually lost. The Kindle has solved that particular problem. It would be nice to be able to email the notes, but alas that feature is not available.

Overall I'm happy my family chose to give me the Kindle as a gift since it may have been years months before I purchased one for myself.

What don't I like, the fact that it doesn't have 'real' page numbers. There is a bar graph thingy at the bottom of each pages that show's how far into the book you are and it does have it's on numbering system for the pages, and that should be enough, but it just doesn't quite feel right. I suppose it's too many years of reading in the traditional way. I've been reading War and Peace, yes I finished it when I was on page 1000 I discovered that the Richard Pevear , Larissa Volokhonsky translation I was reading was available in Kindle format, and so I purchased it and read the last 200 plus pages on the Kindle. It was then I discovered that I missed the actual page numbers. I found myself rather irrationally going to the actual book several times to see what page I was 'really on', weird isn't it. I also read Predictablly Irrational on the Kindle, recommended by the way and now I'm reading The Amnesiac by Sam Taylor where I'm testing my British cultural knowledge. I think I'm doing well, I know for example that a crisp package by the side of the road is not some sort of rodent that's been out in the sun too long.

The Kindle is not a substitute for traditional books, when I was reading War and Peace a big book, it was heavy and substantial and in some way that added something in addition to the page numbers that were missing on the Kindle. I think of the Kindle not as a replacement of traditional books but as a supplement. I've got jury duty next week and I can tell you that it will be nice to take the Kindle and have additional choices of what to read while I'm waiting rather than deciding in advance what specific books I'll be in the mood to read.

I think I'll be using it mostly for throw-away fiction and various anthologies of essays and stories. You can, for instance, get all of Chekov's short stories for a pittance.

*
  • Microsoft Wor (.DOC)
  • Structured HTML
  • JPEG
  • GIF
  • PNG
  • BMP
  • Compressed ZIP
  • PDF (not perfect but pretty good)

 

Comments

Sounds like a great gift! two questions... replacement batteries? This isn't like one of those Apple products is it, with batteries that define the life of the product?

And, storage of files. When you've finished a book, where do you shelve it?

The batteries are about $20.00 and you can install them yourselves.

Storage? I'm not sure what you're asking here. The basic unit holds a couple of hundred books, about 500-700K per book, and you can get an SD memory cared up to 4GB for around $20.00 so that means you have the ability to store over 4000 books on the sucker. One feature I wish they'd add is of folders so you could group like items together. There are a number of ways to sort the books however, author, title etc. You can also have it just show Kindle memory and keep current reading material there and put the finished books on the SD memory.

You can also delete Kindle books from Amazon and then download them from your account later, at least I believe that is true. In addition on other books you can always save them on your computer and then use the USB connection to put them back on the Kindle.

There are rumors that new models are coming out in the fall or winter so if you're not in a hurry it might be worth waiting. They might also start discounting the current models more. The current price of $359.00 is $40.00 below what they originally sold for so who knows?

Happy belated birthday, Norm.

There go the book giveaways ;)

Hmmm - you sure they won't confiscate your Kindle at the courthouse?

here go the book giveaways ;)

Hmmm - you sure they won't confiscate your Kindle at the courthouse?

They said to bring reading material, and even mentioned free wifi and bringing a laptop if you wanted. The Kindle doesn't need wifi it has its own phone like whispernet built in.

Giveaways, I don't think that will be much of a problem I have dozens and there are several publishers that like to send me political books looking for a review or mention on the site. I have a copy of The Wrecking Crew by Thomas Frank that I'll be giving away soon.

Thanks for the info on power and storage. And, belated happy birthday!

Yes, good for you, Norm (and Joyeux anniversaire!). Now step 2: can someone please come up with a Kindle that is not butt-ugly?

Belated birthday greetings, Norm!

This review is deeply appreciated, especially the tid bits about PDFs (for the same reason as your son), and the remarks about notes and highlighting, since I usually make marginal notes and underline passages while I read academic work (although, less so, these days, for leisure reading of a classical work).

I also have a terrible habit of lugging a truck load of books around whereever I go--for some reason, if I go to visit my parents for a week, or something, I think I need 50-60 lbs of books, which is just absurd.

OK, enough of my blubbering, my real question. There's something about my web reading that is different for me than reading physical print. I can't put my finger on it, but if I'm doing heavy duty reading (something dense, abstract, or technical), I'm much more comfortable reading it on paper. Maybe --ehem, Probably--this is all in my head, but if you know what I'm talking about--do you feel your less attentive or focused when reading on the web? And if you are, do you experience the same issues with kindle?

Happy Birthday Norm,

Keep us updated on the gadget. I was thinking of getting something like that for my father.

There's something about my web reading that is different for me than reading physical print.

I know exactly what you mean. I think this is how a brain gets wired for print and probably won't be the same for future generations raised on Kindle-like devices. (Which, of course, I find sad but - so it goes.)

Do they have software updates that might add new features, or would you have to get a different model? (I have a birthday coming up.)

Since the e-book page numbers change when the font changes, and perhaps across devices with differing resolutions, I wonder how a quotation can be properly cited.

Since the e-book page numbers change when the font changes, and perhaps across devices with differing resolutions, I wonder how a quotation can be properly cited.

A damn good question and one I don't have an answer for. I don't see why they couldn't with software include page numbers from the source book the Kindle is based on.

Ironic. There are a lot of reasons why the kindle is a bad thing.

http://freedomforip.org/2007/11/20/kindle-ridden-with-drm-and-closed-format/

I would have expected a post on how it harms freedom.

OK, enough of my blubbering, my real question. There's something about my web reading that is different for me than reading physical print.

It is not like reading on the web the display is not backlit like a computer screen.

I feel that same something when I try to read anything of substance on the web. Reading from the Kindle has been different, not quite like a book but not like reading it on the computer.

The quality of the display is what I believe makes it different.

Not only can you attach notes and highlight text which is saved you can also search the text for words or strings of words. In fact you can search the entire Kindle for a phrase.

I've done a little more reading about the conversions and have learned that the underlying formatting they use is a sort of html. I've tried a few simple things lists and so forth using quite simple html and then having it converted and the results have been good.

The display and size are quite similar to the Sony Reader and the Kindle has a a little discussion board where they try to connect prospective buyers with current Kindle owners.

I can't be sure but I think you'd be pleased with the reading experience. If there are any onegoodmove readers in the Salt Lake area that are interested in a short test drive. I'd be happy to meet you for a cup of coffee at a mutually convenient time to try it out.

Do they have software updates that might add new features, or would you have to get a different model? (I have a birthday coming up.)

They do have software updates, which is a plus they can add features on the current models. One rumor is that the new models will have a larger display. The current size is one of the things I like most about it, so I feel good about the model I have. Someone said it's butt ugly and they're right, but I'm already getting comfortable with its funky exterior.

Happy belated Birthday, Norm!

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