Monday, January 25, 2010

Amazon Kindle: Let me tell you what I think


Pros:
- Holds a shit ton of books in a little lightweight device, obviously. Very convenient for massive novels; you can finally read Against The Day in public!
- Looks cool. Like it's a component of a storm trooper's armor or something. That's cool, right?
- E Ink display uses a tiny amount of battery- I can't find the hours of reading one charge will give, but I used it for maybe 20 hours while traveling this past weekend at the battery meter was at about half (wireless was turned off unless I was using it).
- Kindle iPhone app will synch to your Kindle so you can resume reading right where you left off. So, like, you can read your phone on the way to the bar and not have to carry a book around all night.
- The dictionary function is handy when you read as much pretentious bullshit as I do.
- The default font (Caecilia by Linotype) is clear and easy to read. (not on previous versions I guess.) This kind of blocky serif font is popular right now. It feels so good on my eyes.
- The bottom of the screen displays a percentage of the book you've completed. So you're always reading a little more to move that percentage along. It's like running with the Nike+ thing in your shoe.
- Lots of classics are available for free on Project Gutenberg & other sites.

Cons:
- It's way more fragile than a book. You can come home, toss your book on the hat rack and faint on your chaise lounge, but you can't toss your kindle anywhere. Don't put it under the corner of a table either.
- The interface is not fluid to use: you wait a second for the screen to flash when you turn the page. The web browser is slow. The D-pad is cumbersome like cumberland farms. There's no touchscreen. It's clearly not the best it can be at this point and a better version will come out soon, probably this year. It reminds me of using the original GameBoy compared to the one that's out now. Wait to see what the apple tablet is like, because it will force amazon to make some big improvements.
- Your impressive and aesthetically pleasing book collection will stop growing.
- No backlight. Why not?
- Besides public domain things, you need to pay full price for every book ($9.99 for about every fiction novel), newspaper ($13.99/mo. for NYT) and blog subscription ($2/mo for Boing Boing). Unless you look into illegal downloads. Which I should do.
- Some books aren't available on the Kindle store- I went to buy American Psycho and the only Bret Eaton Ellis book on there was Lunar Park. And I guess you can't read that one until you've read the others because it makes reference to them. So, you know... get-a-steppin'.
- The notation/ highlight feature is cool and you can find a lot of academic publications for cheap/ free but it doesn't compare to handwriting notes or highlighting. You're not going to retain it the same way because you're not doing it physically and you're probably really stupid. Good luck with that degree in Film.
- You feel like a money-wasting asshole reading one in public. If you're reading one I know you have money and I'm probably going to mug you on the subway exit stairs when no one is around I'll push you down on your face and hold a knife to your back speaking in a deep voice give me that fucking ebook don't you look at me. Now what?
- If you accidentally hit that D-pad to the right or left it will jump to the nearest chapter break. And the "previous page" function takes you to the page before the one you're on, not the last page you were on. So it's hard to get back to where you were. Like Tom Hanks in Cast Away pretty much.

So don't buy one. Your iPhone is probably a better ebook reader in most regards.
But if you do own one they're kind of fun.

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