The Amazon Kindle: Reading 2.0

The Kindle has been out of the box for five days, which may be enough time and experience to confirm the impression I had after five minutes: this is how I will prefer to read until something better comes along.Kindle

You can learn about the Kindle and read thousands of informative user reviews here, and at no extra charge you may add the following randomized and unsorted notes, observations, and opinions:

  • You can carry the complete works of Shakespeare, Dickens, Twain (and many more) with  two fingers on a Kindle: it weighs 10.3 oz., or about the same as a small paperback.
  • You can download the complete works of Shakespeare, Dickens, Twain, and most other classics in the public domain directly and wirelessly to your Kindle – for free – from sites like Feedbooks.com and others.
  • The Kindle’s wireless connection to Amazon.com (and the web) is free, and it is available just about everywhere you can get cell phone coverage.
  • Every book, magazine, or journal is indexed as it downloads to your Kindle, which means everything on it is searchable.
  • Note to fellow old-fashioned book lovers: You don’t miss the paper, cloth, cover stock, glue, ink, etc. Dickens transports you to 19th-century England exactly the same way on a Kindle, but without the heavy lifting.
  • The Kindle is smart: you can look up vocabulary words on the fly with it’s built-in dictionary, and in a few clicks search Wikipedia for any person, place or thing you encounter as you read (via the free internet connection).
  • The Kindle remembers your place: If you are reading several books and magazines, you are always returned to where you left off when you return to each book and magazine.
  • The Kindle is really wireless: The battery holds a charge for a long time (up to a week), and you don’t have to connect the Kindle to a computer very much (if at all).
  • The Kindle is idiot-friendly: The technology works, and not much of it gets between you and the reading. And it syncs automatically with Amazon.com so that you can buy a book on Amazon’s web site and find it waiting for you the next time you turn on your Kindle.

No serious complaints here. A lot of folks note that they frequently press the page bars inadvertently. That does happen, but usually while you are setting it down, picking it up, or moving it around. The solution is to use a simple keyboard combination that puts the Kindle into power-saving mode and disables the page bars.

This first generation Kindle is not a great medium for coffee table books, children’s lit, and other illustration-heavy reading.

The Kindle’s free wireless internet connection has two levels: fast broadband is available in larger metropolitan areas, and a slower level of access is available for the rest of us. (Even with the slower access, entire books download in about a minute.)Kindle

Some user reviews go negative about the slight delay on page turns, but that seems like a minor nit to pick since by my reckoning a Kindle page turn takes no more time (and less effort) than turning a page on a traditional book.

The Kindle includes a leather book cover that some folks don’t care for (see photo). This reviewer likes it.

The Kindle is not likely to make books obsolete, much less extinct. I would not want to read a large format illustrated history of Renassaince art on a Kindle. Or Dr. Seuss. But it will be my first choice for just about all the prose, poetry, and non-fiction I read from now on.