04 April 2010

The Kindle: to buy, or not to buy?

Thoughts on the Kindle. . .???

Anyone out there use a Kindle for reading texts in electronic form?

I've been thinking of asking for one for my birthday.  I travel a lot in the summers and carrying around boxes of books for research/fun is just not possible.  Kindle-style texts are cheaper than books, so there's money to be saved over the long run.

Since I'm not a Gadget Guy, my concerns about the Kindle are mostly about how easy it is to use.  My poetically structured brain has zero interest in the intricacies of how the thing works or how its tech-wizardry can be improved by endless tweaking.

Does it work?  Is it easy to use?  Is it more convenient than a paper book?  Does it save money?

Thoughts. . .suggestions for alternatives. . .arguments for/against?

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  1. Anonymous2:02 AM

    I, too, have these questions as well a another: have certain books been "installed" (or whatever)for Kindle, or can any book I wish be loaded up to it? I can imagine that even if the number of books prepared in this way is already quite large, they might not often have the particular book I want. What's the deal with this? How does a book become Kindle-able?

  2. I've never had one, never used one, and only seen one in passing, but last week, Amazon gave into the publishing houses and increased e-book prices for the Kindle. They will still probably be cheaper than books, but not dirt cheap like they've been.

  3. Good question, I'll be interested to hear the responses.

    I'd say (guess) the first step would be to have a look and see how many of one's books are available on Amazon in Kindle editions... My understanding is that other digital ebook formats can be brought onto the Kindle but that it's a slightly roundabout process. But again I don't know from experience.

  4. I've got a Kindle 1, and enjoy using it. It comes with no books installed; but you can buy and download books from Amazon, and download books from other sites as well. Classics are generally free or available for a smal price (typically one to two dollars). Sometimes you need to have Amazon convert them to Kindle format for a nominal fee (usually less than 50 cents).

    I have found the Kindle to be very pleasant for reading novels and such like books. It is much less pleasant for serious study--flipping pages back and forth is too slow. (The Kindle 2 and DX are faster than the Kindle 1; this might make a difference.) And taking notes, though possible, is also slow.

    And let's face it, father, the books you're looking studying are often a wee bit esoteric...and thus, less likely to be available on the Kindle. Make sure that the books you need are actually available.

  5. Father,

    In addition to the really good points above, there is another. Technology. The Kindle is about to be overcome by better screens inn the next year or so, if the poorly named iPad has not already. THe Kindle's grayscale screen will soon be outdone by color versions and finer resolutions. That means either it will be less appealing or it can come with a substantial discount. I'm taking a wait and see position myself.

  6. There are hacks for non-Kindle format books. I have no personal experience with them, but had to do a lot of reading on the subject, since I will want professional texts converted soon. I have the Kindle program on my laptop and my iPod. I figured there was no need to buy an actual Kindle when I already have two portable things to use it on. Kindle uses 3G, where my laptop and iPod are limited to WiFi, but an iPhone would get around that if you don't mind the petite screen. All depends how much freedom you need to download away from home.

  7. I got my son a Kindle for Christmas and he loves it and the reviews are largely very positive. Amazon has the largest collection of eBooks. The prices are very good.

    Though for your reading choices you might want to check if the books you have on your wish list are in Kindle format. Not every publisher offers Kindle books and the type of books on your wish list might not be available. This will change more over time as every publisher switches over. Ignatius Press now has eBooks for all their new releases available on Amazon and their site.

    As for me I used the Kindle App on my iPod Touch to read dozens of books and was pretty happy with the experience even on the smaller screen. Though now I have the iPad and the book reading experience on the larger full color screen is very good. Apple's iBook app is the best book reading app I have used. Though the Kindle app on the iPad is quite good also. What I especially like on the iPad is that I am not limited to just Amazon's books and can get books from multiple sources to read.

    If you find the books you like in Kindle format than the Kindle might be a good choice for you and a cheaper device. The iPad though is not a one trick pony like the Kindle and can read books and more such as having the Liturgy of the Hours on it.

  8. Anonymous10:55 AM

    Kindle is also available in Kindle PC, which is a program to download FREE to your computer. I have found that sometimes, depending on the book you are interested in purchasing for your Kindle PC, a paperback, for example, will cost $7.99, and the Kindle version will cost $6.49 or $5.49, so while you do save some money, you still are purchasing the book at over half price a lot of the time.

    If you have a laptop/notebook, I believe, but don't quote me on this, that you could take that with you in your travels and still be able to use your Kindle PC. Whether you could download NEW purchases while away from home, I don't know. But anything stored on your Kindle already, you should be able to access just fine.

  9. I have one and really enjoy using it. It has alleviated some of the piles of books around the house. That said, the more popular a book, the more likely it is to be in Kindle format. The type of books you would most likely use will most likely not be there, as is true with any in-depth books on a subject. Even though I still have to purchase books, I haven't regretted my purchase of the Kindle at all.

  10. Anonymous9:52 PM

    Touchy issue with ebook readers and their "books"--it is really a use license like your software use license. You don't actually own the book.
    It is possible for a book you have "bought" to become unavailable...after a while, that is. I think I heard there was a huge fuss about exactly that happening a while back, with Amazon. Don't know if it was "free" books or paid-for ones that disappeared.
    For a scholar, I think continued availability of the text would be a major issue, along with the small-market kind of books wanted.
    Happy Easter!

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  12. Got a Kindle 2 for Christmas. Love it. Being bookish, it is reducing the piles in my room. Screen clarity is perfect and this thing is really easy to use. Getting a book in less than a minute is pretty cool too.