Well, I finally did it. Since Amazon first started advertising the Kindle, I had pondered whether it was a new way of acquiring and reading books that I would actually use or just another gimmicky gadget that would eventually end up gathering dust in a closet. My frugal (read that, ‘cheap’) side insisted that the $359 price was too much, while my inner geek said, “So what?” For quite a while, I waited and watched, hoping for the price to come down. But when the ‘new and improved’ Kindle 2 came out at the same price as the original, I gave up the fight and bought one. Even then, I would have given you even money that the price would fall soon after. It has, to $299.
When the Kindle arrived in the mail, I charged it up and downloaded a book that I had been planning to read for some time, Pat Bertram’s “More Deaths Than One,” which is a great suspense novel, by the way. I have since finished reading that and am now in the middle of a new release from Jeffrey Deaver. So, what do I think of the Kindle so far?
Well, first of all, there’s the price of the books. For the two downloads, one normally available only in hardcover, I paid a total of $19.99 compared to $33.16 for the print versions from Amazon. Saved $13.17 on two books. Not bad, but what really amazed me was how simple and easy the process was. The wireless download took a matter of seconds for each book, no computer or Internet connection required. Amazon automatically charges whatever credit/debit card you have set up in your Amazon.com account. There’s no extra charge for the download and no contract required for the wireless connection. Unless you purchase the Kindle as a gift for someone else, your account information is already installed on the device. No new registration or account set up. Pretty slick.
So the next question for me was, how does reading a book on the device compare to holding a copy in your hands. Before getting the Kindle, most of my e-book experience had been with downloading and reading in PDF or Microsoft Word format. This is very different from that. I believe they have done a good job of making the Kindle feel like an actual book. It’s not an LCD screen. I read somewhere that the display actually uses ink. And it does look like a printed page. You see one page at a time and the controls are very simple. Under each thumb is a button for NEXT PAGE and you can go back by pressing PREV PAGE. In this case, a ‘page’ is however much writing fits on the screen. You can change the font size. The Kindle does not display the actual page numbers from the book, just a completion percentage at the bottom of the page. For the fiction that I normally read, this works fine. I do wonder if that would be a problem in reading a reference book, where you might have an index that lists actual page numbers from the printed book. You might get around that by using the search facilities. There are other features I haven’t yet looked into, such as bookmarking and attaching your own notes to the text. And if you prefer audio books, the Kindle can read the text aloud. The volume and reading pace are adjustable.
All in all, for the type of reading I do, the Kindle 2 has proved to be quite impressive. I can see myself using it regularly and maybe even saving enough on purchasing books to make the initial price of the device seem a little less extravagant. I normally don’t keep a collection of the books I read, so this works well for me.
I’m sure there are some different opinions out there. Have any other Kindle owners had problems or complaints? Has anyone tried reading nonfiction material where the lack of page numbers might be an issue?
Norm Brown is the author of the suspense novel Carpet Ride, published by Secondwind Publishing, LLC.