Friday, 5 February 2010

I'm getting that Kindling feeling...

The honest truth about my Kindle is that I love it.

Scott Pack has been blogging about his over the last week or so too. I reckon I probably prefer it a bit more than he does, but that's not to say he thinks it's without its merits. Go take a look after you've read this. His latest post is a comparison with the Sony Reader, which might help anyone (Matt) who's considering buying an e-Reader.

I own a batch of books I love, that I'll go back to again and again and the books as objects have sentimental value. There are maybe fifty or so of them. Other books I generally give away, or they end up dusty in the loft. So from now on, that collection won't grow as much as it did. I'll be using ebooks instead, especially for my commute, for which the Kindle is ideal.

What's so good about the Kindle? The main advantage over a computer (or phone or netbook, or, yes, iPad), is that, like all the other eReaders, it uses digital ink rather than a LCD or Plasma display, which is pretty much print-quality text on a screen. (If you've not seen e-ink in action before, it looks like someone has pasted some actual printed text on an acetate to a screen.) Reading from it really is a very similar experience to reading from print (except for light reflection on the screen in dim light.)

I've tried out the Sony Reader and the Sony Reader Touch in a couple of bookshops before, and also the horrible BeBook. Aesthetically, some people, like Scott, prefer the Sony product, some the Amazon. I side with Amazon. But the real advantage of the Kindle over the Sony devices--at least at the moment for UK users--is the Kindle has wireless access to Amazon's Whispernet (using a bunch of wireless networks, including 3G), which means you can use the Kindle without the need for a computer (other than the initial setting up of an Amazon account).

This is getting a bit wordy, so let's try some bulletpoints:

Why I like the Kindle:
  • Easy to hold and don't need to hold pages open with your hand
  • Shorter width of the page than a standard paperback means faster reading
  • No headaches or eyestrain, unlike using an LCD screen
  • Can hold thousands of books
  • Wireless connection
  • Can store other file types (although I think a USB stick or iPod Shuffle is better suited to this, it's good for emergencies)
  • Free wireless inbox
  • No distractions from other programmes (such as email) while you're reading
I'm also in the middle of editing a good few hundreds of pages of work. The Kindle has saved having to print these out for the final read-throughs, as you can also use the (not-magnificent) keyboard to annotate the work if you crunch it into mobipocket format.

So there you go, my tuppenny worth on using an ereader device. There're lots of other points to consider from the point-of-view of an author, and from the point-of-view of the publishing industry, but more on that another time.

(Bonus points to anyone who can spot the TV reference in the title of this post.)

8 comments:

Matt Curran said...

Thanks for posting this, Neil. Definitely something to think about. Price is still an issue to me... and the I-phone, while not being an ideal dedicated e-reader, has so far got the edge because of the other functions (for example I'm typing this comment on the I-phone right now). I might go down the dedicated e-reader route once the price drops (and Amazon or whoever develops the words-into-speech software they promised...)

Though if you are coming over for the London meet, could you be persuaded to bring said Kindle with you?

Tim Stretton said...

Yeah, bring it with you! Keen to see it action.

Best verification word ever: "premasms"...

Neil said...

I thought that was the main reason I was invited.

Tim Stretton said...

'Main'? You thought there were others...?

Aliya Whiteley said...

Don't be so mean. Of course there are other reasons. I'd never find the place if he didn't meet me at the tube station and walk me there.

Nik Perring said...

Thanks for this, Neil - interesting (though I agree with Matt on the price front and wonder, E-ink aside, what it's got over the iPhone. Plus I'm not too happy with having to buy from Amazon, if that's the case).

What's so bad about the BeBook. I was looking at their new one on their site, due out soon, and thought it looked great...

Nik

Neil said...

Nik, e-ink aside, it's probably not got anything at all over the iPhone, but, to me, the e-ink is absolutely crucial to an enjoyable reading experience.

As for the BeBook, I only trialled the first version, but thought it felt clunky, was ugly, and the page loading wasn't as smooth as the Kindle or the Sonys. Just didn't do it for me. Then again, I have been known to be a bit of a snob.

After all that, I think I might have to conveniently forget to bring the thing now.

Nik Perring said...

That's really good to know - thanks Neil. Bit daft considering the Bebook's almost double the price of the Kindle.

I feel tempted...