Thursday, November 20, 2008

Thoughts on my Kindle

Okay, I've been meaning to do this for a while now, and with the shopping season upon us, I figured now might be a good time to put out a review.  

We have had our Kindle for almost a year now.  I think I will just break it down simply into Likes and Dislikes.  (All links below are to the Kindle versions of those items unless otherwise noted).


The Lookup feature-I didn't realize how many words I just sort of skim over because I don't really know what they mean.  Let's say you're reading along and you come across a word you don't know.  You can put your cursor on the sentence containing the word and hit Lookup.  You will then get a page that has the definitions of all the words in that sentence, well, all the major words anyway.  You don't get bombarded with definitions for pronouns, proper names, etc.  Once you are done reading, you select Close and you are back to the page that you were on which contained the troublesome word, which, if you are like me, you will promptly forget the meaning of as soon as you move on to the next sentence.

It's easy to read-The electronic paper is not all glare-y like a computer screen-it really is very much like reading actual paper-and you can easily adjust the text size (6 sizes to choose from, so to give you a Blogger equivalent, you can go from this to a little bit larger than this).

Automatic bookmarking-You can manually bookmark pages, but the Kindle will automatically remember where you left off if you spaz out and go to the main menu in the middle of your reading or set the Kindle down and forget about it and it powers off, which I am prone to do.

Options-Thanks to the wide variety of titles available from the Kindle Store you can go on vacation and have a mystery,romance,a biography,the latest book in the Twilight series, The Wall Street Journal,and all your favorite Dickens stories to choose from all without having to pay an extra baggage fee or hauling around a 93-pound carry on!   

Samples-You can get samples of books that you are interested in so that you don't have to commit to buying the whole thing, sight-unseen, as it were.  Sometimes this is a whole first chapter, sometimes not, but it's usually enough to let you know if you want to buy the book or not.   Magazine,blog,and newspapersubscriptions also come with a 14-day free trial period.

The newly-available Kindle book covers-The original book cover
only has a small tab and two corner pieces to hold the Kindle in place.  These worked ok, but not great.  Sometimes the Kindle would fall out and land on your face if, say, you were reading in bed with the book over your head.  (I never had this problem, but my husband always seemed to be close to losing an eye to the Kindle).  The new covers have 3 leather corners with a 4th elastic-and-leather corner that you can use or not and an overall classier design, in my opinion.  Also, my husband is now much safer.  


The newly-available book covers-While these are an improvement over the original, they still aren't terribly comfortable for long-term reading.  The edges are hard, and there is still nowhere to rest your hands that doesn't promote the accidental turning of pages.  The hard edges thing would be fine, after all books are the same way, but since you have to be cautious of the accidental page turning, you have to hold it weird, and that makes it uncomfortable.

Bad Ergonomics-See above.  You can use the Kindle without its book cover, but I think that makes it even more uncomfortable.  There just needs to be an extra inch or so of neutral space on each side where you can rest your hands.  Better yet if they would make a cover with some extra space, perhaps even a padded edge.  I'm a fairly small-handed gal; I don't know how people with big hands use these things.

No actual page numbers-The Kindle has locations, not pages.  For example, I just opened up to page 1 of Chapter 1 of The Reincarnationist,and the location is 158-64.  When I go to the next page, it is location 164-70.  What the hell is that???  If I change the font size to the next smaller font, page 1 becomes location 158-65, and page 2 is 165-73.  How are you supposed to quote anything like that?  I understand that it is hard to put page numbers on something when the pages aren't static-page 1 is going to end in a different spot depending on whether the font is 8 pt. or 14 pt. (or whatever the options are-I can't seem to find that information anywhere) I still don't like the locations vs. pages thing.  I don't know how to solve that issue, but I'm thinking if they can put a man on the moon, they can figure out how to put pages on the Kindle.  

The back burner effect-I have many good books and samples waiting for me on my Kindle, but I always have library books, and since those have deadlines, I read those first.  Also, I am reluctant to spend the money to get a Kindle book Now! when I know I can get it at the library if I am patient.  For something that was such an investment, I feel like I should use it more than I do.  I have been reading The Story of Edgar Sawtelle,for months now, and I am enjoying it and want to get back to it, but I have other stuff that I feel obligated to read first.   

There are a lot of other features that people love/hate about the Kindle, but these are the ones that are relevant to me.  If you've been on the fence about getting one, I hope I've helped inspire you one way or the other!  If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments section, and I'll do my best to answer them.     

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