September 2, 2008

Four Months, Two Books, and a Weekly Magazine

Turning on the Kindle I’ve had my Kin­dle ebook reader for just about four months now, and as I sus­pected, the amount of book read­ing I’m doing is going up. I know two books doesn’t sound like a lot and some peo­ple read that in a week, but for me, this is a big dif­fer­ence. Before the Kin­dle, I think I’d fin­ished two books in two years, both when I was away on vaca­tion. And even though most peo­ple may read books more dur­ing the sum­mer, I tend to read fewer, as I’m work­ing and play­ing out­side a lot more. In fact, dur­ing the sum­mer I tend to start mul­ti­ple books and fin­ish none of them.

But the Kin­dle is chang­ing this, mainly because I’m using my daily com­mute and other travel times to inte­grate read­ing books back into my rou­tine. I’m read­ing less online and more on the Kin­dle. I’ve tried car­ry­ing books back and forth, but the awk­ward­ness and weight just hasn’t worked well for me. Plus, I like options, so I like to alter­nate between books and mag­a­zines, which just adds to the weight. On the Kin­dle, I have fic­tion, non­fic­tion, and Newsweek, so I always have some­thing to match my mood. And when I needed (okay, wanted) a new title last week, I was able to add it to the Kin­dle in about one minute. I do take advan­tage of free ebooks, too. It’s like hav­ing the stack of read­ing mate­r­ial that nor­mally piles up by the bed with me all the time.

Kindle I espe­cially like hav­ing Newsweek automag­i­cally appear on the device at the begin­ning of each week. I stopped sub­scrib­ing to the print ver­sion years ago because I couldn’t keep up with it, but for the grand total of $18 per year, I can get this eco-friendly, text-only ver­sion every week. I do miss the pic­tures, but I read it much faster and more often now. In fact, hav­ing a weekly cur­rent events mag­a­zine on the Kin­dle is chang­ing my expec­ta­tions of what I should be able to do with an ezine. I’ve found myself rou­tinely dis­ap­pointed that I can’t email snip­pets to friends directly from my high­lights on the device. It makes no sense to me that some­thing that has a key­board and is already on the celullar net­work can’t do this, but I’m sure this will change in the future. I cer­tainly expect it to.

Over­all, I’m really enjoy­ing car­ry­ing around a library of cur­rent read­ing with me, but there are a few things I really dis­like about the Kin­dle. The biggest issue is the place­ment of the nav­i­ga­tion but­tons. It’s just too damn easy to acci­den­tally hit the “next page” or “pre­vi­ous page” but­tons. And there have been a few times I’ve missed hav­ing a back­lit screen, although the clar­ity of the screen in the sun is still one of the biggest advan­tages. There’s a slight flicker of the screen when I “turn pages,” but I’ve got­ten used to it pretty quickly. My one con­cern is how well I’ll be able to find text I “high­lighted” six months or a year from now. Only time will tell.

I’m torn about the pro­pri­etary nature of the device, even as I want more con­tent for it. A few of the titles I’ve thought about buy­ing recently didn’t have Kin­dle ver­sions, so I didn’t get them. That’s not to say I didn’t order other titles as phys­i­cal items since they’d work bet­ter in that for­mat any­way. And luck­ily, a lot of the new titles I want to read are avail­able for the Kin­dle, whereas they’re not avail­able in other ebook for­mats. Still, I would much rather do with­out the DRM, and I’d still hap­pily pay for my ebooks (“Dear Pub­lish­ers and Amazon…”).

I’m ticked that I can’t check out Kin­dle titles from my library, but then I don’t use my library much for print books, either (par­tially due to the weight fac­tors I men­tioned ear­lier, but also because of some arcane poli­cies they have on new titles).

So over­all, I give the Kin­dle a B+. Rumor has it that some of the prob­lems will be fixed in ver­sion 2, although I doubt I’ll upgrade. For my needs (and YMMV), the rev­o­lu­tion­ary con­tent deliv­ery sys­tem (titles just mag­i­cally appear) and the con­ve­nience far out­weigh the annoy­ances. I can really sense the future of on-demand con­tent with this device, and I think we’re only a few years away from a viable sys­tem that lets the user pick and choose gran­u­lar con­tent from dis­parate resources that can be down­loaded from the cloud to a mobile device instantaneously.

Once in a while I miss the paper, but I’m look­ing for­ward to tak­ing the Kin­dle with me on inter­na­tional trips, and I hope it makes it that much eas­ier for me to read mul­ti­ple titles while away. I also hope to delve into some of the hacks to make my Kin­dle do more, but I haven’t had time for that yet. I’ll report back again at the begin­ning of the year to see if I’m still happy with the device and if my book read­ing is still increasing.

Be Socia­ble, Share!


  1. My ques­tion is: how long does the bat­tery last? Under steady usage?

    Comment by bibliotecaria — September 3, 2008 @ 7:21 am

  2. I’ve been very happy with the bat­tery so far, recharg­ing it about once a week. I only turn on the wire­less when I know I’ll be receiv­ing con­tent, though. I also keep the Kin­dle in sleep mode almost all the time, rarely turn­ing it off. This doesn’t seem to drain the bat­tery all that much, and it means I can start read­ing right away.

    I’m sure that if I was read­ing more hours in the day that I would prob­a­bly have to charge it twice a week instead of just once.

    Comment by jenny — September 3, 2008 @ 7:43 am

  3. I bought my wife and I a Kin­dle at the end of May. No lie, I have read 22 books (mostly fic­tion) on the thing this sum­mer. My read­ing has gone WAY up. Bat­tery has been no prob­lem. Mine has frozen 2x, it cleared with a hard reset (lit­tle but­ton back that you have to insert a paper­clip). I hear DO NOT let the bat­tery go all the way down, and I never have.

    My wife’s screen died, and Ama­zon sent a replace­ment overnight. Their cus­tomer ser­vice is awe­some on the Kin­dle. Put your phone num­ber into Kin­dle cus­tomer sup­port web­site and they call back immediately.

    Over­all, I would give the Kin­dle 5 out of 5 stars and I’m not an easy grader. Rumor mill has it that a new Kin­dle will be out soon, I am guess­ing they are going to upgrade the graph­ics capa­bil­ity and maybe add color? Hope that does not hurt the bat­tery life. I am fly­ing to Europe soon, not even wor­ried that the Kin­dle bat­tery wont make the trip, now it lasts 4 days or so (with the wire­less off).

    ~art spanjer

    Comment by Art Spanjer — September 3, 2008 @ 2:22 pm

  4. I have been think­ing about get­ting a Kin­dle for my 84-year old Mama for Christ­mas, because her vision is poor and most large print books in the local library are fluff. She is a retired pro­fes­sor and likes to read cur­rent non­fic­tion, which almost NEVER comes out in a timely way in large print. I am won­der­ing if the labels on the key­board are too low-contrast for some­one with some vision limitations?

    Comment by Carisse Berryhill — September 3, 2008 @ 9:35 pm

  5. Are the books of her choice avail­able in Kin­dle for­mat? If so, go for it! Although more and bet­ter non­fic­tion is begin­ning to come out in large print, it is still the pop­u­lar type of nonfiction.

    I buy large print books for a mid-sized pub­lic library, and I see the field chang­ing rapidly as the num­ber of read­ers grows. Your mother is not alone in want­ing more intel­lec­tual stimulation.

    To watch the field, you can try and

    All the best– Holly

    Comment by Holly — September 4, 2008 @ 3:55 am

  6. Retired. Writ­ing the sec­ond book. Heavy reader of non-fiction and a steady reader of fic­tion. Kin­dle owner for six weeks. Still eval­u­at­ing but a few hard pluses and minuses have emerged. First it is the clos­est I have seen to de-mystifying an e-gadget. Con­grat­u­la­tions to the design­ers, but they are still not there. Hand this pack­age to any com­puter illit­er­ate (yes, the mar­ket is loaded with these) and I doubt they could get it going by them­selves. And, I haven’t yet found a way to hold it with­out acci­den­tally fir­ing a page turner button.

    That said, I am deeply pleased with the weight,size, screen, font choices, abil­ity to load it with my and oth­ers man­u­scripts. That email sys­tem they offer for load­ing per­sonal files is smash­ing good. The user’s man­ual has so much infor­ma­tion and use­ful sur­prises that it is a must-read to get any­where near the full value of the Kin­dle. Among all the good things I leave unspo­ken, I have to at least applaud Kin­dle Cus­tomer Service–first class.

    Comment by Mac Laird — September 4, 2008 @ 2:16 pm

  7. I’ve owned my Kin­dle since Christ­mas. I have always been a heavy reader but arthri­tis in my hands was hin­der­ing me from hold­ing a book — even a paper­book. The Kin­dle was a totally pos­i­tive answer. I have allowed my bat­tery to go all the way down — the bat­tery will still drain slowly when you have it turned off — but I re-charged it and no prob­lem. There are some rel­a­tivly minor changes I would make in the design but over­all, I give the Kin­dle an A-. By the way, I am a retired librarian.

    Comment by Faye — September 9, 2008 @ 8:55 pm

  8. I’m inter­ested in read­ing books on the Kin­dle but I also want to be able to read all those pesky pdfs that I need to read. Can you read pdfs on it? Is it easy to get them on there?

    Comment by Nancy — September 11, 2008 @ 10:28 am

  9. Nancy, I am hop­ing to be able to com­ment on the PDF abil­ity in my next update. I haven’t done it yet, but I know you can man­u­ally con­vert PDFs to the right for­mat and then put them on the device, or you can email the file to Ama­zon and they’ll do the con­ver­sion and upload­ing to your Kin­dle for ten cents. Pretty sweet. That’s how I loaded “Lit­tle Brother” by Cory Doctorow.

    Like you, though, I think I’ll be car­ry­ing PDF reports around this way, and maybe even print­ing long web arti­cles to PDF for the con­ver­sion. It will make life so much easier.

    Comment by jenny — September 11, 2008 @ 7:26 pm

  10. Soooooo.…..what appli­ca­tions (if any) do you see for Kindles/e-books in gen­eral in libraries?????

    Comment by Sassy — September 19, 2008 @ 11:09 am

  11. […] in a recent post on the Ama­zon Kin­dle, Jenny Levine talks about how her read­ing habits have changed post-Kindle, and notes that […]

    Pingback by The Liminal Librarian » Blog Archive » The bookless librarian — September 19, 2008 @ 11:29 am

  12. Actu­ally, Sassy, I don’t see any at this point, because the license pre­vents libraries from using them. If Ama­zon was smart, it would work with libraries to get peo­ple hooked on the Kin­dle, but they don’t seem to be aware of how libraries help intro­duce tech­nol­ogy to users.

    Comment by jenny — September 21, 2008 @ 9:22 am

  13. […] Jenny Levine, Four Months, Two Books, and a Weekly Magazine […]

    Pingback by The 541 diary » Blog Archive » Too busy to post : ( — March 23, 2010 @ 8:21 pm

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