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.
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.