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So, you Kindle people...is it worth it?

 
 
dlowan
 
Reply Mon 12 Oct, 2009 05:08 am
It's about to be released for Australia.

The damn books will cost about 40% more than they do in the US.

A number of other companies seem poised to release a similar device...


But...I really want to be able to access books without having any MORE of them taking over my house.

So...what do people think?


 
sozobe
 
  2  
Reply Mon 12 Oct, 2009 05:43 am
@dlowan,
I'm tempted in terms of travel, too.

Don't have one, have been reading about them. The technology doesn't seem completely mature to me.

Interested in what people who have them think.
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Mon 12 Oct, 2009 06:04 am
@sozobe,
Review from David Pogue:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/24/technology/personaltech/24pogue.html
farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Mon 12 Oct, 2009 06:33 am
@sozobe,
I didnt realize that it also reads aloud on its own speakers. The availability of textbooks is what Id be interested in so that I could preview several books before I listed them as class requirements . Often, however, some newer texts arent even available until well into a class startup.

360 bucks is still a bit pricey for the way I treat stuff.
0 Replies
 
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Mon 12 Oct, 2009 07:38 am
@sozobe,
Hmmm...we'll have less books available, and I doubt we'll have the wireless thing.
0 Replies
 
roger
 
  4  
Reply Mon 12 Oct, 2009 12:09 pm
@dlowan,
Never used one. I did drop a book the other day. It still works.

I'm recalling the book Amazon released to Kindle a few months ago, without a legal right to do so. They took it back. I mean, they simply removed it from everyone's Kindle. It looks like you are not really buying a book; you are getting a license to operate software.

Boo. Hiss
0 Replies
 
roger
 
  1  
Reply Mon 12 Oct, 2009 12:16 pm
@dlowan,
I don't understand the deal on the pricing, either. I though the Australian Dollar had just has strong gains against the USD. Sounds like they're trying to have it both ways.
0 Replies
 
Robert Gentel
 
  4  
Reply Mon 12 Oct, 2009 12:44 pm
E-books vs. Paper Books

E-books win hands down except for nostalgia reasons. I love real books, and have always wanted to collect them. But my collections die every time I move. The boxes of books my parents kept for me in Brazil for years eventually were given away. Books are about as bulky as they come, and digital data really shows the space advantage here.

Other advantages to digital are electronic archiving and searching and a much wider selection. With a digital collection you can do things like search the text of your entire collection with a search engine. You can't do that with paperbooks. Finding a quote from an e-book will always be much easier than a paper book. The solutions to full library searching are still in their infancy, but that kind of thing is possible with digital books and just not possible with paper books.

As much as I love paper books, with the advent of electronic paper the readability issues of a backlit screen are solved, and they are now just as readable as a real book. Nostalgia and the decorative aspects of a physical collection, the ability to resell your books, and the ability to buy cheaper used books remain as the only advantages against digital. But in some cases the digital versions will be cheaper (e.g. for me in Costa Rica paper books are more expensive) and with digital stores you will have a much larger selection.

Note: roger's comment about Kindle revoking two books (1984 was one, ironically) is a legitimate concern about licensing models, but isn't inherent to e-books, just particular implementations of them. Obviously digital media allows for such restrictions but Amazon says they deserved the criticism for this and are changing their system to disallow them from doing this in the future.


Kindle vs other e-book readers


The kindle is very similar to the iPod. There are other music players out there, but none that have the iTunes store. In short, it is a hardware/software/store from a single company. There are advantages and disadvantages of both.

For example, the advantage to both is tighter and smoother integration. The disadvantage is less freedom, meaning more lock-in and proprietary formats.

So the Kindle distribution over the free cell-phone data plans they negotiated are quicker and easier than alternatives. You can be walking down the street and buy a book without having to go home and sync with your computer. It just works.

But at the same time, you are locked into the Amazon/Kindle relationship. You can't take your books and decide to read them on another e-book reader, and you can't always buy an e-book elsewhere and use it on the Kindle (the Kindle DX introduced PDF support, which mitigates this concern slightly).

So with all that in mind, the competition for the Kindle is mainly the competing offerings from Sony and Barnes and Noble with Google Books eventually being a possible winner in this category. Right now, the Barnes and Noble offering seems to be the closest competitor (but it's brand new) as they also are negotiating the free cell data connections and they also have a solid book store backing their offering but most of all they are using an open EPUP standard for e-books instead of Amazon's proprietary offering. Depending on how the litigation against Google Books goes, it too might be a strong contender for your digital collection. They'll likely serve as an online archive for your books and sell you digital books in an open format that lets you pick the reader.

Whatever you do, make sure you get one with electronic paper display. A computer screen is backlit, which is tiring on your eyes (though it has the advantage of serving as its own source of light) and is less readable. The electronic paper display is reflective, it basically is shaping ink on an electronic screen just like print on paper and you read it with light reflecting off it just like paper.

Conclusion:

In your shoes I wait for the Barnes and Noble offering to take better shape, and for the Google Books settlement. Likely a few more years but if you choose Kindle now you are locked in and it won't be compatible with future readers unless they change their strategy.

Given that you own an iPhone, you can already buy Kindle books and read them on their free iPhone Kindle app. It is a backlit screen, and much smaller so readability isn't the same experience but it's the best reading experience on the iPhone at least, and isn't that bad.

I would try the iPhone books for now (you can even get free classics to give it a completely free spin) and wait and see how the formats play out. Ironically, Amazon is a great open alternative to iTunes, selling DRM-free MP3s but they went the proprietary iTunes route when it came to their books. Go figure!
Green Witch
 
  2  
Reply Mon 12 Oct, 2009 02:13 pm
My niece has a Kindle and I have to say I was surprised to find it a very comfortable way to read. I especially liked the feature of enlarging text (I'm getting to the age of needing reading glasses) and changing the background to be visible in different light. I like that you can "bookmark" a passage for reference and easily find it at a later date. I would love a Kindle if I still traveled often - it would be like having a library with you. I have too many memories of being trapped on a 7 hour flight with a book that didn't hold my attention. However, I'm in no hurry to buy one. I get most of my books from the library, for pennies at garage sales or used via Amazon et al. Rare is the novel I want to own after reading. I gave away a ton of reference books in the last few years when I found the internet to be my major information source (I have no dictionary, atlas, encyclopedia or thesaurus) A Kindle cannot yet take the place of my beautiful, glossy art and gardening books - the only kind I still bother to buy and keep. I think of them like furniture and objects d'art. I know nothing about Kindle's ability to replace textbooks, but I could understand why that would be a major reason to acquire the device. My niece was of the generation that went to school with wheelies on her backpack because of all the books and homework she was obligated to tote around. She now carries around a lot more information in something that fits in her handbag.
0 Replies
 
farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Mon 12 Oct, 2009 02:47 pm
@Robert Gentel,
Ive told our executive director of the Geological Society of America that all the texts and papers they publish, they still have no wraparound system for producing e-texts. They seem to still have a pronounced investment in glossy paper and, except for the journals which are on tne internet, the bulk of their pubs are still paperback. I think that most tech society pubs are that way. ASTM is about the only big organization that has invested in the technology (not kindle but an easily retrieved and sorted mass of technical crap)
0 Replies
 
chai2
 
  2  
Reply Mon 12 Oct, 2009 03:11 pm
I've had so many friendly conversations with people over the years that started with one of us saying "What are you reading?"

When I've asked it, it's always spurred by a glimpse of the cover of the book, the artwork, the title, the author.

Seems like just another way to isolate ourselves from others.
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Mon 12 Oct, 2009 03:46 pm
@chai2,
Chai...I have so many paper books (even after EXTREME culling) that they dominate my space.

More will go.

For me, this is a goddess-send.
0 Replies
 
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Mon 12 Oct, 2009 03:48 pm
@Robert Gentel,
Thank you for all that information......very kind.

I'll have a look at the current B&N, but the Google sounds promising indeed.

I don't think the Kindle App would be operative here...but I'll have a look.

0 Replies
 
Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Mon 12 Oct, 2009 04:00 pm
@chai2,
Technology is a tool, it can be isolating or very social. It's what you make of it.

I think you are just a bit of a technophobe. ;-)
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Mon 12 Oct, 2009 04:07 pm
I can't afford Kindle and have read all sorts of quibbles against it (didn't check if one was the article Soz posted, but remember Nicholson in the New Yorker), but I wouldn't mind having one. I'm the sort who will study cereal boxes if there is nothing else to read, and I like the expanding possibilities that seem to be part of the future for it and other e-books.
ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Mon 12 Oct, 2009 04:07 pm
@chai2,
There was a good piece on the radio about this the other day. Toronto's considered a real "reader's town", and there was discussion of what's been lost to the community by people using various digital devices to do their reading.

I can appreciate why people might like the technology, and I know that we're a long way from the broadsheet, but I do understand the feeling of loss to the community.
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Mon 12 Oct, 2009 04:16 pm
@ehBeth,
One of the problems I was reading about before I posted this is that Amazon bargains down remuneration for authors and publishers.

I think this IS a problem, and makes me doubtful.

But....paper is also a problem...and space in my home sure as hell is.

Another minus is not being able to lend books out to friends. I wonder if Google et al will be less difficult about this?

Australian authors and publishing houses are apparently refusing Amazon's pressure for lower recompense, so I doubt much new Australian literature will be available....not sure re British.

sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Mon 12 Oct, 2009 06:04 pm
@ossobuco,
ossobuco wrote:

I can't afford Kindle and have read all sorts of quibbles against it (didn't check if one was the article Soz posted, but remember Nicholson in the New Yorker),


Ah that's right, another article I'm thinking of (but not the one I posted). That one made me anti-Kindle but then I read some responses to the article and backed off a bit. Can find this stuff back (NY'er article and rebuttals) on request.
roger
 
  0  
Reply Mon 12 Oct, 2009 06:11 pm
@dlowan,
dlowan wrote:


Australian authors and publishing houses are apparently refusing Amazon's pressure for lower recompense, so I doubt much new Australian literature will be available....not sure re British.



Good for them. If the rest of the jellyfish don't know what their work is worth, let them give it away.
0 Replies
 
edgarblythe
 
  0  
Reply Mon 12 Oct, 2009 06:28 pm
If I could afford it, I would check it out with a view to buy. Sounds good to me.
0 Replies
 
 

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