So i finally got my Kindle.
First off what the hell is it? The Amazon Kindle is an e-book reader. An e-book reader is a device that allows you to read books that are in an electronic format in a way that is aimed at maximizing your reading experience. If you’ve tried reading books on a computer you’ll have encountered at least some of the following problems; portability, strain on the eyes, uncomfortable reading positions, distractions etc.
An e-book reader puts your e-book in a situation as close to a real book as you can make it without sneaking 500 printouts from your office computer. Hardcore readers will find one very useful. Although there are tons of e-book readers out there, the Kindle was the first one to go mainstream. What i have is version 3.
Its pretty simple, you load your books onto it via computer. Or you can use Amazon’s whispernet service to directly download the books you buy from Amazon.com via Wi-fi. The K3 has a 3G version as well but 3G services do not extend to Sri Lanka because there is no local service provider to support it.
First time i picked it up and started reading i wondered if it really was as great as they said it was. It only took a little bit of getting used to though, and now i’m pretty much a big fan. Its lighter than a paperback, smaller than most and can be easily held and operated with one hand.
Some 3.5GB of space means that you can carry more than 3000 books, thats pretty much your whole library along with you. I didn’t realize how cool this was until I wanted to switch books in mid-read. No getting up and hunting for the thing or cursing myself for not bringing an extra traveling bag with the ten other books I was reading simultaneously; a couple of clicks, and i’m reading what I wanted.
You can take it anywhere you want. Put it in a protective case, shove it in your bag and you’re good. The battery lasts a supposedly 3-4weeks on the Wi-fi version. That’s good even for long drawn forays into outer space (that last for 3 or 4 weeks).
The high contrast screen (much advertised) is fine to read books on. As you can see from the pic below, there isn’t much of a difference. And yes, you CAN read it in bright sunlight, but the screen is not backlit so you can’t read it in the dark. Amazon also offers a range of kindle covers that come with a LED lamp that you can use to read in the dark but it will cost you a pretty rupee or two.
hard to tell the difference
Navigation could be better, i’m currently trying to figure out an easy way of sifting through the books on the device. So far the best way seems to enter a keyword to search for it. Something i like is the search and highlight features. You can search for any word or phrase and the device pulls up every occurrence of it in your whole library in seconds. Useful if you’re trying to track down an interesting passage and can’t remember where you read it. You can also highlight sections of text and add notes, much like going at a real book with pencil, except you don’t feel guilty at its desecration.
The portability i love. When i read lying down i sometimes read on my side. And with a regular book this means that i have to turn over to my other side when i flip the page, not fun if i’m already sleepy. The Kindle eliminates that problem. Wahoo!
Where to get books
Now the biggie, you’ve got your Kindle which you spent a good chunk of your income for and now you’re looking for books to read. Well there are two ways you can go, legit or illegit. Tons of books are available for download on torrents. A bit of googling will sort you out soon.
Slimmer than your average drug addict
The Kindle supports a few common e-book formats. Lit, PDF(not so great), text, mobi and Amazon’s own e-book formats. EPUB, one of the most common formats used, is not readable. But if you get yourself a good e-book management software, i suggest Calibre, you can easily convert any file format into a Kindle compatible one (Mobi is the best). The software also allows you to organize and manage your collection and can even sync with the Kindle and act as an interface between the kindle and your device. Useful because the Kindle doesn’t have its own software system for your PC like the I-pod does.
Amazon also sells e-books at prices lower than their paperbacks. Most new releases come out in e-book format as well and you’ll only need a few seconds to buy it. Amazon offers great free previews of upcoming books and also has a large collection of free and cut price e-books. The availability of books will change depending on where you live and books bought off Amazon are DRM protected and can only be read on one device.
There are online libraries that have massive collections of free books. Manybooks and the Internet Archive are goods places to start.
Buying a Reader
There are a lot of other e-book readers out there and Barnes and Noble’s Nook is the closest behind the Amazon Kindle. The Sony reader is another choice with a great range of sizes. A key thing to look for is readability, some people prefer reading on LCD screens but to some LCD screens can be irritating. Size is another thing you’ll need to consider. The Nook is more open than the Kindle and provides no barriers to transfer books between devices. They have also come up with a color version that looks pretty neat. Look for country specific stuff like do they deliver it here and what the cost is too.
You can buy the Kindle after a few clicks at Amazon.com. They deliver it free to Sri Lanka if you use Super Saver shipping. I am not sure about how the customs charges will be when it gets here though. Good for you if you kow a customs guy or can tip him a couple of hundred and get it released free. The Wi-fi only version costs $139, approx LKR 16k. You can buy a case for the kindle at the same time. I suggest going for a Kindle 2 case, much cheaper and not much different. Always pick items with Super Saver shipping, some items may not ship to Sri Lanka.
In Summary the K3 is a pretty great little machine and it is very good at pretending it is not a machine at all when you read from it. The dimensions, weight, technical details etc can be found on Amazon.com and a thousand other blogs so i stuck to what struck me most about it. To me, it is no different to reading a real book. The neat freak in me loves the organization and compactness of it. People who cherish collections of physical libraries might miss the point, and Babbage has a good piece on the illusion of e-book ownership.
Tree huggers can find comfort in the vast number of paper saved and carbon absorption ensured. If you’re planing on getting an e-book reader and have questions i can help.