Amazon Kindle Review: Electronic Book Reader Pros and Cons

by Millie Kay G. on February 18, 2009

Somewhere on my PC, I have a folder with 30 unread ebooks. I’ve been reading ebooks on my PC for years; more recently, I’ve been using my Playstation Portable and Nintendo DS as ebook readers, too. But Amazon’s Kindle has intrigued me since it first came out and there’s a new version of Kindle that’s just been released. I believe now is a good opportunity to check it out again.

Amazon Kindle 2
Image by LenEdgerly

Our Amazon Kindle Review: The Pros

First off, I noticed right away that Amazon has a selection of books, magazines, newspapers, and blogs available for the Kindle. A varied selection is important to me, because I read a range of fiction and non-fiction each month. If I wanted to, I could buy the Kindle edition of a popular title like Stephenie Meyer’s The Host or a magazine like Forbes. With Kindle, I could also keep up with the Wall Street Journal or my favorite blogs like Slashdot.

There are lots of titles which are easily downloadable.

The Kindle doesn’t need my PC to acquire those new titles, either. Instead, it has its own free of charge form of wireless communication called Whispernet — so I don’t need to hunt for a WiFi hotspot if I’m on the road. If I’m in the middle of an epic fantasy series like Brandon Sanderson’s excellent Mistborn books, and I want to buy the next title, I don’t have to go through the hassle of running to the PC or the traditional bookstore. Instead, I’d be able to buy and download all the books I want through the Kindle, right from my sofa.

The Kindle is easily expandable, and can read certain formats.

The Product Overview says that the Amazon Kindle holds about 200 titles; however, I could add even more books with an SD memory card, which is readily available at cheap prices — I love the idea of having instant access to my ebooks. Plus, I can email my Word documents to the Kindle in case I have business reading to do. And the device can even play MP3s, which means I can listen to the audiobooks I already own. If I need to, I can go to Amazon’s Your Media Library section to download my Kindle titles again.

It can read ebooks from various sources.

Just the other day, I searched for free ebooks from and Project Gutenberg (the oldest digital library on the web) — the Kindle can read them, too.

You can try ebooks for free.

Another big selling point for me is the ability to read a chapter for free before committing to a purchase. I could’ve saved a lot of money on past ebook purchases with that feature. In addition, I like the look of the electronic paper and the ways I can adjust the text — traditional books don’t let me increase the font to 16 points.

It’s portable and highly convenient.

Although I like my PC and I’ve had a laptop in the past, they aren’t ideal for those times when I want to read around the house or outside. The Kindle seems like a convenient alternative, and a lot lighter to lug around than a laptop. Since it doesn’t even weigh a pound, it’s lighter than some of the massive paperbacks I’ve read, too. Plus, the upgraded version of this gadget is much sleeker, lighter and thinner, which will make it ultra-portable.

The Kindle Electronic Book Reader: The Cons

The Kindle is not cheap.

At this point, the major point holding me back from buying a Kindle is the price. At $359, it’s still more than a dirt cheap netbook and a lot more than the iPhone now advertised at Ye Olde Walmart. To figure out if the Kindle’s worth the price, I need to figure out how much I spent on books last year. New York Times best sellers and new releases are only $9.99 on the Kindle, which could make the device pay for itself within a year or two for me. On the other hand, if I only bought two books a year and got everything else I wanted to read from the still-free library, I’d have a hard time justifying the price to my budget-conscious family.

It has a proprietary format.

Aside from the price, one of my biggest concerns is the proprietary format the Kindle uses for its ebooks. What happens to my books if I get tired of using a Kindle or I lose the device later? Since I can’t convert the Kindle-format titles to another format (like PDF or DOC), then I’m out of luck: I’d lose those books. I want the books I buy to be my books forever, so I’d have to think carefully before committing my money to the purchase of a book with Digital Rights Management (DRM).

Could you suffer from gadget overload?

Also, if I wanted to share the Kindle with my family, they’d turn their noses up at me because they’re already preoccupied with a ton of other gadgets, from their phones to their portable gaming systems. Their backpacks just can’t handle one more piece of technology. Also, they’d consider the Kindle’s white design dull — they like their devices to have different colors.

One of my family members did try out an ebook on the PC, but ended up going to the library for a bound copy instead, so I’m not sure we’d all take advantage of a new device.

My Verdict

For now, I’m going to stick with my current batch of ebook readers. However, if Amazon drops the price on the Kindle (why not subsidize it like cell phone companies price their expensive phones?), I’ll go raid my piggy bank and upgrade my ebook reading experience.

By the way, Gizmodo has an interesting review of the Kindle that shows it in action. So what do you think of the Kindle?

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Beth February 18, 2009 at 8:56 am

I’m automatically against the Kindle because it’s not available through Many retailers like Apple offer their products through the Canadian version of their web stores in addition to retail stores — at prices appropriate to the Canadian market. (Trust me, the current exchange rate makes a huge difference).

I’m not clear how much it would cost me to order one since it has to be shipped here and go through customs. I’m not thrilled about having to pay in US currency all the time — and if I can order books (that is, copyright and juristiction aren’t a problem) I’m going to get constantly dinged on credit card fees and fluctuating exchange rates.

Besides, if I buy an e-book reader, I want one that works with my library’s ebook collection.

Seems like a waste to me. (For now, at least).

2 SVB February 18, 2009 at 9:54 am

Thanks Beth,

What you point out should be placed under the “Cons” section of this article. Yes, it’s definitely a disadvantage when the Kindle is not available at other geographical areas. Hopefully Amazon will provide more accessibility to this product in the future, as well as the ability for it to be more compatible with other ebook formats.

3 Lee Johnson May 1, 2009 at 11:58 am

I currently read my books on my eepc a 1 and 1/2 pound laptop. True it cost a little more than the kindle but it does everything a normal computer can do. I would like to find a program to load on the P.C. that would allow me to read Kindle Books they seem to have a good selection. If you know where I can get one drop me a line at also look for a Physician Desk Reference that I can read on the P.C.

4 Eric July 17, 2009 at 1:55 am

I live in Brazil, but still have an address in the USA. I only visit the USA once a year. Understand that the “anywhere purchase” is limited to the USA, but that in areas of no signal (and they still exist in the USA) purchases can be manged via the intenet/your PC. Does anyone know whether that is the case for periodicals? The International Herald Tribune costs a hefty $2/day at the stand or by subscription so the $13.95/month cost for the NYT is a deal!

5 Paul November 13, 2009 at 9:23 pm

I buy a printed book. I read it. I pass it to my spouse, who reads it. She passes it to her mother, who reads it. She passes it to my mother. She reads it then passes it to my sister. It continues to circulate, I don’t know how many times for the cost of 1 $10-$15 book. To accomplish the same amount of reading… since no-one will be loaning their kindle to someone else, would require at least 5 Kindles and the book would have to be purchased 5 times in electronic form. Over $2000 cost compared to $10. I can’t justify it until ebooks can be purchased and owned or the prices would have to come down dramatically lower than paper books.

6 Lonnie March 6, 2010 at 1:35 pm

I’m writing this a year later as I was searching for something new to read online (Amazon) and came across a new sci-fi book that looked interesting.

It was “Beneath” by Jeremy Robinson.

Then I noticed that Amazon only offered it as an e-book for Kindle download.

I blinked and switched over to Barnes & Noble and– No-joy. That author’s past PAPER books were listed, but not this latest Kindle Novel.

So this split my book buying pastime now into THREE different venues.

One– Actually go to a Brick & Mortar to look at what’s on the shelf because for some authors, particularly new ones, if you don’t type the name of the book or the name of the author in the search– you won’t FIND THEM. Plus Both Amazon & B&N have gotten rid of the straightforward “NEWLY PUBLISHED” listing and replaced it with “New & Notable” which is NOT the same thing. “NEWLY PUBLISHED” means EXACTLY that: EVERYTHING that was NEWLY PUBLISHED the Month. “New & Notable” can really mean just New & POPULAR. What you see could just be a list generated by Publisher Sponsorship and Reader Popularity Ratings. For this reason, I have found new books sitting on the Brick & Mortar shelf that I would NEVER have seen if I searched online ‘New & Notable’.

Two- Other Online book sources (and Bookstores other than Amazon & B&N) are dwindling or being subsumed into the Amazon Market.

Three– Now with the advent of the Kindle, we ae now seeing the true advent of Paperless Publications. . .

But not all of us have Kindle’s.

And if another Author only publishes a eBook on the B&N Nook, and that novel is NOT available in Kindle Form. . .will I have to have a Nook, too?

As a Reader, I have nothing against e-books. But being forced to spend $300 just to be able to read something I could just get for $7 goes against my grain. Never mind the possibility that if the Kindle or Nook malfunctions, I will have to pony up $300 AGAIN to have the pleasure of just enjoying a novel late at night?

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