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.
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.
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.
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?