11 June 2009

Kindle Initial Thoughts

I'm now about two weeks into my Kindle 2 ownership. I have had a lot of people asking about my impressions and decided this would be a good point to share those.

The short impression is I LOVE it.

Here are some reasons why:

> Accessibility - books are easy to get and plentiful. The Kindle store has something like 300k titles available. These range in price from $.25 (Alice's Adventures In Wonderland) up to $9.99 (with some textbooks slightly higher). Additionally, there are multiple sites where you can get books in the public domain for free. I can go to the Kindle Store and enter the title of a book that I've heard about or that was a reference in the book that I am reading and download it or a sample.

> Easy on the Eyes - when I first heard that it was "like reading a paperback", I was very skeptical. However, I can tell you after several hours of reading, it is like reading a paperback.

> Dictionary - it's built-in! If you are not certain of the meaning of a word, or want more info on a topic, then you navigate to thw word and the definition is displayed on the bottom of the screen. Pressing the "enter" key will show additional information.

> Advanced Additional Info - from within a book, you can enter a search phrase and search multiple sources including Google and the Wikipedia for that phrase. For example, the other night I was reading Ted Gioia's "The History of Jazz". He referenced the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM). I typed in "Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians" and searched Wikipedia. I read the entry for AACM. In the reference section at the end of that entry was the citation for George E. Lewis' book "A Power Stronger Than Itself: The AACM and American Experimental Music". I then opened the Kindle store entered the title of that volume, and 45 seconds later it was on the Kindle ready for me to read.

> Changeable Font Size - there are six or seven different sizes of fonts from which you can select.

> Clipping/Annotating - I'm an "underliner". I like to make notes in books as I'm reading and highlight and underline. Kindle allows me to do this. Additionally, it places my notes/highlights into a "My Clippings" area on my Kindle and syncs them to my Kindle page on Amazons website.

> Search - from the Home Page of the Kindle, I can enter a search word/phrase and the Kindle will scour through everything on the device and display every occurrence of that in a navigatable list.

> Mobile Web Access - while not the best web browser in the world (nor is it designed to be), it works well for quick jaunts of text info. It is relatively easy to get weather forecasts, news updates and sports scores. It works well with Google Reader (my choice for RSS feeds). It also works with Twitter.

> Range of reading material - I have found myself exploring books that I would not have likely gotten around to reading. I have something like 60 books on the device and 20 samples (when I come across a title, or hear about a title that I think I might find interesting I download a sample of it to peruse at my leisure) and the topics range from fiction in the public domain to heady history and specialized music books. People that have Kindles have told me that their range of reading material has widen dramatically since purchasing a Kindle.

What I wish it had:

> Reference book - as mentioned earlier, I can go to the Kindle Store and do this manually, but I would love the ability to click on a book title that is a reference in the book I'm reading and have it take me to that Kindle Store entry.

> Page Numbers - Kindle uses a "location" within the book. I'm uncertain as to what makes something a location. Yet, I wish there were something that translated a location to a page number. That way you could actually do functional research/citations. As it is now, if you are reading something that is research for a paper, you need to go to a hardcopy and find the page. Either that or someone needs to create an APA citation method specific to Kindle. (That said.... There appears to be a national one debate regarding how one should cite passages. It seems to be split between use the location number and say it is the Kindle edition, and get a book.)

> Onboard RSS reader - while you can use Google Reader (mobile), it would be nice to have a built-in RSS reader.

All-in-all it is one of the coolest devices that I've ever owned. It is pretty neat how much information you have access to when you carry it.

Thanks, Steph, Emily and Caleb!

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

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