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10 July 2008 @ 03:24 pm
Kindle is mine!  
My Kindle arrived at lunch time today, and I have been playing with it ever since:

There are a LOT of readers and writers on my f-list, so let me start this by saying, I have a lot of reasons for getting a kindle. I was very against the idea when it first came out, being very much a part of the "look, feel, smell" of real books crowd, plus the added bonus of "I buy a book, and it goes on my bookshelf forever". But the simple, sad fact is, that unless I win the lottery some time soon, my small house can only hold so many actual books. In the past few years, my bookshelves have gone from neat, alphabetized, and orderly, to a towering mess of books stacked three deep with no good way of finding any damn thing. I hate not being able to find a book when I want it, and we simply have no space to add more bookshelves. Yet every month, I buy more books to read, and it seems I want to keep most of them.

That being said, the number of "special" books I would actually cry over if lost in a house fire is much, much smaller. I could have manageable book shelves with them, even adding more every year. I am not giving up my beloved paper books, but I see the Kindle as a way to save me (and my husband, who graciously puts up with my book buying habit) from being buried under stacks of books. I read a book, on average, in two to three days. I'm reading all the time, unless I'm writing. This is far from my only reason for buying a Kindle, but being unhappy about the state of my books is the main reason. There will always be hard copy books I will buy. Just not all of them.

(That, and how cool will it be to read my own books on this thing? Hee!)

Okay, enough of that.

First impressions

~ First, it truly is the approximate size of a mass market paperback (as you can see in the above picture). It's about an inch wider and half an inch longer, but makes up for that by being slimmer and lighter.

~ It is impossible to describe the screen. You just have to see it for yourself, as pictures do not translate the look of electronic ink/paper well. You look at that pic above, and think "monochrome...yuck". But the reality is this: the technology for producing, particularly at a reasonable price, full color E-Ink screens is just not there yet. And also, the black on gray here is shockingly easy on the eyes. Guys, I am on a computer practically 24/7. I sit at one for work 40 hours a week, I write, edit, check LJ and e-mail at home...I can actually feel a difference when reading on the Kindle, the E-Ink is really that remarkable. I have seen people complain about it being black on gray instead of black on white. Have you picked up a paperback lately? Do so now, flip it open. What color is the paper? Yes, gray. Black on gray. I have no real evidence to support this, but - I actually wonder if the black on gray is easier on the eyes that the more stark black on white would be? An interesting question.

~ I have read the first two chapters of the newest Mary Janice Davidson hardcover (for the Kindle friendly price of $9.99), and I can already tell I will be in love with this product. I d/led it in under 30 seconds on my lunch hour, and started reading. I didn't have to drive to the store, or pay the hefty $23.95 HC price. And when I'm done with it, I can move on to one of the other new books I d/led. This is unspeakably convenient. You should seriously see the stack of books that is ALWAYS on my nightstand. I love the idea of having all of those books in one handy, slim package.

~ Yes, the page fwd buttons are in the worst possible location. But I've already figured out how to hold it to read without accidentally hitting them, and I've only had the thing a matter of hours.

~ I've also already sent a couple of books I owned as html files to amazon for conversion. They came out just fine, which opens up the possibility for buying ebooks not yet available on the Kindle (though amazon is adding more titles every day.)

I haven't yet tried taking notes or browsing, but so far, I am very pleased with it, and believe it will function very well in the capacity for which it was purchased. I see people bitching all over the place about "if only it were $100 cheaper" and I shake my head. That $359 is the last money you'll have to spend. There are tons of sources for free ebooks - the classics, anyway. And I won't be spending anymore on Kindle books than I already was on actual books. You don't have to pay a fee to download, or a fee for the always connected wireless. As far as techie gadgets go, I think $359 is pretty reasonable. Other, comparably priced e-readers, or even more expensive ones, don't do everything the Kindle does. And ironically, the same people who think the price is too rich for their blood probably own an Xbox, or a Playstation, or an iPod, or a Tivo...techie gadgets aren't cheap, and if you love to read, I think the kindle is worth it. (As an aside, you can bet that if I worked in the publishing field - ie editor or agent, reading tons of manuscripts - I'd have one and use it every single day.) And I can't tell you how nice it is that I will no longer have to pack three or four heavy books to get me through when I travel. :)

I'll write a more in depth review as I use more features, but for now, I'm extremely happy with my new gadget. :D
Current Mood: pleasedpleased
Fatemafatema on July 11th, 2008 12:28 am (UTC)
Very interesting post! Thanks for making it. I have a question: how long is the battery-life like? I don't know very much about the kindle since I haven't really looked into it, but since you've got it, I thought I'd ask. Also, how much can you store on there?

I bet that that's something I would like for my school readings and stuff because that's what I do most of my reading for. I'm constantly printing off .pdfs and such because I hate reading it on the computer. And you mentioned a note taking feature.

Anyways, looking forward to more reactions. Thanks.
rhienellethrhienelleth on July 11th, 2008 03:22 pm (UTC)
The battery life is supposed to be about two weeks if the wireless is turned off, and about two days if it's constantly on. I have yet to test this fully, but I'll report when I do. :)

Storage - the Kindle itself has 256 MB of storage, which holds about 200 books, but it also comes equipped with an SD slot. On the Amazon forums, there's a guy who has a 4G card in his Kindle, with 1G to spare w/a library of 3700 books!

i think the Kindle has HUGE potential as a tool for students. No more lugging around 500 pounds of textbooks! Interestingly, several colleges have already taken the step to produce textbooks for Kindle, including Princeton. :) I haven't yet used the notetaking feature, but you can also search for keywords, which I HAVE used, and it sort of acts like google for your library, listing which books use the phrase/word, and identifying passages that you can then go directly to.
KNOPE GROPE IS LAST HOPE: bsg - gaeta as they took his soulsarkastic on July 11th, 2008 02:41 am (UTC)
Thanks for the info about Kindle! I'll probably have to wait a year or two until the price goes down because I'm a poor college student, but this was very helpful.
rhienellethrhienelleth on July 11th, 2008 03:28 pm (UTC)
See comment above - I think college students are exactly the people who should have a Kindle. Several schools are already producing Kindle textbooks. Maybe you could ask for it for Christmas? Or at least get some Amazon gift cards towards one.

The only problem is, some math or more technical books don't display properly, but for mostly-text books, I can't imagine a better tool. You can search all your textbooks for one subject, for instance, or highlight text, etc.
J.K.Richárd: Bright!Shiny!New!neutronjockey on July 11th, 2008 03:39 am (UTC)
How stout is it? I mean, obviously you wouldn't want to drop it---but does it seem like it'll take a beating?

Also...warranty or extended warranty plan?
rhienellethrhienelleth on July 11th, 2008 03:32 pm (UTC)
Well, I suggest using the optional protective cover, for several reasons - it's easier to hold and not accidentally push the "next page" button, and it will help insulate Kindle if dropped. I imagine due to its larger size screen, dropping it would be very bad - not quite as sturdy as, say, an iPod, or maybe about comparable. I don't know. I use a protective case for my iPod for the same reason.

It comes with a 1 year limited warranty, and I can share this fellow Kindle user's experience from the Kindle forums:

"The small side bar where the silver row indicator lives cracked. Well, once it is cracked the silver substance that makes the square leaks out and you have to guess which row you are about to select. It is workable but annoying. I believe the damage was my fault and told customer service this as well. I was looking for a repair option that I was wiling to pay for myself. They immediately shipped me a new Kindle free of charge and I returned the broken Kindle. They were very helpful and responsive to my problem. I hope everyone is as a lucky as I. EXCELLENT CUSTOMER SERVICE!!"
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rhienellethrhienelleth on July 11th, 2008 03:38 pm (UTC)
Yes, I love my bookcases as well. It took me several months to come around to this, but in the end, it was the idea of having electronic copies of my library literally at my fingertips that won me over. But my initial response to an e-reader of any kind was very negative, I think in part because of the writer in me. It's been my dream since I was ten to see my name on the spine of a book, you know? The idea of "real" books disappearing fills me with a sense of horror.
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rhienellethrhienelleth on July 11th, 2008 03:39 pm (UTC)
Yes, ITA. A few months ago, I was very against an e-reader. And I very much do not want hard copy books to go away. But wow, I LOVE the idea of having my library with me whenever, wherever, much like my iPod and my music collection.
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rhienellethrhienelleth on July 11th, 2008 08:38 pm (UTC)
I don't think so, no. At least not for years and years yet. :)

One, ebooks have not really caught on yet, and they've been around for some years. They are beginning to rise in popularity, but slowly and almost cautiously. Two, CDs have yet to vanish even with the iPod and other MP3 players' success. Three, the publishing industry moves at a glacial pace about everything, and is more resistant to change than just about any other industry out there.

I'll be shocked if paper books go away in our lifetimes, personally.
Sasssashajwolf on July 11th, 2008 03:12 pm (UTC)
I want one so badly. I can hardly wait for them to introduce it here (no point in ordering from the US because Amazon doesn't have a wireless partner in the UK yet).
rhienellethrhienelleth on July 11th, 2008 03:50 pm (UTC)
Ooooh, I wonder when Amazon will introduce them?

A quick google revealed this comment from someone, not sure as to the validity: "The Sunday Times (8 Jun 08) said that the Kindle would be on sale in the UK "later this year"."

Oh, and another quote, apparently from the London Evening Standard: "For now, in any case, at the moment, the Kindle is only available in America. There have been reports that Amazon. co.uk plans to launch a version of it here in the autumn (perhaps using wi-fi, rather than a phone system?) but when I asked a spokesman for the company about this, he refused to comment, monotonously repeating we dont talk about future plans."

Gwynna Stargwynnastar on July 11th, 2008 11:59 pm (UTC)
That's one of my favorite Military Science Fiction series of books. I love Elizabeth Moon! =)

Gratz on the Kindle ownership. I"m sure you'll enjoy it for many years!

ext_110422 on July 13th, 2008 12:47 pm (UTC)
kindle social network
hi rhienellen,
i run an amazon kindle blog theKindle.wordpress.com and viewership has been climbing steadily and I’m actually launching a social network for kindle owners and book lovers.
We’re in pre-Alpha right now with the Alpha Release on 21st July (we’ll also be moving to a more book friendly url).
Would appreciate it if you would join and also spread the word to friends you know who love books.
More details at http://thekindle.wordpress.com/2008/07/12/social-network-for-kindle-owners-and-book-lovers/ including ‘3 Free Kindles in the first 3 months’ promotion and other information.