New: Kindle Thoughts

I tweeted Reviewed an early-draft novel via Kindle. It worked well for that. Search was handy. Highlighted lines of interest. Over on Facebook, my cousin Sierra asked some questions about that. And Alex Soe had a comment, too. (Yes, I looked at Facebook today. I was out IRL with the high school chums yesterday and one of them reminded me that Facebook sucks less than it used to. So I looked at it today. It does suck less than it used to. There wasn't any Farmville-clone-spam. And there were comments.) Composing a reply in the little window wasn't going so well, so here is a longwinded reply in a blog entry.

Peoples' comments are in italics. My replies are not.

Sierra writes:

Is a kindle really worth it?

Hey, Sierra, good to hear from you. So far, the Kindle has been darned nice, but not totally worth it. It's handier than a paper book. The search feature is darned nice, especially if you think you're going to read the book carefully.

On the other hand, it was $150. And I'm a cheapskate. And... the library has paper books for free. Of the books I want to read, I can find most of them at the San Francisco Public Library or in the excellent Link+ network of libraries. Of the books I want to read, I can find some of them for Kindle. But not most. So I tend to check the library first.

So... I've had the Kindle for several weeks now; I've read several books meanwhile, but only 2.5 of those on the Kindle. Reading them on the Kindle was better than reading them on paper. Let's say my increased enjoyment was worth, uhm, $5 per book. So maybe I've derived $12.50 of value from the Kindle so far. Say I keep using it for two years, extrapolate out... At the rate I'm going, maybe I'll get $100 of value. I shelled out $150 for my refurbished Kindle. Trotting out the balance scale—darned nice, but not worth it.

(Yes, Kindle fans, yes it's my fault for not giving Kindle a chance. I should get into the habit of checking the Kindle store before I check the library. As more books become Kindle-ified, I'll have more incentive to check the Kindle store first, as the odds will be more in its favor. I'll use the Kindle a lot when I travel. The next time Neal Stephenson writes a book whose paper version weighs 20 pounds, I'll read it on Kindle, and it will pay for itself in reduced wrist strain. Yes, yes, yes, all valid points. But so far, honestly, I'm still thinking: darned nice, but not worth it. I'm glad I got it, but it was a splurge, an indulgence. Like out-of-season strawberries or something.)

Do you miss turning pages?

Nope. Then again, I didn't have a sentimental attachment to turning pages. If you do, you might miss it.

Is it bulky?

Nope. The one I have (a Kindle, uhm, Classic. Kindle I? Kindle original? I forget what they call it) is about the size of a, uhm, normal hardcover book. It's a good shape for something you want to hold for a while without cramping your hands, wearing out your wrist, etc. Newer readers are smaller. That doesn't make much sense to me—some of them look like my hands would cramp if I held them too long. Then again, I have big hands. If you're not a mutant, your mileage may vary.

I'm sooooo hesitant to get on the bandwagon...

Yeah. I'm not surprised to find out it's a popular gift—it's a nice thing, but expensive.

Alex writes:

Yeah, I heard good things about Kindle from my co-workers. Lots of them got it as Xmas present from their wives. It was also a hot topic at this year's CES. I am kind of intersted in the flexible-but-resilient, paper-thin e-reader. No more dirty fingers from reading traditional newspaper. Heheh...

Hey, Alex. Maybe the Hawaiian newspapers need to learn about the newfangled printing methods that have non-smearing ink. We have that here in San Francisco.

Wow, how awkward. I Tweeted, people replied on Facebook, and here I am reply-replying on my Blog. I can hardly wait until the Salmon Protocol lets us have this conversation in a not-so-disjoint manner.

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Posted 2010-01-18

 Piaw Na said...

You know about the Free Books Page, right? Most of it is crappy romances, but once in a while something good pops up, like China Mieville's "Perdido Street Station."

18 January, 2010 12:41
 mahlen said...

I'm with you on the SF library. Best way to read books ever.

18 January, 2010 22:37
 Alexander said...

I know about the bio-degradable non-smear ink used by major Essef newspapers, way before I left home for good. I refer to them all the time.
Too bad not all printing presses use it. Sigh...

IRT usefulness or worthiness of e-readers, I recommend checking the availability of one's desired books in appropriate format before investing in associated hardware. E.g. if what you want is on Google Books, then any device with a browser & internet connection should suffice.

As for me, I like hardcopy books (due to the collector spirit in me). Besides, printed material allows reading without reliance on electricity.

19 January, 2010 06:05
 sierra said...

Thank you for this, Larry. You successfully talked me out of buying a Kindle. You also talked me in to getting a library card. Less paper used since I am renting a book instead of buying, and I get the satisfaction of turning pages.

Now we'll see what Apple comes up with and if I change my mind again...

26 January, 2010 20:23