Tuesday, March 17, 2009


I've had my Kindle 2 now for ten days and so many people have asked me how I like it, I decided to post a brief review of the pros and cons of this nifty little device, as I see them.

* The screen is very readable and easy on the eyes. I've seen online in certain places that some have complained about the contrast (or lack thereof!) but I find it soothing and relaxing to read on it. As someone who spends all day on a computer, I need to give my eyes a break when it comes to recreational reading and the eInk screen does that beautifully. It refreshes quickly on page turns and I love being able to adjust the font size. When I'm tired at night, I can bump it up as big as I need it. When I'm fresh in the middle of the day or want to read more information at a time, I can bump it back down.

* Love the instant access to books (of course, I have a feeling my wallet isn't going to enjoy it as much!). It's very cool to be able to hear about a book, buy it with one click on the Kindle and have it appear a minute later. Like carrying around an entire bookstore in my pocket, something very dangerous for a booklover like me!

* I enjoy the pricing structure of books. I rarely feel I can indulge in buying hardcovers and I tend to usually wait until they're out in paperback or check them out from the library. When you read as much as I do, buying hardcovers new can be expensive and then you have the dilemma of where to store them all. But at less than $10 a pop for new hardcovers on the Kindle (with virtually no storage space needed!) that's not much more than the cost of a paperback. It's a little easier to justify buying them.

* Exposure to books I maybe wouldn't normally choose to buy and/or carry around with me. Because there's such a huge free backlist of books for the Kindle, from the classics to more recently released book giveaways by publishers, my Kindle now has 60 books. Many of them I would probably never have bought on my own but I'm being exposed to new authors and ideas because of the Kindle. Very cool!

* Love being able to carry a bunch of books around me and know I'll never have to deal with that dreaded fear of bibliophiles, having nothing to read! 

* Expensive. It's a big chunk of change to fork over for something that might be fragile and is already outdated technology.

* Actually, one of the things I think is the most cool about the device is also something I consider a downfall -- the experimental web browser. I don't have an iPhone or even a laptop because I can be too distracted by the Internet. I'm finding that out with the Kindle. Just knowing the world is available at my fingertips can be a distraction when I'm reading. If I'm curious about a fact I read about, I can immediately go online to read more about it on the Kindle. Last night I was reading The Art of Fiction No. 5, a fabulous collection of excerpts from John Steinbeck letters published in The Paris Review in 1969. I found myself curious about how he died and how old he was when he died. Five seconds later, I was reading the Wiki entry about John Steinbeck, which lead me to linking to the Wiki entry about LIFEBOAT, the movie he wrote that Alfred Hitchcook directed. And so it goes. For someone with a short attention span, the lure of instant access to information can be deadly when it comes to reading a book! That's the very reason I can't work on a laptop, just on my Alphasmart, because I am too easily distracted. I need something that lets me write and only write. I'm not sure I'm thrilled about having that Internet capability in my leisure reading device.

* Insatiable avarice when it comes to books! I just want to put more and more and more content on the Kindle and find myself looking all over the web for books I haven't read. So far I think I've spent more time looking for new books to load onto the Kindle than I actually have spent reading on it!

That said, at this point my overwhelming response to the Kindle is on the positive side. It's a very cool device, one I'm looking forward to getting to know better :)


Nancy Williams said...

Thanks, RaeAnne - yours is the most useful review of the Kindle I've read yet. One of my biggest concerns about it is whether reading on a screen would help or hinder my dear old eyes, which are hammered for the same reasons yours are.

Do you see a difference between reading onscreen on your computer, and reading the Kindle screen? By the end of the day I need a pretty strong light to read ink on paper anymore.

Also, congrats on finishing another book. You rock!

RaeAnne Thayne said...

Hi Nancy. I actually find reading the screen soothing after I've been on my computer all day. I never bought into the ebook phenomenon before because I just can't stand to read on my computer. When I sit there all day to work, why would I want to do something for relaxation at the computer too? I do enjoy being able to read the Kindle in bed, in a recliner, in the car, wherever.

And by the end of the day, my eyes are killing me. One of the best things about the Kindle, IMO, is that with the press of a button, it makes every book a large print edition if you want it to be.