Thursday, March 1, 2012

Kindle First Impressions


I got my Kindle Keyboard at Christmas, so I’ve been using it for around 9 weeks now. So, it’s time to share my impressions as a new Kindle user. I think most of the things I like about my Kindle are probably true of most other brands or e-readers as well, but I only have experience with the Kindle.

What I like about it so far:

1. I love the size and weight of it. It’s easy to hold in one hand if I want. The screen is a perfect size for reading in my opinion, probably because it is close to paperback book sized. I have both the Kindle and Nook aps on my Android phone and I almost never use either of them to read with because the screen is so tiny, I’m almost constantly scrolling. How easy it is to hold is the major feature that surpasses paper books in my opinion. Especially if you like long-ish books like I do. Have you tried to lay on your side and read a big honking book? There’s no comfortable way to do it. The size also makes taking it everywhere with you much easier than a paper book most of the time.

2. The e-ink screen. Speaking of screens, I also like the e-ink screen much better than the bright screen on my phone, or trying to read on my computer. Again, it is much closer to the experience of reading a paper book, and is much easier on my eyes. I have almost no eye strain reading ebooks this way. I suppose it might be nice to be able to read in bed without another light on, but I think I’d rather have to add a night reading light than to be forced into a backlit screen all the time. I can also read outdoor in the sun with no problems at all. 

3. The battery lasts forever. Since I’m famous in my household for letting my phone die because I forget to charge it, I find it very handy to almost never need to charge up my Kindle. My understanding is that if I leave the WiFi turned off, the battery lasts even longer, but I know I’ve forgotten to turn it off more than once and still, I’ve never had the battery die on me. I’m usually ready to plug in to add a new title well before I need to plug in just for charging.

4. I can add my own files. Amanda over at A Fortnight ofMustard turned me on to this great usage. I can add my own drafts to read over as I edit. I can add notes as I read, and having the document on a different screen lets me see mistakes that I may not otherwise catch. I do usually have to convert my files to a .mobi format since most pdf files I have are a little harder to read on the Kindle, but it hasn’t been hard to do the conversion so far, and I’m a tech dummy. Reading pieces for my writer critique groups is one of the main things I use my Kindle for.

5. The note making feature. See above. It’s very handy for my own pieces, and those I’m critiquing for others. I almost never make notes in novels I’m reading for pleasure, but I know some folks like that kind of thing. In fact, there is a feature that lets you highlight text, and see what lines have most often been highlighted by other Kindle users. I had to figure out how to turn that off, since I found other people’s highlights to be distracting and annoying as I read.

Things I don’t like:

1. The buttons on the side. I have to be very careful when I want to hold the Kindle in one hand, because I’ve pushed the side buttons many times when I didn’t mean to. Then I have to try to figure out if I accidentally moved forward or backward in my text, and how far I went. Also, the buttons were slightly unintuitive for me. For quite awhile I would hit the button on the right to go forward a page, and the one on the left to go back a page. That isn’t how it works though. There is a large and small button on each side. The large one goes forward, the small one goes back, no matter what side it’s on. Now that I’ve used it more I’ve gotten the hang of it and almost never mess it up anymore. In fact, being able to go forward or back without changing my hold is starting to grow on me. But it was a learning curve.

2. I can’t give a book to a friend when I’m done. This is a big hot button topic in the ebook world in general I think.  I know I’ve seen it mentioned many times as one of the reasons some people feel ebooks should cost less than paper books. My solution for the moment is not to by the ebook version of a title I know I’m going to want to hand off to my husband or my mother when I’m done with it. For example, my husband and I are both reading the Demon Cycle by Peter V. Brett. When ‘The Daylight War’ comes out, no matter how tempted I am to download and read it right away, I will buy a physical book to share with Robert. 

So those are my early impressions. I also feel like I’m actually reading more since I got my Kindle than I did before, even though I still mainly read paper books. After all, I still have a bookcase full of titles I haven’t gotten to yet. Maybe this is the excitement of having a new gadget to play with; maybe it’s all the pieces I’m reading for critique (I very rarely did this before since I didn’t like to read on my computer screen). I think it’s too early to tell for sure. I keep a reading journal, so later on, maybe after 6 months or a year, I’ll be better able to compare my total reading volume.