Perspective of a First-Day Kindle Owner

Blake M. Petit: KindleboyAs I write this, it’s been about 23 hours since my Kindle arrived, and despite having play rehearsal last night and work today, I’ve already played around with it quite a bit. Sleep is for other people.

But for those of you who are sick of hearing me talk incessantly about how much I want a Kindle — rejoice! Now I’ll talk incessantly about having one! (Actually, after this first post I imagine my comments about the device itself will become rather sparse. Once I explain how awesome it is, I’ll be able to get back to actually talking about the books I read on it.) If you’ve never used a Kindle, or if you’re wondering what I think of mine, I’m going to take a few minutes today to tell you how the device is working out for me.

First, the pros, which are many. The eBook reader works beautifully. The screen is wonderfully crisp, and bright despite the lack of backlighting. (The lack of backlighting, by the way, is the primary reason I wanted a Kindle instead of an iPhone or PDA-type device as my reader.) It honestly does look like a piece of paper under a piece of glass or plastic. I can’t read long-form on a computer screen, but I’ve read this for up to twenty minutes at a stretch (so far that’s the most actual reading time I’ve had), with no problems whatsoever, and easily feel like I could look at this screen for hours.

Before the Kindle arrived, I bought three books on the Amazon.com store, as well as requested a sample chapter of a fourth. When I took the Kindle out of the box and plugged it in, it automatically began to download the files. You can’t ask for better service than that, friends. Later, I surfed the device for another book, which I bought without trouble, and bought the full version of the book I read the sample chapter of. More on that later.

As an English teacher, one of the best perks of this device is that there are websites where you can download virtually any public domain document for free in a Kindle-ready format. I’ve already got the complete works of William Shakespeare and healthy samplings of Charles Dickens, Jules Verne, H.G. Welles, John Milton, Rudyard Kipling, and many others on the device. I haven’t yet tried the book search, but I have tried the “note” function, which allows you to type in your own comments just as you would mark in the margins of a book. The best part of this is that you can easily find all of your “notes” in the “clippings” folder. I forsee this particular function making research much easier.

I also attempted the conversion software (the free version). The way this works is that you can e-mail a document of several file types to a special address which will convert them into a Kindle-ready format and return them to you so you can upload them to the device. I’ve done with with a couple of PDFs and one DOC file, and although some of the PDFs don’t quite come out clean (for example, you may wind up with page numbers appearing in the middle of the text, where it was in the file), none have been garbled to the point that they aren’t easily readable.

The controls and interface are all pretty intuitive. I quickly grasped just how pretty much everything works, up to and including the Wikipedia access the device offers. Unfortunately, I can’t get much of a wireless signal in school where I work (yes, I checked), but that’s hardly a fault of the device. Almost nobody can get cell signal in the building either, except for one certain provider, which is not the one the Kindle supports.

Now the cons: only a few, but they are worth mentioning. The biggest issue I have with the device is the lack of interface for transferring documents to and from a computer. The device has to be opened as an external drive, into which you have to move the documents from whatever folder on your computer you happen to have placed them on. Although I know Amazon is quite proud of the fact that you don’t actually need a computer to use the Kindle, let’s be honest here. 99.9999999 percent of Kindle owners are also computer users, and having a simple software that would allow for easy document transfer to the device and easy back-up of files already on the device would be very welcome.

My other big complaint isn’t with the device itself, but with Amazon’s functionality. I mentioned the document conversion e-mail. You can also e-mail the document to another address which will automatically download the file to your Kindle, but I haven’t tried that feature because it costs “a small fee.” I’m told the fee is about 10 cents, which I admit is small, but it’s really hard to find anywhere in the Kindle documentation just exactly how much that fee is. And even if it is 10 cents, if they’re not going to tell me clearly, I’m gonna be skeptical.

And one minor complaint is when it comes to buying books. The Kindle store itself on the device works fine. But as I was reading the sample chapter of Dan Simmons‘ novel Drood, then decided to buy the book, I was unable to find out the price of the full version from the “buy this book” tab, but instead had to go back to the main Kindle store. That’s something small that I think could be fixed easy.

Do I like the device? Hell yeah. Do I recommend it to book lovers? Absolutely. Is it perfect? No, but what is?

Excuse me. I’ve got some reading to do.

3 Responses to “Perspective of a First-Day Kindle Owner”

  1. 1 Anne Skalitza
    August 29, 2009 at 2:32 pm

    Thanks for blogging about Kindle! I only wish Kindles could show colors.

  2. 3 bigwords88
    August 29, 2009 at 5:30 pm

    Publishers are creating magazines with video content embedded into their pages now. Can your Kindle do that? Hmmm? Can it? Come on now, be honest?

    Sorry, I had the uncontrollable urge to take the piss.

    Hope you enjoy using it. There’s been some controversy over the removal of copyrighted works which people have paid for, so I’m waiting until everything has been sorted out and some safeguards put in place, potential glitches sorted… All the stuff that I can use instead of “I’m too cheap to spend money.”

    Maybe when I win the lottery. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog Stats

  • 319,665 hits

Blake's Flickr Photos

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

%d bloggers like this: