Monday, May 05, 2008

Should I Buy A Kindle?

I've been toying with the idea of getting a Kindle from Amazon after I start my summer job, particularly with my upcoming rush-hour commute on the subway. I've been torn between purchasing a Kindle now or waiting until the next version comes out (whenever that may be). There are a lot of improvements I wish they'd make to it -- especially when it comes to the controls and ability to natively read PDF files, but overall it still holds a lot of appeal.

Megan McArdle just purchased one and loves it! She makes me think my concerns about the controls might not be such a big deal after all:

All right, I've had the Kindle for a couple of weeks now. What do I think?

Love it. Best thing since sliced bread.

Yes, I have the same complaint everyone else does: it's easy to hit the "next page" button while you're handling it. Luckily, it's also easy to hit the "previous page" button; doing so has perhaps eaten up ten seconds over the last two weeks. Also, I feel like it could be slightly bigger.

Here are a few things she loves about it:

1. E-ink. It's as easy on the eyes as a book. Actually easier, because you can resize the text.

2. Newspaper subscriptions. I take three: the Post, the Wall Street Journal, and the New York Times. Yes, I could read them for free online. But that isn't like reading a newspaper; it's like reading a website. I read newspapers on the Kindle the way I read print ones, which is to say I at least scan each headline. This means I catch things I otherwise wouldn't have.

4. Portability. I am now never without a lot of reading material. Anyone who travels frequently should have one. But I carry mine with me everywhere, so I can whip it out whenever I have down time. It weighs practically nothing, and tucks in a smallish purse.

8. One handed reading. I like to read propped up on one arm, or hanging onto the pole in the train, or while drinking coffee outside; because I only need to hit a button to page forward, this is easier than doing it with a print book.

9. Space. My apartment is basically at book capacity. The Kindle means I'm not bringing more unstorable books into the house.

Cheap books. Forgot another benefit: cheap books. Kindle books typically trade from 20-50% less than print.

Follow the link for more.

Will Wilkonson loves his too. Tyler Cowen likes his for reading fiction, but not for non-fiction. Rob Bushway recommends getting one. Walt Mossberg and James Kendrick are less favorable in their assessments.

Here's a video showing more on how the Kindle works:

Lifehacker has an excellent write-up on how the Kindle can save you both time and money.

I'm sure if I bought one now, I could transfer my account and books over to another unit whenever a new version comes out. This would be a killer device for me if it could natively read PDF files (including graphics) for reading academic articles (and legal cases).

Like Megan, I live in a small space with a lot of books and my shelves are getting full. The idea of getting something like this is quite appealing in this regard. Also, the idea of one-handed reading on a crowded subway and always having a good selection of reading material on hand is also quite enticing.

If they'd make case books and study guides available for this, there's no question -- I'd buy one in a heartbeat. (And my back would thank me.)

I wonder -- would the Kindle do for my reading what my AlphaSmart Neo has done for my writing?

Should I buy a Kindle this summer or wait a bit before taking the plunge?


Juris Naturalist said...

I've been waiting, too. But since I am currently scanning all the supplemental reading for William's 811 Micro for the Fall into pdf right now, I might make the switch sooner.

effay said...

But, seriously, how quickly can you scan through a newspaper, or anything for that matter, on a Kindle? I just don't buy it.

I can see myself using it for books, but newspapers? There are just some times I can't substitute technology for the real deal and what would reading the paper be like if you didn't get newsprint all over your hands from those 90% black Macy's ads? It's like a badge of honor.