Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Review: The Amazon Kindle

I received an Amazon Kindle from Oprah when my book club was in her audience last month. If you don't know what I am talking about, you can read the story starting here and then the day of and my thoughts after.

After the initial amazement that we received a Kindle, I was leery about whether I would like to read on it (or any eReader). I just love the heft of books and turning pages and such. I am not a true book lover in that I have to have all the books I read or keep the ones I do read in pristine condition. I am so used to carrying around a book - since I was little and got in trouble for it in school - that I wasn't sure I would want to read my books on a screen.

But as it's definitely the wave of the future, as I had one and didn't have to pay for it or my first books, I figured I wanted to try it out and give it a fair shake. Since I was way down on the list for our next LOLAs book at the library, I decided to read Midwives by Chris Bohjalian on the Kindle. You can read my review of the book here. This post is about the Kindle.

Overall I liked reading on the Kindle. It obviously took some getting used to initially. I had to figure out what size type works best for me. I found that while I am sitting on the couch and reading, I can use the smallest type choice with no problem. But when I was walking on the treadmill, I needed the second to the biggest to not get motion sick. How cool that I could have those options!

The Kindle keeps track of where you are in the book. Automatically. You can add bookmarks of places you want to go back to for one reason or another. You can also add notes to specific areas of the book (great for reviewing books or for book club discussions). My son (I allowed each kid to buy a book - anything to get them reading and enjoying) likes to highlight the line he is on when he turns it off. Even though the Kindle automatically saves his page, he wants to know exactly where on the page he was. Apparently he doesn't want to take the time to re-read anything.

You do have to push the 'next page' button more than turning pages, but after awhile you don't even notice. The nice thing is that there are two buttons for next page so no matter how you are holding the Kindle, it's easy to hit the next button. With the different type sizes, more or less text will be on the screen so I made sure that when I could, I used the smaller type so I didn't have to hit the button as often. I also had an error (not really an error where it fussed at me but not sure what else to call it) where somehow I pushed something that sent me back to the beginning of the book without bookmarking where I was. It only happened once and I can't recreate it - if I figure out what happened I will be sure to let Amazon know and update this review to include the issue.

The Kindle is wireless, downloading items quickly and quietly. It is definitely faster than even my high-speed internet on the computer. There are so many books available to read, it's amazing. But there are also newspapers (which is a big highlight for my friend Julie), some blogs and magazines. And you can send items to it via email so you can read just about anything on it.

I have no doubts I will continue reading on the Kindle. I don't believe I will read on it exclusively at this point but I can see heading that way in the future. My biggest issue is that I generally don't buy books to read. I either get them from the library or from friends. I buy less than 10 books a year for myself (10 actually seems high). So it will be a switch to buying books, even though it is cheaper to buy on the Kindle than paper books. And since I cannot give this book away when I am done, the money seems to be an issue for me right now.

I can see using this exclusively when I travel. I usually travel with lots of books and with the Kindle only being 10 ounces, that would seriously cut down on the weight in my bags and the space needed. I would have loved to take this to Hawaii in March - I took 10 books with me that week! Plus since I can have my books along with the kids books on here, it's great to slip into my purse and use as a distraction for them if needed. The only drawback for that is we only have one!

My thoughts are if you are a book buyer but not in love with bulging book shelves, the Kindle is for you. If you are tired of carrying around heavy or bulky books, this is for you. If we can convince the libraries to rent books via the eReaders, this will be for ALL of us. (Can you imagine? No waiting for a book that you want from the library? It makes me all tingly!)

I am excited to keep reading on my Kindle and see how the technology changes my reading habits over time. And to see how books and the book market changes as more folks get interested in eReaders, including the Kindle.

If you have a Kindle or other eReader, let me know what you think. I'd love to chat about it some more!


Shana said...

Michele, I've been looking forward to your review of the Kindle.

I think I would feel very similarly to you. It would be great for travel, and I wouldn't have a problem with not having the book physically on my shelves for the most part.

Now, that said, I think if I read a book I absolutely loved on the Kindle, I'd have to buy a copy for my bookshelves. I've done that with several audiobooks.

I have a friend whose husband reads almost exclusively on his Kindle.


bermudaonion said...

Great review, Michele. It almost makes me want to buy a Kindle. I say almost, because like you, if I buy a book, I want to share it when I'm done. If you put the book on a data card can someone else with a Kindle read it? My sister has a Kindle and her 2 complaints are that it's not backlit and that the page turning button is too easy to hit by mistake.

Michele said...

Thanks ladies!

Shana - I can see myself becoming more attached to the Kindle as time goes on. My boy is completely hooked! I think he reads on it more than any of us.

Kathy - I'm not so much into sharing it. I tend to just send my books to goodwill or something so I am okay with that part. But wanted to discuss in my review. The backlit part Jeff Bezos addressed at the Oprah show. He said studies have shown that the backlighting on computers gives headaches and other issues for people. The Kindle is a new electronic ink screen (maybe not the right term) that will keep folks from getting headaches while reading. My friend is planning on buying a book light to just clip on to her kindle for night reading. I've not had any issues with the lighting anywhere I've read. And yes, the next page button is easy to hit. But that also means it's easy to move on to the next page without having to work hard on it. I only had issues with that at the beginning.

Steve said...

I enjoyed your review, Michele. It's coming on a year now that I have had my Kindle and one of the things that keeps me jazzed about it -- aside from all the reading I do on it -- is all the ways that people are making the Kindle the centerpiece of reading community. Reading clubs, blogging about books we have read in Kindle form, etc. Oprah made my day when she devoted her entire show to it, because it has had a huge effect on Kindle participation and also, I am happy to admit, on sales of my guide for Kindle users :-) - I'm going to send you a copy in electronic form so you can put it on your Kindle if you'd like to.

Keep Kindling,
Stephen Windwalker

Julie said...

Michele - great review! I think the page buttons are easy to hit by accident too. Not so much when you are settled in and reading, but if you are just picking it up or something like that. Maybe I should be using the case more?

Personally, I like the screen not being back lit. It is easy on the eyes.

My only small problem is that I don't have very good coverage for the connection here at my house. I think it uses Sprint - I saw a coverage map somewhere and I was surprised how much white (non-covered) area it had on it.

Ang said...

Hey Michele - I enjoyed reading the review. What really turns me off about the Kindle is the price tag. I just REFUSE to pay that much for it. Now, if I were to go on Oprah like you did... :) But even then, I'm not sure how much I'd want to spend on loading it up with readables. Like you, I maybe buy 5 or 6 books a year. Most of what I read is shared books with friends or my Mom, or library check-outs.

I don't know.. it's such a change from the norm. And I think that's where my hangup lies...

Anyway, good to read your review!

Dawn @ sheIsTooFondOfBooks said...

Hey, Michele - I got a Kindle for my husband. He travels a lot, and it has been great for him on the road - lightweight, Whispernet downloading is cool (the fact that you can read the first full chapter of most books before buying the full book is a big plus).

I've looked at his, think it's neat, but won't buy one for myself (I can't justify the pricetag, and I love my books!)

I like that it's not backlit; J. says it's much easier on the eyes.

Thanks for a full informative review!

LisaMM said...

Wow, sounds great. You answered the questions I had in my mind about it (like being able to keep your page, highlight, make comments, etc.) Thanks!

Red lady-Bonnie said...


I was so excited to see your Kindle review! I am just getting to reading it as I got backlogged in my google reader. It's been a busy week! It sounds like a fun gadget to supplement reading in traveling and on the treadmill!
I am still tempted by it but the pricetag sways me! I also don't buy a lot of books like you and would spend more $ on books. I do use paperbackswap and other trading sites and still pay postage costs and would save there. My husband said that he would be happy to buy me a Kindle if it reduces the number of books that I have in the house!! I have to see how I would work that out!LOL! I like to hear that your son really likes reading on it. I could see my son enjoying it as well. Thanks for sharing your review with us!! Keep us posted on any updates.