Monday, March 23, 2009

Amazon Kindle 1 Review

-Terrific reading experience. The ePaper technology without a backlit screen really does make you feel like you're not reading a screen.
-WiFi immediate downloading of books is wicked cool. Caters to instant gratification desires.
-The ability to download samples, the first chapter or so, of books is nice. Let's you read a bit and see if the purchase is worth it. Sort of like physically browsing in a bookstore.
-Size & feel are terrific, the whole thing is very intuitive. Within an instant of picking it up you know how to use it.
-The Kindle comes with a cool moleskine-esque case with the elastic band to hold it shut. Nice touch.
-There are TONS of free & inexpensive books both via Amazon and other sites. Mostly older public domain books which I ought to be reading more of anyway.
-haven't done this yet but apparently you can convert pdfs to files that work on the Kindle and then send them wirelessly to the device. That's pretty cool.
-The quote/highlight feature dumps the quotes into a "My Clippings" doc on the home screen which is a pretty cool way to organize quotes especially if prepping for a message or presentation. Instead of flipping back through the pages in the file you can access the clipping doc.

Areas of Improvement
-Amazon needs a larger selection of books. I tend to read around the fringes, that is, not necessarily the best sellers and what not. There are many titles available and more coming but unlike mp3s where you can get literally ANYTHING the books aren't as readily available.
-$9.99 is too expensive for an eBook. Most of the books you can get for a little more than that in the physical version and if you order a few you get free shipping! It doesn't make sense that publishers are selling their books for $9.99. Sell them for $2.99 and I'd be snatching up books left and right. Probably even books I wouldn't read otherwise. No brainer...lower the cost of the books. For $9.99 I struggle buying unless I "need" the book for school or work.
-They also need a way to add books to it that are already in my physical library, ala importing CDs using iTunes. I want my library on the Kindle. It'll take someone much smarter than me to figure out how to assure someone does own a book so that they can "import it" into the Kindle but hey... An easy way would be for Amazon to offer free Kindle downloads for books that have already been purchased by the user FROM Amazon.
-There is really no way to "share" a book like you might pass a book along to a friend when you're done reading it. There should be a feature where you can "share" a book wirelessly with a friend's Kindle for a period of time and then it sends it back to you. Or something like that. There needs to be ability to legally share. That's one of the beauties of books!
-A library service or ability to rent books would be cool. A subscription service or something like that.
-It's tough to skip around in a book. This is a feature that is important especially for like prayer books or the Bible. There may be a way to do it more efficiently but I don't know it yet.
-The book list on the homepage needs to be better organized. I set it to organize by author but sometimes it uses the author's first name other times it uses their last to alphabetize. I have two books by the same author, one is cataloged by first name the other by last so they aren't anywhere near each other. Booo.
-Amazon ought to give 50 free downloads with the purchase of a Kindle. Or 20. Whatever. It's a HUGE investment to get a device with...nothing on it. There are tons of free books as aforementioned but it'd be sweet to be able to pick NEW books.
-Let my books go! Make them DRM free! You'd think Amazon would have gone the way of their music/mp3 store and somehow gone DRM free. Of course they don't have the proprietary device for music and they do for books. Let the books go!
-The screen is cool but a touch screen would be cooler. We're getting so accustomed to touch screens it almost seems like a must. The scroll thing seems old somehow.

I'm delighted to have been given this gadget to fiddle with and use. I'm also glad I didn't drop $400 on one. Not worth it. Yet. Someday maybe. The 2 may have remedied some of these things, I don't know.

Love the reading experience on the Kindle but not sure I'm ready to give up the whole experience of having a book in hand. If Amazon could make the Kindle SMELL like a book, particularly an old one, that might go a long way to helping me make the switch. And until all titles are available on the Kindle a full switch just isn't feasible.

Also, for fiction the Kindle is great but for non-fiction, for instance for a book study with a group or something...not the best. There is a note taking feature but it's not IN the text, it's off to the side and you have to click on it to access the notes. For non-fiction I enjoy writing in the book. For those who consider writing in books anathema, the Kindle will be right up your alley.

I'd give it a B and ultimately all I can say is... we'll see.

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