Well, I broke down and bought myself a Kindle 2. It arrived Friday and I’m just about to finish reading my first book on it, Scorpio Reborn, by Kenneth Bulmer, writing under the pseudonym Alan Burt Akers. Bulmer was actually a major influence on my decision to buy a Kindle. His Dray Prescot series of Sword & Planet novels ended at #37 in the USA, but continued for a number of books more in Germany. The series was actually written in English, however, and, recently, Mushroom Books began to release the remaining volumes to English audiences. Unfortunately, they were only available as ebooks, and as much as I wanted to read them I just didn’t think I had the strength to try that task on my laptop. Then I found out there were Kindle editions of the books, and, additionally, that a lot of the classic public domain ebooks I have are, supposedly, relatively easy to "kindleize.” So I bit the bullet.
Let me say I’m glad I did. The Kindle 2 is very well balanced so it’s easy to hold. It weighs about the same as a small hardback. Not all of that is screen, of course. The screen is a little smaller than an old Ace Double Paperback, but since you can change the font size with a couple quick button presses that doesn’t pose a problem. The previous page/next page buttons are well situated for ease of use, and the menu button and small internal mouse work very well. There is a key pad at the bottom of the device, with buttons small enough so that hunting and pecking is required, but they are spaced so that you won’t hit two buttons at once unless you really have sausage fingers.
Within fifteen minutes of opening mine, and after spending only a few of those minutes looking at the manual, I was already ordering books online from Amazon’s Kindle store, and was reading. Since I have an account at Amazon, ordering books from them was very easy, and they arrived on my device in less than a minute.
As for the reading experience, it feels different from a book, although I think that feeling will dissipate as I gain experience with it. After all, I’ve been reading regular books for over 40 years. The different feeling isn’t really a barrier to enjoying an ebook this way, however. I’ve certainly enjoyed the one I’m reading first. The battery charged up pretty quickly, and I spent several hours yesterday and today reading without experiencing any problem with a low battery. I think that’s going to really make this device handy.
I worried about the difference between reading on a screen and on a page, and I have noticed one difference. During regular daylight, the Kindle screen is at least as easy if not easier to read than a paperback page. I do seem to notice a little more glare from the screen under artificial lighting, however, and I think you have to be more careful to position the Kindle under a light source than you would a regular paperback. It has not been a serious issue for me, so far.
The Kindle 2 is not a book. You can’t stick it in a back pocket and you have to be much more careful about dropping it than you would a paper book. But it also has advantages. Instead of packing 15 or 20 different books to take with me on a trip, I can just take the Kindle. It also has a read-to-you function as well, which is actually kind of nice (although I hear there are likely to be audio rights issues with that). And my fifty year old eyes sure like the ability to change font size.
All you need to hook your Kindle to your computer is a USB cable, and then you should be able to move books back and forth between the two devices, and even download music to Kindle. I haven’t done these things yet so I'll have to get back to you on those tasks. In the meantime, though, I’m off to finish my first Kindle ebook.
Happy reading to all.