Sunday, March 01, 2009

Kindle 2

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.


Anonymous said...

Hey there,

If you have time, I'd be interested to know how hard it is to get a pdf zine like Arkham Tales or M-Brane SF on the Kindle 2. If you get a chance, let me know. :)

Cullen Gallagher said...

Please keep us updated on your experiences with the kindle. I'm curious to hear first-hand experiences from someone who appreciates books as much as you.

Issa's Untidy Hut said...

Sounds great, Charles. Let us know how the music experience works, when and if you get to it. I'd be curious about the limited net access also.

The audio book argument is an interesting one but I believe it has been put to rest, philosophically speaking for me, by Neil Gaiman in this post.

The really convincing part is when he notes how much of his income actually comes from audio books and how he is totally for it. Of course, as an author, money is delivered to him by the boatload so the cynical might argue he can afford it. Yet, his enthusiastic endorsement of audio books and this Kindle functionality is convincing. I would add to his the point of what it could mean for the visually impaired.


Sidney said...

Wow, if it's possible for something to be "more" ubiquitous, the Kindle 2 is more ubiquitous than the 25 Things meme.

I thought seriously about getting Sony's reader a few years ago but passed. I've read e-books on my video iPod which has a tiny screen.

The Kindle 2 may be what probably pushes the world toward the E.

Spy Scribbler said...

Charles, do you know, I've never hooked up my Kindle to my computer? (Well, of course you don't.) I got it in October, LOL! It's just so much easier to email the file to my Kindle. There supposed to charge me 10 cents each time I do that, but they haven't yet. I'd willingly to pay it rather than go through the rigmarole of hooking it up.

BernardL said...

That is an encouraging review for the E-book market, Charles. You covered all the facts I had wondered about, including the battery. Thanks.

laughingwolf said...

glad your experience is positive, but i can't see me spending that kind of money on my limited income....

Greg said...

sounds pretty neat. i can't bring myself to buy one yet, but i'm glad you're finding it easy to use. the battery life was one thing i worried about. i heard about the audio rights issues too... people seem to think they'll be recalling the kindle 2 until they can resolve it, so it's good you got yours when you did.

Charles Gramlich said...

Nithska, supposedly you just send them to this amazon site and they convert them, although they do say that some PDF files might not conver properly. I'm going to try contacting them today because I've got quite a few PDFs I'd like to convert.

Cullen, I'll do that. I finished reading my first book on Kindle last night adn the world didn't implode so that is a good sign. :)

Don, I was thinking that and thinking it would be a wonderful boon to visually impaired readers. I'll check out Gaiman's post.

Sidney, it's a pretty nice experience. I certainly would not have bought one though if there weren't books that I can't get in paper available on e formats.

Spyscribbler, I didn't think of the email option. I do want to take the files from my kindle and back them up on my computer once I've read them, though.

Bernardl, no problem. Glad if it helped.

Laughingwolf, it was well over 300 bucks. I forget exactly how much. Ebooks are relatively cheap but still run about 5 bucks each so that does hit your pocketbook.

Greg, I hadn't heard about the "recall." That would be most frustrating to me. I guess I'd just keep mine as is. Hey maybe it would become a collector's item then.

Travis Erwin said...

Thanks for the review. I want one but sadly I have too many others things to spend my cash on for the foreseeable future.

Travis Cody said...

Hmmmmm. I'm not quite ready for this Kindle thingy. Not because it's not a good way to read. Simply because I love to hold books.

I'm sure I'll get there eventually. It took me some time to convert to digital music, but once I did I haven't looked back.

Steve Malley said...

Being outside the US of A and all, I'm thinking I'll go Sony E-Reader.

Mostly for the travel-advantage: my recent trip involved twenty kilos of reading material!

Miladysa said...

Last time I looked these were not available in the UK - I will have to check to see if that situation as changed.

When I first heard about them I thought "no way" - Now, after reading this, I'm not so sure. I suspect I will own one - sooner rather than later :D

Sphinx Ink said...

Cool! Please bring it to our Wordsmiths meeting on Monday night so the rest of us can get a good look at it. I'd love to get one of the new e-book readers, but that will have to wait. When I do get one, I'll probably go with the Sony Reader, because I don't want to be restricted to buying from Amazon. I don't think e-readers will ever take the place of traditional books, but they probably will come to be used as much or more than traditional books as the years pass and our world becomes more and more cyber-dependent.

BIBI said...

Sounds wonderful. I would like to invest in one. And hearing your experience first hand is great for those of us who love to read.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Thanks for the great analysis. One worry for me is that bookstores will disappear completely. With the reading audience shrinking, will bookstores become as superfluous as record stores have since ipods? I like things that get me out of the house, I guess. Movies at theaters, books at bookstores, CDs from stores. But it doesn't matter what I like--it matters what those 20 year olds like.

Cloudia said...

I'm sure Amazon would love to have your informative review on their site. I know I learned from it! Aloha-

David Cranmer said...

My thoughts rival Patti's. I'm glad you're enjoying though and happy reading.

X. Dell said...

Wow. I've read articles on this, but haven't entertained the notion of buying one yet. Now it's something I know I'd like to have. After all, it beats the dead weight of paper. And it's gotta be better than reading books on a computer screen.

I'll have to learn mor about this.

Charles Gramlich said...

Travis Erwin, They aren’t exactly cheep, though getting the Kindle and my first set of books was around 400 bucks.

Travis, I’m the same way, and this will never replace books for me. But I will find it a useful supplement that lets me read books that I can’t get in paper, either because they haven’t been published that way or because they are out of print and nearly impossible to obtain at a reasonable price. I will also read some public domain stuff on Kindle as well, since there is a lot available on the net.

Steve Malley, I’m sure it’s not that different from a Kindle. Yes, I have always carried numerous books with me on trips and this will be an advantage.

Miladysa, like I say, if it wasn’t for the books that I can’t get in print I probably still wouldn’t have bought one. But I can see some uses for it.

Sphinx Ink, I’ll try to remember. It’ll never replace books for me but I do see it as a potential compliment to books.

BIBI, I’d say I’m somewhat of a convert to e-reading after this.

pattinase (abbott), I hope that won’t happen. I’ve spent many a pleasant hour in bookstores. I for one will never stop buying real paper books because I love the look and feel of them, but I think this thing can be a compliment to books for readers.

Cloudia, I’m not necessarily a huge fan of Amazon. They have some policies I haven’t liked, but they’ve had me a bit over the barrel because of how much I wanted certain books.

David Cranmer, I doubt they’ll put books out of business but there are some good things about them.

X. Dell, It is SO much better than reading on a computer screen. Even a laptop is a pain in the butt to read off of. I do like my Kindle, at least so far.

Twenty Four At Heart said...

I have the Kindle 1. I'd love to see the Kindle 2 for a comparison. I love my Kindle. Love, love, love it! It goes just about everywhere with me. I hope you enjoy yours as much as I enjoy mine.

ivan said...

My book sales are down, down, down.
Dare I rekindle?

Diane Turnshek said...

Charles, what a lovely review. Thanks for posting.
My son reads for hours a day on his laptop--he changed the font and turns the screen sideways and white-on-black's the text.
I bought the same Bulmer books you did and tried to read them on my laptop.
Tried and failed.
I have a feeling that at some point, for the very same reason, I'll be getting a device like yours to read them.

Gary Dobbs/Jack Martin said...

I'm after one of these myself. I wonder if they'll ever become so common as that books go out of fashion. Charles you should be able to kindlerise the Chap O'keefe novel on today's TAINTED ARCHIVE.

Charles Gramlich said...

Four At Heart, So far I'm liking it very well. I definitely want to upload some of my old public domain doc savage and shadow books. Thanks for visiting. The main difference I think between the two kindles is that the new one is lighter and thinner.

ivan, I'm thinking about trying to get the Talera books up that way. Might help.

Diane Turnshek,the laptop was just too inconvenient for me, and the battery charge doesn't last as long as the kindle does. This is a far superior experience in my view. Thanks for dropping by.

ARCHAVIST, it's suppposed to be able to easily transfer most kinds of files. I have to find out more about it. Man life is busy.

JR's Thumbprints said...

I've read one e-book novel on my computer and found scrolling and page turning to be a hassle, so I'm skeptical about this Kindle 2 gadget. Be honest Charles, nothing beats a good old fashion paperback, except maybe when you have a shitload of them.

Virginia Lady said...

Great review, Charles, I doubt I'll be getting a kindle anytime soon, but like most new technology I usually wait a while. It does sound like a great option for reading on trips. Much less to carry.

Heff said...

I was going to ask what a kindle 2 is, but I decided to google it. Pretty nifty. Wireless reading. What will they think of next ?

Charles Gramlich said...

JR, Oh I agree absolutely. If I could have gotten the BUlmer books in paperback I would much rather have done so. In fact, I kept waiting and waiting for almost two years to see if they'd come out in paperback. It's only a compliment to reading books, not a replacement for it.

Virginia Lady, definitely some advantages and disadvantages. I don't want ever to give up regular books, but I don't mind having additional books availble in this format.

Heff, I'd say they'd come up with an electronic beer drinker. But where's the fun in that?

Erik Donald France said...

Charles, your point about traveling light with a Kindle2 rather than a sack of books is a powerful one.

Thanks for this -- I may get around to it like I finally did to an iPod.

Someday soon, it'll be nice to have large flat screen TV and computer capabilties bundled together, too.

L.A. Mitchell said...

Wow...I want one so much, but must wait until the price comes down. I imagine it might be harder on a guy since they don't carry a purse to slide it into--and like you said, they can't just shove it into their back pocket.

David Cranmer said...

I may wait for the next upgrade to purchase one. I do believe print will be seriously harmed at some point due to the march of progress. I guess for some that's a good thing but I'm still on the fence about it.

Rachel V. Olivier said...

I've been jonesing for a Kindle. I'm glad you got one and shared your experience with us. Now I really want one.

Sam said...

how cool!! I've been dying to try a kindle - it sounds like a good buy.

Stacia said...

I'm planning on buying a Kindle for my mom in a few months, so this is all good to know. :-)

Charles Gramlich said...

Erik, I'm still not hooked up to the Ipod generation, but maybe I'm ahead of the curve on the Kindle 2. Wow, it feels weird to be out front on anything techological.

L.A. Mitchell, I think they make carrying cases for it. I need to look into that. I don't want it sliding around in my briefcase so the screen gets scratched.

David Cranmer, well eventually things have to change, but I sure do like looking up at my shelves and seeing all those great books there. It's not the same to look at a list and say, oh yeah, I have this and that ebook.

Rachel,I was frustrated yesterday because I was at work for like 16 hours and didn't even get to turn on my Kindle. Sigh, darn this work.

Sam, I still have quite a bit to learn about it but so far so good.

December/Stacia, I thought about buying one for my mom, cause it can do audios of books and she doesn't have good vision at 92, but unfortunately she is really really anti-technology advances. She just doesn't want to learn them.

Chris Eldin said...

Thanks for sharing the review! I've been on the fence, but may break down and get one for the exact reason you said--ease of use during travel. I always tell my husband I'm only bringing a couple of books, when really I stash them between clothes and it's always more than a suitcase.

Sarai said...

Awesome! Congrats on the Kindle. I am having the typical issues with the Sony. Issues being I'm cheap and I can't find stores to purchase ebooks from that have it in the type I need for the Sony. LOL that and I'm illerate when it comes to technology!

ivan said...

Yes, Charles.

Put you stories on Kindle. It will help!

Mary Witzl said...

You went and bought one -- and you actually like it! Aieeee!

As far as I'm concerned, it's your third-to-the-last paragraph here that does it for me. I would buy a Kindle in order not to lug around dictionaries and other heavy books. One Kindle instead of 15 big old books sounds like a dream come true. But nothing, for me, will ever replace real books. (Sniff)

Charles Gramlich said...

Chris Eldin, I always seem to pack about 20 different books when I travel, and sometimes it's ridiculous.

Sarai, I considered the Sony. I probably went the lazy route getting the Kindle, since it is well supported by Amazon.

ivan, hum, I'm not sure what you mean by that Ivan. sounds like it could be blessing or a curse.

Mary Witzl,nothing will ever replace books for me either. I really wanted it as a compliment for my regular reading, and I think it will serve that purpose.

Barbara Martin said...

Despite the handiness of the Kindle containing 15 or more ebooks, I prefer reading a book. I'm certain with your praise more people who visted here will go out and buy one.

Keep us updated on your experiences. Eventually I will probably buy one.

Charles Gramlich said...

Barbara, oh absolutely, I don't ever want to give up books, but I don't mind finding a new way to enjoy those that I can't get in the normal way.

j said...

I haven't heard of Kindle 2. It sounds so convenient for travel.

I do enjoy the smell of a book though.