When I bought my Kindle last January, I published my initial impressions in Kindling a New Reading Option. Now that I’ve had it for over a year, I thought I’d take a look back at how the Kindle has met (and in most cases, exceeded) our needs. Here is a review of my original goals:
- Did the Kindle handle my primary use case? Yes. My original motivation for buying it was to eliminate hauling a 30-lb box of books up to the cabin during my multi-week summer jaunts. The Kindle provided 10-oz alternative with a 2-week battery life. It also offered car-charging and free 3G downloads of new material when I headed down the mountain to do laundry at Tahoe. Two Thumbs Up.
- Can two people share one Kindle? Maybe not everybody, but we certainly can. And that is enhanced by the free Kindle apps that are available on other platforms. If the Kindle is not available for whatever reason (Rich has it, the battery’s dead, I don’t know where it is at the moment), the reading experience on my Blackberry Torch is quite adequate. And because of the Sync to Furthest Page feature, the transition from device to device is seamless. Love It.
But wait, there’s more. As I have embraced the Kindle and explored the Kindle world, I have uncovered some features and resources that are worth sharing.
Free Sample Chapters
Perhaps the most under-appreciated feature of the Kindle store is the Free Sample Chapter link, which is available with a single-click for most of the offerings in the store. What makes this feature so great?
- If you have read several print books by a favorite author, you might not remember which ones by the Title alone. By reviewing a Sample Chapter, you can quickly recognize if you have already read the book before you make a costly mistake and buy it again.
- If a friend has recommended a new book or author, or you happen upon something vaguely interesting in the Amazon Recommendations, you can test them out and make your own choice with no financial commitment.
- If you are browsing the book store, you can use Sample Chapters as a Wish List / bookmark / reminder for future purchases.
Although the Sample Chapter is a great feature, it is not without flaws and does have some room for improvement:
- If you are reading a Sample Chapter and decide to buy the book, there is no correlation between the two. In other words, it doesn’t keep track of how far I got and sync that up with the actual book when I buy it. It should.
- The Buy Now option at the end of the Sample Chapter is instantaneous – it doesn’t show the price (which might be more than you wanted to pay) or provide for confirmation. There is a workaround however – use Go to Store instead of Buy Now.
- If you buy the book, the Sample Chapter is left as a turd on the device. It should be smarter than that and delete the Sample when the book is purchased and downloaded.
One of the most exciting things about the Kindle framework is that it gives new authors a way to get published and recognized. Traditional publishing is expensive and represents a significant investment for the publishing houses – they aren’t willing to take chances on unknown authors. Publishing on Kindle provides a free and very interesting alternative, with the following features for the consumers:
- Many books under $2 (and even free)
- Instant ratings and comments provide feedback so we can easily tell if they suck or not
- Even established authors and publishing houses are offering free and cheap books to hook you (e.g. I got the first two Stieg Larsson books for $5 each, but I’ll probably pay full price for the third…)
Again, there is a downside – many books are being published without benefit of professional editing, which can have disastrous results. But that is why the ratings are so important.
So, how do you find out about these low-price offers? I subscribed to the iReader Review blog and over the course of the past few weeks, have filled my Kindle with free and cheap books. Not all of the emails are interesting, but it’s worth it to have someone else do the work of finding the deals.
Since Rich and I have both embraced the Kindle, I was exploring the option of buying another eReader (the Kindle3 has some tempting new features). I quickly concluded that the better solution is to supplement it with some sort of Tablet. The Kindle is as close to perfect as an eReader can be, but that is really all it is. It doesn’t make sense to have two when a Tablet would more than suffice as a backup eReader and do so much more.
So, which Tablet to get? That will be the subject of my next entry….