It was a generous Christmas gift, and I’ve been trying to experiment and work around my initial impressions, but so far any attempt to find a more positive angle hasn’t worked.
Let’s start with the consumption problem. When I buy a latte in a disposable cup and drink it, it’s been consumed. I trash the cup, I notice the expense on my debit card statement, and I move on. I’ve consumed something, and it is wholly gone. Books on the Kindle feel the same way for me. I can’t give them to a friend, donate them to the Denver Children’s Home, sell , or trade them. The book I purchased for the Kindle was the same price as a paperback, and it’s gone. I’m never going to read it again. From an author’s standpoint, this is a good thing: a single copy for a single reader, so a book will have higher sales figures, but it also impacts the ability of a reader to spread the book’s popularity by word of mouth or loaning it out. If eBook’s cost were lower than a paperback it might appeal to me.
The second problem involves the portability: I can use the Kindle to load up on books so that say, on a two week trip to Europe, I’m not toting around as much weight. But I can’t use the Kindle during takeoff and landing, two periods when I’m most likely to read while everyone else watches the belt bit or braces for impact.
I thought perhaps the vocal feature would be useful: I could listen to any book I purchased, but that quickly proved grating. It was like being read to by Stephen Hawking, so I’m more likely to pay for an Audible book that I can stand to listen to.
A friend pointed out that pdfs can be transferred over, but this did not work very well either. I have a lot of reference books, mostly historical, that could be usefully stored in a digital form, but the Kindle doesn’t handle viewing them very well. You need to zoom in and around in order to see the pages. This kills the pdf’s ease of use completely, and I’m more likely to stick with my netbook. This problem might be solved by upgrading to the larger version, but that would further degrade the portability factor.
I am sure that the environmental impact of printing a book and shipping it to a store outweighs the cost of transmitting it wirelessly to the Kindle, but I’m also tired of having to charge the various devices in my life. A book is perfectly serviceable. It does not require a battery or one more cord in a drawer.
These are my own impressions, and two friends swear I’ll come around, that in no time the Kindle will be as indispensable to my life as my iPod, but so far I have to say that I’m going to stick with killing trees and browsing bookstores.