February 13, 2011

My experience with the Kindle

Few of my friends have considered buying a Kindle and are hesitating because they are not sure what they are getting into.  They aren't sure, for example, if the Kindle can give them a good reading experience without the "feel" of holding a paper book.  This post is a short summary of my experience with the Kindle.  (I have a Kindle 2, by the way.)

First, the negatives.  Turning pages is slow.  It works pretty well when we are reading normally, so you won't notice it most of the times.  But it feels very slow when we want to hop back 2 pages to take a momentary look and continue reading from the current position immediately after.  Books with complex layouts (e.g. books with code) can be difficult to read.  It's just not possible to lend books to your friends.  And not all books are available in the Kindle format.

Now the positives.  It's amazingly light and extremely portable.  I read Anna Karenina using the Kindle.  I can't imagine carrying a fat heavy paper book everywhere I go.  Because Kindle lets me take notes on the device itself, collecting quotes is really simple.  I'd just highlight interesting quotes as I read and they'd magically appear on my Kindle page on the Amazon's site.

It might sound strange but I choose books based (also) on their typography.  If a book uses an ugly font (Arial!) or very small text size, I usually won't buy it.  Long back, I bought a copy of The Fountainhead but never could read more than a few pages until I gave it away a few weeks back.  All because of its tiny font size.  Kindle, because it allows me to change the text size to suit my eyes, solves this problem completely.

True, Kindle doesn't have a backlight so it's not possible to read when it's dark.  There are several solutions to the problem.  You can buy a case with an attached reading light.  Or you can read using the Kindle app on any of your other devices.  Because the Kindle and these apps always sync to the cloud, they automatically take you to the last page you were reading across all devices -- this is a pretty cool feature.

I am not a native English speaker, and my vocabulary isn't great.  Every time I read a book in English I need to look up hundreds of words on the dictionary.  Either that would be a distraction and would take up a lot of time.  Or I'd read on without fully appreciating what's being said.  Kindle has a built-in dictionary that's very well integrated with the device.  It's fast and doesn't require net connection.  It saves me a lot of time and provides an improved reading experience.

I once thought I would miss paper books after using the Kindle as my primary reading device.  On the contrary, I often miss the Kindle now when I have to read paper books!

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