Should You Buy a Kindle?

If you use Amazon.com to purchase your books, or anything else for that matter, no doubt you’ve seen their oft-offered new product, the Kindle 2. The Kindle is Amazon’s own electronic text reader, which is able to display e-versions of books, newspapers, and magazines purchased through Amazon, as well as your own personal texts (ie, Word files) you load onto it. The Kindle 2, of course, is the recent update to the first version of the Kindle.

To no real surprise to those who know my tendency to be a technophile, I have recently purchased the Kindle 2 (I was not that attracted to the first Kindle). In fact, I pre-ordered it (one of Amazon’s favorite enticements—people actually buying a product before it’s even available! Amazing!). I’ve had my Kindle 2 now for about three weeks.

So what do I like about my new Kindle 2? Well, so far after three weeks of use, I can say there are several things I really like about it.

I like its unique screen for one thing. It is not a computerish, LCD-type display. In fact, it has no back lighting at all. It is what they call “electric ink” (whatever that means). It actually looks like words in ink on a page. So I have found that I can comfortably read it for long periods of time (much more comfortably than my computer or iPhone). And it is very easy to read even in sunlight, just like a real book. It’s pretty cool, that way.

Another thing I like about my Kindle 2 is that I can have, at least so they say, up to about 1,500 books stored on it at the same time. So I can always have my books with me when I’m simply carrying my Kindle (I also bought the well-worth-it $30 leather case to protect it).

I like the fact that I can subscribe to The New York Times and get a fresh copy of today’s paper automatically delivered wirelessly to my Kindle first thing in the morning (it uses a 3G wireless network from Sprint to download newspapers, magazines, and books from Amazon, a network usage Amazon pays for, not me). And I like how I can quickly find and download a book from Amazon immediately and directly to my Kindle.

I like how I can hold it in one hand and turn the pages just by pressing the side button with my thumb. Very easy, and quiet when reading next to my wife while she’s sleeping (no intermittent sounds of my fumbling to turn the next page that seem so loud in the silence of night and, I can tell, irritate my wife when she’s almost falling asleep).

I like how I can email any Word file from my computer to my Kindle, which is useful for so many things.

But there are some disappointments as well. The lack of back lighting on the screen means I have to have a light of some kind to read by at night, just like a normal book. And many of the books I want to read are not available for the Kindle, at least not yet. Some of the newspapers I want to read (i.e., The St. Louis Post-Dispatch) are not available yet either. And I don’t have a way to send my selected “highlights” to my computer I’ve marked in books to use as potential quotations or for gathered research. I would love to be able to do that. Perhaps there is a way of which I’m currently unaware.

So do I recommend the Kindle 2? Well, that depends upon two things: your budget (it’s not cheap) and your reading habits (or desired reading habits). It’s great for my lifestyle, and I’m glad I have it. Knowing what I know so far, I’d buy it all over again.

Thanks for reading.

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