Monday, February 1, 2010

Product Review: Amazon Kindle

Now that I've experienced the full lifecyle of my new Amazon Kindle, I feel qualified to offer my opinions on it. The Kindle is a way to carry an entire library of books in one slim, lightweight computer that looks and "feels" like the page of a book. It is very easy to use. You can browse books on from your Kindle just like you can from your personal computer. Because you are not paying for the printing and materials, you can purchase books at a lower rate than paperbacks or hardbacks off the shelf. Once you make your selection, you can download the book to your Kindle within seconds.

When I downloaded my first book, the download was successful, but I received a notification that there was a problem with my payment method. I was asked to either call customer support or go online to select a payment method. It turned out that was storing old credit card information and I hadn't explicitly set up how I wanted to pay electronically for the books I purchase for my Kindle. It was easy enough to correct online without having to deal with customer support.

At first I was skeptical about making reading off a computer tablet a habit, as I have always loved the feel of a paperback book in my hands. However, with my eyesight fading in my middle years, I find reading books on the Kindle to be so much easier than reading paperbacks. With paperback books, I have to search around for a pair of reading glasses, and despite increasing the magnification on the lenses that I purchase, some print is just too small for me to read even with the glasses. However, with the Kindle I can just pump up the font size to where I can read it even without glasses. This is such a nice feature, as I can now sit out on my patio and read with just sunglasses on my face to shade my eyes. I had actually stopped reading outside, because I couldn't put my sunglasses over my reading glasses.

If my eyes are really tired, I can set the Kindle to audio and have it read the text to me. My Kindle holds up to 1,500 books. I doubt I'll read that many in the rest of my lifetime, so that's plenty of space for me. My son taught me a trick in which I can browse and download classic literature from the website for free. When you find what you want to download, select the Mobipocket link.

The Kindle takes up less space in my purse than a paperback. I do recommend that you purchase a cover to protect the screen if you do plan to carry it in your purse, though.

If there is a book that you would like to see put into Kindle format, you can make a request. The Kindle allows you to highlight and clip sections, and make notations on them. This is really nice for me, as I like to review most of the books that I read.

I did notice that my Kindle was running out of juice and I had to keep plugging it in every few days, so I got into the habit of turning it all the way off as opposed to just letting it go into screen saver sleep mode. However, my son pointed out that the battery was running low because I left the wireless connection on all the time. Once we turned off the wireless connection, I could put it in sleep mode and the battery would last several weeks without needing a charge. I'm glad because I enjoy looking to see which screen saver comes up next. Kindle includes images of famous writers among its screen savers, a little reminiscent of Barnes & Noble's book bags.

If the summary of a book isn't enough for you to decide whether to buy it or not, Amazon allows you to download free samples of the book before you buy. That's the equivalent to flipping through the pages of a book you've pulled off a shelf, so there really isn't anything you can't do with a Kindle that you can do with bound paper. May as well save the trees, as well as some space in your house.

One way that the Kindle beats buying books in a store or online using your PC, is that you can download a book in seconds with the push of one button, and since a one button push is all it takes, Kindle also provides a Cancel button in case you accidentally hit the Buy button. It sure beats standing in line for 15 minutes or going through a series of screens in which you have to keep inputting data and waiting for your credit card to be processed. You can even keep shopping or start reading another book while the download is taking place in the background. However, I was able to download "War and Peace" in three seconds, so there really is no wait time whatsoever.

Just like with hardback and paperback books, Amazon occasionally provides special offers on Kindle downloads. Just yesterday I was able to purchase an entire suspense novel for just $1.59.

Oh yes, and I have dropped it on the floor already without any negative consequences, so clumsy people can own one too. However, if you are in the habit of reading in the bathtub, you might want to keep a few paperbacks on hand rather than risk a wet Kindle for the price you pay for it. I haven't dunked mine yet, but I don't want to find out what happens if I do.


The People History said...

I have looked at the Barnes and Noble Nook , hinting for birthday pressy , I do like the fact that it will read it to you though will have to check if the Nook does the same thing

thanks for the review I will have to check it out before I make my final hint well it is the BIG 60 so saying my eyes are pretty Cr### is putting it mildly


Leah Fry said...

EXCELLENT review. I don't have one and frankly had not even considered purchasing one. You make it sound quite appealing.

TCavanaugh said...

Thanks for your review...I have been very skeptical about the new technology. I may give it a try now that you have given it such a rave review!

Kate said...

Very helpful review - thanks!

Breathe said...

I've been contemplating one, I love the idea of carrying books with me everywhere and buying them electronically. I hate shopping in stores.

I may go with an Ipad (despite it's lousy name) because I'll be able to write with it too.

Mikey said...

OH that last part made me laugh. Clumsy people can own one too? SIGN. ME. UP. lol
Thanks so much for this review. I might not buy one right this minute, but it's on my list. I read A LOT when I'm not exhausted, but I hear ya, the eyes get tired. I like to relax while reading, not struggle.
I love all the stuff you told us, upping the fonts, and the audio (I had no idea it would read me to bed. Wait, omg I have a child. It would read for me?? Where is my credit card?!)
JK, sorta.
Excellent post as always. You rock girl. I'll end up buying one.

Tj and Mark said...

Awesome. My daughter suggested I get one as I am avid reader and also like travel eyes are going and being able to make bigger font sounds good to me. I didn't know about the audio selection. I wonder if it would be appropriate for my seeing impaired dad who used to read voraciously.

HorseOfCourse said...

Thanks for the review, NuzzMuzz.
I have been contemplating the Kindle. We do read a lot and we have a problem to get enough room for the books as it is!

The last two years I have listened more and more to audiobooks. It is so pleasant to have someone to read to you, and a well read book actually enhances the story.

Katharine Swan said...

Great review. I actually like the Sony Reader better, for several reasons. You can transfer ebooks back and forth between your computer and the Sony, because the reader takes an SD card, which for me is invaluable.

Amazon, however, uses DRM on their ebooks so that you can't ever use the ebooks you buy on any other machine. What happens if it breaks or when (not if) it gets old and quits? Do you lose all your books? The Kindle seems to be a major disadvantage in this respect, and actually represents a loss of reading freedom.

I haven't looked at Barnes & Noble's ebook reader, but it would be interesting to see whether the Nook has the same issues as the Kindle, or whether it is more like the Sony.

In any case, I do love the idea of an ebook reader!

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Katharine - Amazon stores your Kindle books on their server, and you can transfer to your PC with a USB cable.

Katharine Swan said...

You can?! That means I have been getting some very WRONG information from other people... GRRR. Thanks for correcting me! :o)

Crystal said...

Im so glad to read this, I had not wanted one, until I actually seen one int he store and thought the looked neat, but now that I have heard how they work, i am even more interested in getting one! Thanks for the review.

Fantastyk Voyager said...

Thanks for the review. I wasn't interested before but now I am. It can read to you too? I would love that for when I am driving- and I am always driving!
Are you planning on reading War and Peace? I'm impressed!

joycemocha said...

However, in a fit of pique, Amazon decided to pull ALL of its Macmillan listings because Macmillan proposed a staggered price schedule (somewhat like what happens now in the progression from hardback to mass market paperback). They're not hurting anyone but the writers by doing this, and they've not issued any official statement beyond a note buried in a Kindle board.

For myself, I'm using an iPod Touch for reading and I prefer it--fits in the pocket, works better for my day-to-day quick read grabs, and I can maintain my calendar, read e-mail, and other good stuff, too.

Katharine Swan said...

Joyce, I'm getting an iPhone and I was thinking about using it as an ebook reader. What software do you use for it on the iPod Touch?

Grey Horse Matters said...

I love my Kindle. I read a lot and it's so handy to take it with me wherever i go. I actually took it to the doctor's office today, so waiting an hour there wasn't too bad since I had my book and was reading Half Broke Horses that you recommended last time. Thanks for the reviews!

KD said...

Hey Nuz! Where are you? It's Thursday and no posts since Monday. Everything OK?

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

KD - I'm fine. I just don't have anything to post about at the moment. No horse stories, nothing new to review, and I'm trying to make more time for quilting, which means less blogging. I'll have plenty to write about once I get to Scottsdale, though.

Julie said...

I want one!!!!

Enjoyed my visit to your blog!

Katharine Swan said...

Joyce, I found an article about the incident you mentioned, Amazon pulling all Macmillan ebooks. Very interesting -- I hadn't heard about this until you mentioned it.

What is interesting about Amazon's petulant complaint that Macmillan has a "monopoly" on their own books (yeah, that's called owning the rights) is that Amazon has been trying to bully self-published authors into using THEIR POD (print on demand) services. As in, they were refusing to sell self-published books unless you used their printer. A lot of authors were complaining about this because it cost too much (they had to go through the setup process all over again, something they'd already done with their own printers) AND the quality was crap, to boot. Another POD publisher, Booklocker, sued them over it, but it's not very well publicized.

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

War and Peace? Really? When are you going to find the time...or the patience to read THAT one?! lol!

Great review, NM! Maybe I'll ask for one for my birthday in September. I have an issue with clutter and I always donate or give away books I'm done reading, as I just don't like to have shelves and shelves of books everywhere. This would fit in perfectly with my desire.

I also think this might be something useful to incorporate into our homeschooling resources, too.