I recently bought a Kindle (v3). I bought the WiFi version (£111) as I don’t need the 3G connectivity. I also bought the Kindle Edition of Iain M Banks’ latest Culture novel Surface Detail. This cost £5, which is approximately the same as the paperback version.
I chewed through it in about the same time and manner as I would have done the dead-tree version. I was happily reading for hours at a time with no hint of eye strain. Due to its small size and weight and long recharge times it’s as convenient as a dead-tree book. As it’s not back-lit it doesn’t wash out in sunlight like a laptop does, so I was untroubled even when slashes of bright sunlight were coming in through a blind in the conservatory. There’s space for ~3500 books so that should mean I’m never without something to read – I’ll no longer have to pack a stack of books to take on holiday.
It remembers your place in each book, so it’s easy to switch reads. You can create additional bookmarks and highlight passages. It comes with a copy of the Oxford English dictionary so you can easily look up the meaning of new words.
There’s a vast stack of ‘classics’ available free from the Kindle website. I’ve often promised myself I’d read some of this stuff at some point, but now I can do so easily I’m left wondering if I really want to read Moby Dick (for example).
It has a built-in web browser, which I’ve not really used, and the Kindle can also read books aloud to you. This is surprisingly good, both at pronunciation and at emphasis. I’m not sure how much use it will be to me, but could be great (along with the dictionary) to help kids get into reading.
There’s a standard socket for ear phones and you can upload and playback MP3 tracks so you can have music along for the ride, although I’ve not tried this either yet.
I’d like to try a Kindle Edition computer textbook out soon – I’ve currently got a fair size backlog of dead-tree texts to get through, but they are so bulky and dry it’s often hard going. Being able to nibble away on a Kindle might be a much better way for me to keep up in future. And having them at hand when you need them (rather than stacked-up in an office) would also be good.
I’m not too concerned about the costs of eBooks at the moment - £5 for the hours I’ll get out of my first purchase seems a good deal to me – although I’m uneasy about not being able to lend or sell an eBook on. Copyright laws are based on preserving pre-digital markets: if I buy a chair (or a car or a whatever) I expect it to retain some value which can be recovered through sale. Having these rights artificially restricted seems wrong somehow.