Friday, October 24, 2008

Long Term Review: Kindle

Since Oprah is set to endorse the Kindle, I figure it's also time for me to provide a 6 month review of the Kindle. (See earlier review)

I think there's no doubt whatsoever that the Kindle has affected how much I read. As of today, I've read 71 books in 2008, while in 2007, while for all of 2007, I recorded 44 books So the Kindle has probably doubled my reading rate. What's even more interesting is that it has also skewed my reading. Fiction is easier to come by for free on the Kindle, so I read more of it than non-fiction. Looking again at 2007, more than half my reading was non-fiction, while fiction easily dominates my 2008 reading. Tellingly, graphic novels which are easy to read on paper but impossible to read on the Kindle, got no attention at all in 2008.

All this also ignores all the fiction magazines I bought and read on the Kindle without reviews (I don't review short stories because it would be less work for anyone to read them than to look for a review of one).

I've dropped my Kindle, which chipped one side but has left no other damage, and used it as an MP3 player (only at night, not on the bike) during the Tour Across France, and the Tour's long French meals meant that the Kindle got lots and lots of use. Both my brothers have one each, as does Mike Samuel, and all our Kindles are tied to one account, which means that when one person buys a book, everyone else gets to read it. (Hint: tie your Kindle to a prolific reader's account, and you'll likely never have to buy your own reading material ever again, provided you have similar tastes) I have bought a second battery so I can swap batteries if I were to drain it, for instance, while sailing through Turkey.

Lots of people talk about how eReader on the iPhone or other smart phone is all they need. My response to that is that people who say that aren't avid readers --- the content range on the Kindle is much larger than that available on eReader. Neither The Snowball nor The Story of the Tour de France are available via eReader, not to mention the very worth your time The Trouble with Physics. For whatever reason, Amazon.com got their DRM model right, and I don't anticipate that content gap between the Kindle and the other readers to narrow any time soon. Sony's Reader might be the closest in terms of getting content, but the latter two of the three above mentioned books aren't available on Sony's bookstore either.

All in all, if you like to read, don't think about it --- just buy a Kindle (use promo code OPRAHWINFREY for $50 for the next week). Your eyes will thank you, and you will find yourself doing way more reading than you did before. Best of all, wherever you go, you will be able to read in sips, something recommended by non other than Stephen King himself. No more excuses for not being able to read 4 hours a day!
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