Monday, 16 July 2012

Amazon Kindle: A Review

I got an Amazon Kindle for Christmas, and at the time I promised a review with my thoughts. It’s taken a little lot longer than I thought, but finally, I’ve used the eReader, and I’ve got my thoughts:

There are heaps of features on the Kindle. In fact, there are far too many things for me to comment on. But here’s a few I think are worth mentioning:

The best thing (or worst, depending on how you look at it) about the Kindle is the fact that you don’t need a bookmark – the Kindle automatically opens up the last page you were on. This is cool because, as I said, you don’t need a bookmark. This also sucks because, if you’re like me and have a large collection of bookmarks, suddenly bookmarks are obsolete. Sad face.

Another feature of the Kindle is its inbuilt dictionary. If you come across a word you’re not familiar with, you place the cursor over the word, and check out the definition.

Other cool features (which I’ve tried, but don’t really use) are the highlight feature, and the note feature. You can highlight words, phrases, and sentences using the highlight feature, and make notes in the note feature.

One thing that I wish my Kindle had is either the touch feature or the keyboard. I’ve got the original Kindle, but there’re other versions out that that have an inbuilt keyboard, or a touch screen. Either of these features would be great for writing notes. My Kindle has a five-way directional button, which makes leaving notes difficult: I have to move the cursor around to each letter, rather than simply touch it. That said, I won’t be writing too many notes, but it’s still a feature I’d love.

The Kindle is extremely portable, and I love this. It’s small and light, and therefore takes up no room in my bag if I want to take it somewhere. (I took it to university once. Lots of fun!). I mean, it’s not as chunky as a paperback, so I don’t have it digging into my back, and it weighs a grand total of 167 grams (compared to an average 400-page trade paperback, which weighs 450-500 grams, or an average 400 pages mass market paperback, which weighs 250 grams). The only downside to having a soft copy of the book is that, because all your books are saved to the Kindle, only one person can read at a time. For example, my dad wants to buy some eBooks. But… if he’s using the Kindle, I can’t. If I’m using the Kindle, he can’t.

Physical vs. Virtual
I love love LOVE that I can buy books instantly on the Kindle. If I want a new book, I download it seconds. When I was reading hard copy books, I’d have to wait until someone I knew went near a bookstore. Also, the Amazon website is pretty much the largest bookstore in the world. This means that any book I want is right there for the reading. No more “we don’t stock this book”, or “sorry, we’re sold out. Try again next week?”.

What I do love about the physical side of books is the ability to create TBR piles. I’ve had a look through instruction manuals, and I’ve played around with the Kindle, but I can’t seem to create a virtual TBR pile. This probably doesn’t matter too much for your average reader, but I buy lots of books, and they usually sit on a TBR for months (example: I bought the book I’m currently reading back in December). So, without a TBR pile I wonder how I’m going to remember what to read next!

Another thing is the e-ink. I’ve tried to figure out exactly what it is, and I’ve surfed the internet, but I can’t quite wrap my head around it. But basically, have you ever noticed you can’t see anything when you take your mobile phone, laptop, or iPod out into the sun? e-ink means this doesn’t happen. It’s like magic. You can read outside and actually see the words!

eBook Prices
I got a bit of a shock in regards to eBook prices. Initially I thought eBooks were dirt cheap – no more than $5 a book, but that’s not always the case. Some books are cheap, but the latest releases are about $12. This is lower than the bookstores, but no cheaper than my local department store. So I’m a little disappointed in that regard. I prefer physical books, so I’m a bit disappointed that I’ve got a Kindle when I can buy hard copies for the same price.

I remember once saying on Twitter that I didn’t like eBooks, and they’d probably never take off. But now… well, I think eBooks are the future of reading. So, if you’ve got a negative view on eReaders, don’t be a noob like I was: I encourage you to try one first.

The Amazon Kindle is amazing. I love practically every aspect of it, but if I had to pick a favourite part, it’d definitely be that the eReader is so damn portable! I would recommend getting the Kindle Keyboard or the Kindle Touch, especially for writers. It would make the Kindle just a little bit easier to use, in my opinion.

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