I got a Kindle 2 for my birthday--my mother sent me money for my birthday and I decided to spend it on a Kindle--and I like it a lot, for a variety of reasons:
- It feels and looks good: It's a clean design, and has a nice heft to it without being heavy.
- The screen is easy to read: The electronic paper has nice contrast, and the matte finish means you don't get glare in your eyes.
- You can adjust the size of the type: For someone who has to now use reading glasses all the time, this is a godsend.
- You can buy books instantly: Being able to buy books instantly from Amazon.com is a big plus. You don't need to finagle with downloading books to your PC and then remembering to transfer them to your PC.
I knew about these features, and they helped convince me to buy it. However, now that I've been using it for over a week, there are some pleasant surprises as well:
- It's as pleasant as reading a book--This is a function not so much of the Kindle but of the cover I got for it. Initially, I went for the official Amazon.com cover--black leather, emblazoned with the Amazon logo--but I didn't really take to it. It had a funny smell and the back of it would flop away from the back of the Kindle. So I swallowed hard and bought another cover: the Mocha M-edge GO! Jacket for Kindle 2. For the same price, it's ten times better. The cover is more rigid, the back of it clips securely to the Kindle, and the leather is top grade: it looks and smells gorgeous. (Trust me, I know what I'm talking about: my family used to be in the leather tanning business). The upshot is reading the Kindle is a more sensual experience than reading a mass market paperback. I love books, including the feel of them in my hand, and I was worried that the Kindle would be a diminished experience. Actually, now everything I read on the Kindle is a leatherbound book.
- Even the "Off" screen is fun--Rather than presenting you with a blank screen when it's off, the Kindle displays a picture of a literary great (e.g., John Steinbeck, Oscar Wilde) or a famous etching (e.g., Durer's St. Jerome in his Study). Each time you turn it off, a different picture comes up. This packaged serendipity makes the Kindle just as much fun turned off as it is turned on.
- The Amazon connection lets you drill into a subject--With the Kindle, you get the Amazon recommendation system on steroids. I've found--and bought--a lot of great physical books on Amazon.com due to its recommendation system. The Kindle means you don't need to wait for UPS to turn up with your book--it's instant gratification. I somehow found Stephen King's book On Writing and bought it for the Kindle--and then wandered over to Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life and bought it as well. So if you get engrossed in a subject, the Kindle makes it easy to find and get relevant books. The only downside is the money you spend.
However, I don't want to give the impression that the Kindle 2 is all milk and honey. It could use some improvements as well. I'll blog about them in a later post.