Thoughts before buying the new KindleNovember 1, 2010
As I’m pretty close to getting one of these (I’ll admit that the new pricing pushed me over the edge), I thought I’d make some notes about the experience of reading books, and review after a few months of getting a Kindle.
- My feelings about a book are intimately linked to how far through it I am. If something is feeling like a slog, and the bookmark indicates that I’m not very far through it, I’m quite likely to give up. I’f I’m further through it, I may stick with it. I wonder how the Kindle will indicate my progress, and if this affects my determination to finish a book. I have seen the UI (Don Norman showed me his DX at UX London 2009!), but not used it much, or seen the new UI in action.
- Page turning is related to progress. With a 6 inch screen (diagonally) – which I presume will display less content than a typical book page – I wonder about how this will affect my progress through a book. Will ‘flipping pages’ more often make me feel like I’m making more progress through it?
- The visibility of books is important. I’ve had plenty of conversations on trains where a shared interest in a book is the icebreaker. Occasionally, my wife has surreptitiously left books around the house that I would never normally read, but after a couple of pages I’m hooked. This kind of exposure to things not to my taste is enlightening!
I also worry about this for my daughter’s sake, music just as much as books. I explored my parents’ numerous bookshelves and vinyl extensively as a child: how will she discover things hidden away on memory somewhere? James Bridle touched on this problem at dconstruct from a historiographical perspective: when all your data is hidden in folders on a computer, how do you know if you’ve lost anything?
- Sharing. There’s a whole other discussion about copyright here, but I love giving books away. It occurs to me that perhaps the Kindle may act as a kind of filter for books – I’ll only buy the physical books that I feel are important to keep around or lend (I do this with DVDs).
- I quite like the fact that I may not be able to do much more than read with it. Some may agonise over whether to get a tablet device or an e-reader at this moment in time, but for me there’s no dilemma. When I’m reading a book, I absolutely do not need the distraction of the web (this is why I probably won’t buy the 3G version!).
- Visual content. I read a lot of things with diagrams and illustration, especially books related to my profession: how well will this work on the Kindle?
- Articles. Another thing that pushed me into buying: instapaper can now send articles from your browser to the Kindle (with a single click). So often at work I encounter things that I want to read but don’t have time for, and would rather not read at my desk: this is a potentially great solution.
- Control of content. It was only after I discovered Calibre that I decided to buy one (it’s like an open source iTunes for books). I have no interest in Amazon monopolizing what I can and cannot read, so the freedom to manage the books with Calibre is a big plus.