I have heard colleagues who are proud owners of the gadget extolling its merits, but that did nothing to change my idea that books should be made of paper and leafed through.
Now that I have time to play with my new toy, I can see how much thoughts Amazon must have put into designing a device that offers the same convenience and experience of reading a paper book, which is of utmost importance in trying to lure die-hard BOOK lovers into making a switch. So a Kindle is not only very similar in size and weight to a paperback, it also requires no booting time. You just slide the power switch to "wake" it, using virtually the same amount of time and effort it takes to open a book. It is also extremely power efficient. One charge is enough for days and even weeks of reading.
But one still wouldn't be ready to part with a couple of hundred US dollars if at best reading from a Kindle is just as convenient as reading a book. It has to have more to offer, and I think the following is what gives it an edge:
- Easy access to the store - With WiFi or, better still, 3G connections, your favourite titles are just a few clicks away wherever you are.
- Free sampling - Instead of buying a book and then discovering to your dismay after a few pages of reading that it is not something that you would likely finish reading, you can download for free a couple of chapters before making the decision to order it (or making a trip to the public library!).
- Large storage - A book is, quite literally, one book, but a Kindle can store hundreds. That's a distinct advantage when you are planning your reading for a long trip.
- Enhanced reader features - These features of Kindle solve a number of problems I have with reading, especially when commuting, such as not having a dictionary with me, wishing to make notes or highlights but now wanting to do it on the pages, especially if it is a library book I am reading. Better still, when I later connect the Kindle with my computer, I can save the file of the notes and highlights and further work on it.
- More privacy - Nobody needs to know from the cover of your book what you are reading!
Of course, these advantages do not come cheap, and I have discovered that for some titles a Kindle version is even more expensive than a paperback version. Also, Kindle pages are black and white so they are only ideal for texts but not for books for which pictures, photos and colours are key features.
But I have enjoyed the reading experience so far and am quite certain that I will be a regular buyer of the e-books on offer.