6 Reasons Why the Kindle Rocks My World

For those of you who still wonder about the Kindle as the possibility of Kindle 2.0 rolls out today, a brief summary of what distinguishes the Kindle 1.0 (and will distinguish 2.0) from all those other e-ink readers.

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  1. Network connectivity.

    As a commuter, this is what wins for me. This is what does it. I have a two hour commute each way, which I spend on public transportation, so I have free time. Lots of free time. That network access means I can float loose of a computer—but why would I do that?

    a. Because connecting to a computer is far slower than having items sent over the wireless directly to my Kindle.

    b. Because, while it’s slow to do so, I can still check my mail and Twitter—and still not have to pay for a data plan. Amazon bears that cost.

    c. Because online stores can send items to my Kindle directly as well through email as attachments to my Kindle’s email address. ((Yes, I know, some stores are like “But we don’t know how to email attachments, so we can’t support that lousy Kindle,” which is kind of like saying “We don’t know how to send email to our customers as receipts,” i.e., it’s a lazy and stupid attitude to take.))

    d. Because I can directly download .mobi, .prc, and .txt files from the web to my Kindle for reading, like from the very wonderful Feedbooks. ((Yes, I can read stuff other than that from the Amazon store on my Kindle. Directly. Stop spreading that out of date and rather lame piece of FUD.))

    e. Because dragging a laptop out on a bus isn’t the kind of thing I want to do. Why do you think iPods with itty bitty screens that can display videos are so interesting to commuters?

    Of course, there’s the biggest online store of all….

  2. Amazon at my fingertips.

    Why Amazon in particular? Because Amazon is already set up as a bookseller. ((Yes, yes, I know. Some of you think Amazon is evil. Then stop using Google. And stop using Windows. And definitely stop using your iPod, your Mac, and your iPhone. Some of you have done all these; if so, I commend you for not throwing stones while living in shiny pretty glass houses. Plus Amazon manages to keep alive all those books that so many independent booksellers, of which there are many bad ones outweighing the good ones, can’t.)) And that’s a wonderful advantage to have, because Amazon has far more reviews than other online sellers, and those you can read on your Kindle as you browse the Kindle store. ((Pshaw, Amazon reviews! you think. There are actually good reviewers, and though many are mediocre, it’s better than going into things blind.))

    You even get recommendations on the Kindle, organized access to an honest-to-god huge catalog of stuff ((About the only comparable online store in terms of variety and size is the Mobipocket store, for the obvious reason that Amazon owns it.)), and even Kindle news.

    And yes, there’s the news, another underestimated advantage….

  3. Instant access to newspapers and periodicals.

    Yes, it’s in a semi-primitive state, but not one where you can’t read articles and easily browse through titles and even excerpts (in the case of newspapers) before you settle down to read. But if you want the New York Times, and you live in Seattle, you don’t have to pay an arm and a leg to get it—and the NYT doesn’t have to pay an arm and three-quarters of a leg to send it to you.

    Plus I’m a commuter. It really sucks for the newspapers to all sell out when you start your 2-hour commute, you know? And it of course that happens when there’s interesting or important news. But with a Kindle’s ability to buy today’s Seattle Times, I actually do get a chance to read about the Seahawks’ game the previous day. Or, indeed, other news with national or world impact. ((Um… okay, I would have liked to read about Seahawks last year, when they were actually good, but the principle is still the same.))

    You can even get more niche magazines like Asimov’s sent over the wire. And if you subscribe to Asimov’s, or any other periodical, it can be sent to your Kindle automatically every month.

  4. That keyboard.

    Without a keyboard, browsing the web and Twitter or writing email would be, ah, kind of difficult. Not to mention searching the store. Not to mention searching the Kindle’s indexing of all the text on your Kindle. This is why the Sony Reader getting a network doodad you can attach to it doesn’t set my world on fire. ((Plus, it’s a network doodad. As if you need another small thing to lose.))

    Not to mention the ability to take notes, in addition to highlighting and bookmarking, in your books. ((Beat that with a wooden spoon, paper books.))

  5. Excerpts sent to your Kindle.

    Fah! you think. You can just read those on your computer.

    Except that then you forget that you should probably read those books. And the excerpts tend to be long, especially for longer books; I have read 2-chapter excerpts. And these excerpts are even available on books that don’t have “Look inside/Search this book” enabled on the website. ((Which is really a publisher decision, not an Amazon decision. Getting sued by publishers for displaying even a little text where they don’t want you to is likely viewed by most companies as a bad thing. Google can do what it likes.))

    Every time I visit an online ebook store that has excerpts only online, I shake my head. I’m looking at you, Webscriptions.

  6. Future development.

    I believe, out of all the ebook readers out there, that the Kindle will have the most interesting developments first (and even developments that are exclusive to it, like… all of the above). Because it has Amazon behind it, a company who has an extremely vested interest and a history of expanding into niches even stranger than ebooks ((Like that whole Amazon Web Services thing. These days I know of few large sites who haven’t moved at least some of their stuff there.)) and fulfillment roles even more taxing than just sending things over a wireless network. ((Amazon, indeed, must co-opt entire planes to deliver all the stuff they must every day. Not to mention that Prime and Free Shipping are not costs that even most large companies can sustain without some kind of advanced, national set-up.))

    In some things, the Kindle still needs to catch up to its competitors (I’m thinking price mostly, and maybe looks and speed, both of which the Kindle 2.0 will fix). But in the things that really matter to me on a day to day basis, there’s just no competition.

In case you’re curious, yes, I do increase my footnote usage when I feel passionately about something.

And if you’ll excuse me, I need to return to bed with my illness and my Kindle and today’s New York Times. ((Now Kristol-clear!))

One thought on “6 Reasons Why the Kindle Rocks My World

  1. I own the old Kindle and my hubby just bought the new one. I’m an old lady with bad eyesight and it’s perfect for me. I can blow the print up big without having to pay big bucks for LARGE PRINT BOOKS. Plus, my arthritic fingers enjoy not having to lug heavy books around, with automatically come with those large print books. No matter how many books I load into it, it never gets any heavier, which I think is very nice. Typing notes in keeps my hubby happy because he doesn’t like the handwritten type that I put in my real books. He also doesn’t like it when I fold down the corners of all the good pages in real books — but I electronically mark all the pages I like in the Kindle and he doesn’t mind at all. The Kindle also can be provided with a cover — cheap or expensive depending on your taste — to protect it from sharp objects and to make it look more book-like so your friends won’t think you’re so weird. Mine already know I’m odd, so I don’t care. My only gripe is that not enough academic publishers put the stuff I want to buy on it. But I’ve put my own books on it without benefit of those persnickety agents who always want me to leave out a lot of words I think I need. And since I buy over $100 worth of books every year, the Kindle I bought over a year ago has already paid for its little self, since the average title only costs $9 or so instead of $25 to $30 — not to mention $150 to $300 for the type I prefer to buy. That’s why my husband is getting one for a little less than what I paid originally. His is going to read aloud to him, too. I’m dreadfully jealous. Hm, maybe I should give mine to my doggies and buy a third….

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