Now You’ve No Excuse

If you’ve heard any news or browsed the Internet at all today, chances are you’ve already heard plenty about Amazon.com’s newly-announced Kindle eReaders, especially their new 7-inch tablet, the Kindle Fire. CNET’s Molly Wood succintly answers the question everyone is asking, if this will be the iPad killer: “Yes. It’s the price, stupid”!

But I don’t want to write about the Kindle Fire at the moment, because I’m not interested in an entertainment tablet like the Fire or the iPad—I spend more than enough time in front of a desktop PC or laptop every day, so I don’t need another LCD screen to look at.

What I do want to tell you about here is how, as someone who loves to read all kinds of books, I love my Kindle eReader… and I think, if you like to read, you might love it, too.

I’ve had my Kindle 3—well, now it’s called the Kindle Keyboard 3G—since Christmas, after my wife (and parents) had keenly heard me dropping hints about it for months. The gift didn’t disappoint.

I had long been interested in the idea of an eReader, especially since I am nearly always in the middle of several different books from various topics or genres, and I choose which one I will read based on my mood (or need, for example if a library book must be returned!). Carrying these around, especially when travelling, is a real pain… not to mention trying to hold hefty 400-page technical books over my head as I try to read lying on my back! (Warning: don’t try this when you’re in danger of falling asleep—it can hurt!)

Anyway, in the early years most eReaders fell short of something I would want to carry around and read from. This changed for me when the “eInk” displays came out, which are not brightly backlit like the LCD computer screens I use all day, but are much more like paper. These screens are quite easy on the eyes, like a book—or maybe even better than a book, since you can change the font style and size or tweak the paragraph spacing to completely optimize your view just how you want it.

As for books to read… at first I was a little worried, not wanting to spend a ton on new electronic books when I still have plenty unread paper books on the shelves. But I was pleased to find plenty of content available for free, from popular classics to lesser-known works… so much so that my “to read” list is expanding way too fast! (One freebie gem I’ve been reading this week is Andre Norton’s The Time Traders.)

Also, you may not know that many Kindle books can be borrowed and lent (with some restrictions, of course). I use a website called Lendle.me to both borrow eBooks from others and list the ones I can share. It doesn’t cost a dime, and Lendle will even pay you a bit for each time you lend a book out. (Caveat: You should know that with the very first book I borrowed from Lendle, The Future According To Me (Kindle Single), I liked it so much I went ahead and bought my own copy anyway so I could read it again and again!)

I’m hoping I haven’t overwhelmed you with info here; I’m trying to focus on the significant highlights without bothering about technical details and all that. (If you want those, you know where to find them.) But if you do decide to get yourself a Kindle, there are a few decisions to make. One is whether you want the ad-supported “Kindle with Special Offers”, or an ad-free one. The second is whether you can live with a common Wi-Fi connection for downloading new books, tweeting when you finish reading one, and saving your notes and quotes; or if you prefer the wide accessibility of the 3G cellular connection. (I have the latter, which I particularly like that I don’t have to enter the Wi-Fi settings for every coffee shop hotspot I might visit.)

For the new Kindles that Amazon just announced today, there’s aren’t a lot of details to be known yet (with the exception of a few hands-on reviews). But if I were buying today, I think I would lean towards the Kindle Touch, especially for the ease of the touch interface (and on-screen keyboard). I suspect that the smallest and cheapest of the bunch, just listed as the Kindle (not “mini” or something like that?) would probably be frustrating to use if you ever wanted to type notes in using just the four-way button. But the Kindle Touch looks to me like the perfect balance of portable size, ease of use, and unbeatable price. With these new prices, you no longer have any excuse not to go get yourself a classy eReader, right? If your spouse or significant other says no, maybe you just haven’t dropped enough hints about the upcoming holidays…

Addendum: Lifehacker/Gawker just published this “Pick Your Kindle Flowchart” decision-making tool that you might find interesting. It doesn’t answer nor explain a lot of the options, but it would be helpful if you’re the type who knows what you want.

  • ewall

    Found a good hands-on review of the super-cheap low-end Kindle 4 model on on of my RSS feeds. Interesting… but I still wouldn't recommend this one, I don't think.

  • Debbie Meservey

    My daughter wants a Kindle for Christmas, and the most important feature to her is the readability – the eInk or it's not being backlit. I am thinking the Kindle Fire won't be set up that same way, and would be harder on the eyes…. do you know if this is true?