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Should I Buy a Kindle? Expand / Collapse
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Posted Tuesday, April 29, 2008 9:58 PM


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Comments posted to this topic are about the item Should I Buy a Kindle?






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Post #492603
Posted Tuesday, April 29, 2008 10:15 PM
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The Kindle ROI is only going to come from convenience and portability. It's not going to come from book savings.

Computer books tend to be either obsoleted or replaced by newer editions - typically with software you get an upgrade plan and always have the latest version - will you get this with the Kindle? They are also typically loaned around the office or to colleagues, you can't do that with a Kindle.

Non-computer books are cheaper to get either new or second-hand on Amazon or ebay/half.com and then simply re-sell.

You will typically recoup the difference in price with Kindle version on your resale if you decide to buy new.

The Kindle has some interesting other features like RSS subscriptions and newspaper subscriptions, etc, and while the Kindle is nice, I have no way to use my Books24x7 or Safari bookshelves (free services with my ACM membership) on it, and many of the best SQL Server or platform-agnostic SQL books are not available for the Kindle.

The Kindle is a great device, but it is not economically viable alternative to books - it's an alternative to a heavy satchel, and the value of that varies by the beast of burden. I have not yet found it worth giving it a try just for that.
Post #492613
Posted Tuesday, April 29, 2008 10:55 PM


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The Kindle has never struck me as a well designed or even a remotely good-looking machine, so I would never buy one myself.

That said, I've been reading eBooks for years on my PDAs. First it was the Palm devices, then later the HP iPaq's. eReader.com has tens of thousands of books available for reading, however, not too many are technical in nature. Technical books are often best suited to the paper medium as they can be shared and easily referenced. Sharing is technically possible with eBooks, but I wouldn't trust people around the office to use my credit card number ;)

After 5+ years of reading eBooks, I've found that they work great for fiction and scientific materials, but are terribly lacking for quick reference materials. Rather than spend the money on a Kindle, perhaps investing in a full-fledged PDA would be more to your liking. Also, if you have a cell phone that runs either PalmOS, Windows Mobile or SymbianOS, you can get eReader software that will let you read on the smaller screens.
Post #492626
Posted Tuesday, April 29, 2008 11:47 PM
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I've read electronic books for years, I own > 1500. I used to read on my various PDA's - portability was one of the reasons.

For me economics was most certainly part of the reason. Paperbacks here in Australia start at about US$17 and up, hardcovers are about $30-45 and up. Technical books are worse. The difference was even higher until the US$ tanked recently. To me, the ROI was met in a very few books. Also, I can buy a book from the the US and start reading it inside a minute - ordering from here can take months, and the freight kills any price advantage (no free shipping overseas).

I recently bought a Cybook - same screen as the Kindle, looks prettier, but no keyboard or wireless access. The wireless wouldn't work here anyway. Also reads more formats including pdf (though not the Kindle DRM format). It's bigger than a PDA, and I thought I wouldn't use it as much. However, the difference in screen quality is so dramatic I ended up carrying it everywhere, and my PDA gets recharged much less often now. It fits OK in a large pants pocket, or jacket pocket. The battery lasts for a long time (the screen takes no power except when refreshing).

One of the main reasons I got the Cybook was a PDA really sucks in strong light/sunlight. The Cybook, on the other hand, only improves as the lighting goes up. Not so good for reading in bed, so I have a clip-on light (you can't backlight e-ink - it's opaque). The much improved battery life and larger screen is a bonus.

Now that I've had it for a while though, I'm not going back. I think it is actually an improved reading experience over reading a paper book, which I've never been able to say about a PDA. There are still some books where paper is best (lots of illustrations or photos mainly) but for your average text only book, it rocks.

If you do get a Kindle, note it will read Mobipocket format books as long as they don't have DRM. If they do, it must be the Kindle-specific DRM. You can download Mobipocket Creator, and turn a number of other (no-DRM) formats into Mobipocket books. You can then load these straight to your Kindle via USB, or pay Amazon to send them by wireless.
Post #492654
Posted Tuesday, April 29, 2008 11:56 PM


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I wish all books came on a DVD... easy to search, easy to carry. Of course, a couple/three 1,400 page books make a pretty good anti-terrorist weapon on a plane... almost as effective as a Wrist Rocket and pork chops :D

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Post #492658
Posted Wednesday, April 30, 2008 1:01 AM


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As of now E-books aren't that interesting to me.

I read enough off a screen, so as long as a book is more easy on the eyes, I won't be going down the E-book road :)

Interesting thought though, having all sorts of books everywhere.
Post #492683
Posted Wednesday, April 30, 2008 1:59 AM


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I'd echo what ISM's said; reading from books is, for me, far easier on the eyes than reading from screen (and that's despite my having several laptops at my disposal, each with decent size/resolution screens and often configured to output to multiple displays).

I'd also be interested to know how much energy is consumed per consumer for an e-book to be produced, distributed, stored and displayed for reading, for the useful lifetime of that particular book. And that compared with the similar calculation for a paper copy. Given I don't buy books I'll only read once, I can't help but feel the traditional paper-based book may be, for the way I use it, rather greener. Of course, the point has already been made that technical books tend to be obsolete quite quickly, making the useful lifetime relatively short. However, I must admit that the technical books I tend to get are relatively "generic" ones (e.g. SQL language reference rather than T-SQL language reference as implemented in MS SQL Server v XXXX), meaning they're as useful as possible over the longest period possible.

Perhaps more relevant, though, is that if I have enough spare time available to sit down with a book (one of my luxuries in life, I'll admit), the last thing I'm likely to reach for is something work-related. Give me a good work of fiction from a skillful author any day.


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Post #492704
Posted Wednesday, April 30, 2008 2:34 AM
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Ism & majorbloodnock,

If you haven't tried an e-ink screen, there is no way you can compare it properly. It is nothing at all like reading off any other type of screen. Looking at photo's of it online just mean you're now looking it on a screen, which doesn't help at all. They don't call it electronic paper for nothing. I find it as easy on the eyes as paper, sometimes better (depending on the paper/ink etc).

The amount of energy for an e-book to be:
Created and stored - basically none that's not already used. A book will already be in an ebook format of some kind before the publishers get it, and certainly before the printers do.

Distributed: lots less than paper book, for sure. What's the energy cost of a 200k download? Compared to shipping me a paper book halfway round the world?

Displayed: that's the interesting one. If I read it on my PDA or phone, I already have one of those. Display cost in power for my Cybook, about 20-30 minutes charge on a USB cable for a big book. (3 hours will completely recharge it, and it lasts for quite a few books). Energy to make the Cybook itself? I don't know. But spread over the hundreds of books I've already read on it, I suspect it's paying itself back.

Oh, and good fiction is one of the easiest things to get as an ebook. It's the work related ones that are hard.
Post #492721
Posted Wednesday, April 30, 2008 3:15 AM


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I know what you mean, SLHope, but it's not the appearance of the screen that's the issue for me. There's been quite a bit of research into all the extra peripheral reading one does as well as taking in the sentence you're concentrating on, and my mind has had mumble-mumblety years of training to do what it does based on the format of a book. Flicking backwards and forwards on a normal PC screen is plain awkward. Since a Kindle is designed so that 1 screen = 1 book page, it's easier, and the controls are certainly well thought out, but for a veteran bookworm it still requires a bit of retraining your body. No doubt if I'd started reading on a Kindle, I'd have similar complaints about paper-based novels.

As far as energy expenditure is concerned, you're probably right. However, I've hundreds of novels, mostly secondhand, that are decades old and that I've read dozens of times. Producing and distributing one of those books was almost certainly costlier in energy than an e-book, but has consumed literally none since then. My kids' books give an even more stark contrast, since they get exponentially more outings. How many Kindle recharges would it take for "The Badger's Bath" to be read at bedtime once a week for four years on the trot? Rhetorical question (because I don't know the answer), and I'm not saying you're wrong, but there's no getting away from the fact that a paper book is a one-off expenditure whilst the Kindle is an ongoing one, and there's got to be a cross-over point somewhere.


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Post #492742
Posted Wednesday, April 30, 2008 3:18 AM


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slhope (4/30/2008)
Ism & majorbloodnock,

If you haven't tried an e-ink screen, there is no way you can compare it properly. It is nothing at all like reading off any other type of screen. Looking at photo's of it online just mean you're now looking it on a screen, which doesn't help at all. They don't call it electronic paper for nothing. I find it as easy on the eyes as paper, sometimes better (depending on the paper/ink etc).


Okay - I didn't know that. I guess I was prejudicial based on outdated knowledge.

Now I want to try an e-ink screen! :)
Post #492746
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