A few weeks ago I was just arriving in Georgia to visit family and when I got there, my aunt made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. A Kindle 3 in exchange for yard work. I didn’t have to think about it hard, or for too long. Her back yard is pretty big, and it wound up being a good bit of work, but I think it was a more than fair deal. I’ve loved reading ever since my dad put my first Hardy Boys book in my hands as a kid. My taste in books has changed a lot since then, but I’ve wanted a Kindle since I first heard about them. Now I finally have one and I’ve been using it for a month, so I decided I’d share my thoughts about it and how it stacks up to the traditional reading experience.
The Kindle 3 itself is a very elegant looking device. I like the dark graphite coloring of the sturdy plastic shell. It in no way feels cheaply built. The buttons to turn the ‘pages’ are located on either side to accommodate right and left handed readers, as well as various ways of holding the device. The keyboard buttons under the screen are slightly raised and feel good when you push them. I know that sounds weird, but they’re sturdy and the texture is very comfortable. I went ahead and got one of the leather cases that Amazon made and sells specifically for the Kindle 3. It’s a perfect match and connects to the Kindle 3 using little slots built into the left side of the device. There are no bands and no adhesive to cause damage to your device. Together, the Kindle 3 and the leather case have a very professional, classy look that I very much enjoy. The leather case also has a band to hold it closed with a tab on one end so you always know which way is up when you’re opening it. Nothing about the way the device is designed disappoints me. It’s stylish and functional.
The reading experience itself is exceptional. I thought that reading on the Kindle would be a second best experience, and wouldn’t stack up to reading a real book. I’ll always remember curling up on a couch or bed with a paper book in my hands fondly, but this is a better way to do it. The Kindle 3 is a lot lighter than most any book I’ve ever held, meaning I can hold it longer without having to rest it on my legs or a table. The shape and size is easier to manage, and it’s nice to not have to hold back pages, like you do on a new book with a fresh spine. If something happens and you have to set the Kindle down suddenly, you won’t lose your page like you would with a real book. You also won’t have to worry about any bookmarks slipping out. When you’re done reading, you just slide the power switch to the right and one of a set of inspiring screensavers pops up, showing classic authors and scenes related to reading or book printing. The e-ink screen is everything it’s made out to be. When I first saw the device I thought I was looking at a paper card stuck in the screen as an example of how it would look, but it actually was the screen itself. I’ve read for hours straight on the Kindle 3 without any sign of eye fatigue.
The one thing about the Kindle that’s a bit disappointing is the availability and pricing of titles. When the Kindle first came out, book titles were locked down to about 9.99, which is reasonable if not as low as they could be. E-books don’t require paper, printing, physical distribution or any of the costs associated with those things, so they should really cost a fraction of what a physical book does. Lately, though, it’s not uncommon to find e-books priced the same as the physical version, and in a few cases even higher. The reasoning behind it is that we’re paying extra for the convenience of having a digital version instead of a heavy paper version. I say we should get a discount for the convenience of not costing the publishing company all of those extra fees that come along with printing paper books. We should also get a discount for not being able to lend (in some cases), give away or sell the book that we bought. With e-books, they say we’re just buying a license to read the book, and not actually buying the book itself. That’s just crap. The digital book I buy, the file, should be mine to do whatever I legally want to do with it, the same way a paper book is mine to do whatever I want to with.
Overall, though, the Kindle is an incredibly worthwhile purchase for anyone thinking about getting one. I’m glad I have mine!
*Note: This post is not sponsored in any way by Amazon.com, and I was not paid by anyone to write it. These are legitimately my opinions on the device. The links in the post will, however, take you to Amazon product pages.