No. of Recommendations: 11
Okay, I'm a gadget geek and a spendthrift. I get that. But I also love to read, and have been waiting for an e-reader to come along and make me happy, broke and reading. I was very proud of myself for not buying the original Amazon Kindle when it first came out. When the Kindle 2 was announced, I crumbled like Homer at Lard Lad's. Pre-ordered it, and even "pre-loaded" some book samples so I would have something to look at upon its arrival.

So, got it Wednesday evening, and have been reading/playing/goofing with it. Enough to give some initial impressions about the Kindleness of it all.

First, the stuff I don't like:
1. Holy cow. This thing was entirely too expensive. I mean waaaaaay expensive. Even if you save money on buying individual books (a tenuous prospect for me (see below)), you've got to buy a helluva lot of them to recoup the diff. I'm consumed with guilt for buying it.
2. While it feels pretty solid and well-made, I have a tendency to treat it gingerly. This is directly related to item #1, above. I'm not particularly gentle with my physical books. This is a negative because I hate babying things. I wish it was more rugged - even at the expense of size and weight. Perhaps a rubber outer-shell? I think this would make it a part of my chaotic life, as opposed to a luxury item.
3. I think the e-books are expensive. Not compared to hardbacks, but paperbacks. For example, Jim Butcher's Fool Moon is $6.39. The paperback is $7.99. Admittedly older books are cheaper (Henry James' Wings of the Dove can be had for $.96), but anything remotely current is not gonna save you much over buying the physical copy. Where's the love after shelling out a ton 'o clams for the reader?
4. No memory card slot. This is a minor point, as with its current storage level of 1.4G the Kindle can hold about 1,500 books. A lot more than I'll ever keep on it. But would it have hurt them to stick the slot on there anyway? I can get an 8G SD card for twenty bucks. I'd rather save my books on something portable like that than on Amazon's archive. Also, audiobooks (from Audible) take up a lot more room than printed books, so be warned if you keep a lot of audio files on the Kindle (Audible archives your purchases also).
5. You can't really trick-out a lot of the default features. Again, an almost trivial point, but for that much money one should be able to customize some of the options. I like customizing stuff.
6. While it does hold your place on a book if you go to another book or whatever, be careful when re-checking another part of the same book. It won't hold the place you stopped reading unless you placed a bookmark. I went back to check the cover or something, and lost my place. Not easy to find.
7. I wish the screen was just a tad larger.
8. Two bucks a month for blogs? Forget that.

Stuff I neither like nor dislike:
1. The page "blacks-out" when turning pages. At first I thought this would be very distracting, but it turns out that for me it is not any more so than flipping a page. YM, of course, MV.
2. Browsing for books on Amazon over the Whispernet feature. Amazon clearly wants you to be able to make impulse purchases of books by just pushing a button. Even though I am a huge spendthrift, I am utterly immune to this feature. Especially given the cost of the books. I prefer to browse the books on the website, then tell the website to download it to the Kindle. Also, browsing the books is kind of lame. You pretty much have to know what you want before you go looking.
3. Text to Speech. Yes it works. Better than I had thought it would. But it won't be replacing Jim Dale any time soon.
4. 99.9999999999999963% of the time, the keyboard is utterly superfluous.
5. Some have complained that it has no backlight for darkness reading. I don't care for backlit stuff generally. It is hard on my eyes. I read in the light.
6. Others have complained about not having a physical copy of their books. I almost always donate the books I've read to the library. I seldom re-read books. If I have a hankerin' to do so, I'll just get my old copy at the library!

Stuff I like:
1. The screen is very easy to read. I initially thought that the letters wouldn't be contrasty enough, but that hasn't been a problem at all. Once you get going, it is every bit as immersive as a "real" book.
2. My wife really likes being able to change the font size.
3. The ability to put audiobooks on it. I do a lot of driving and listening to audio books. The Kindle is sort of a one-stop shopping device for literature. It bookmarks and handles the audiobooks surprisingly well.
4. Being able to have several books in one small, convenient package. I often have a fiction and two non-fiction books going at once, and the Kindle is wonderful at handling that sort of thing.
5. If it is available, you can download a free book from Project Gutenberg (gutenberg.org), put it in a Word document, and Amazon will download it to your Kindle. Amazon charges $.10 for sending it wirelessly, or you can put it on your Kindle from your computer for free. There are a hell of a lot of good books at Gutenberg. This also works for some .pdfs and Word documents that you want to look at later. Nice feature.

So, what's the bottom line? I like it. I flew through Michael Connelly's The Brass Verdict in a few hours. The Kindle does what it is supposed to do very well. I wish it had been a lot less expensive, and that the books themselves were cheaper. But it is what it is. I can't really "recommend" it because it is too frackin' expensive. But if you're like me and you spend money like Congress, then go for it.


gmj
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