Monday, December 14, 2009

Turning in My Kindle

As I discussed in previous posts, I was privileged to be given a Kindle e-book reader by Pace University as part of a beta test of this device for use by graduate students. At the end of the semester, I was given the opportunity to buy my Kindle for less than half price. I've chosen not to buy it. In this post I want to examine my reasons why.

I was disappointed with the Kindle. Certainly, the device held three rather bulky text books in a small space, no bigger than a notebook, and that was a good thing. I was able to adjust the type size, a boon for a boomer who doesn't like to wear her glasses to read. (I'm talking about me!) And I could search for different topics in each book, something that came in handy in an educational setting. In addition, I liked that all versions of the book could be synchronized, whether I was reading the book on my Kindle, PC or iPhone.  However, the Kindle left much to be desired. I may buy an e-book reader in the future, but I think I'll hold out for one made by Apple. Most of my problems with the Kindle had to do with navigation (the book equivalent of flipping pages), and I think that's one area that Apple gets right.

The litany of things I didn't like about the Kindle is long. First, I didn't like that it doesn't have page numbers, only locations, and that there is no quick and easy way to see where you are within a chapter. Second, I was really unhappy with the little joy stick navigation device.  If you are in a book's table of contents and want to go to Chapter 3, you have to use this joy stick to point to the chapter you want to go to and then click it. The button is hard to use and maneuver. In the same vein, I didn't like the little keyboard and wound up using it as little as possible. Third, I didn't like the Sprint network Kindle used to download the books. I have no Sprint coverage in my house. I had to take my Kindle for a ride out in the car for it to download the books I ordered. Forth, well you get the idea...I don't think I need to beat up on Kindle. For some people, this device might be just what they needed, and I hope they enjoy it.

I'm just looking for something else. If I buy a e-book reader, I want it to mimic the way I use books and add some features I didn't know I needed but like. I want to flip through the pages with a flick of my finger. I want to be able to tell that I'm half way through a chapter easily. I want to be able to bring the e-book reader to the beach without worrying about it getting full of sand, gumming  up the electronics. I want to underline passages if I want, with little effort, and make notes easily, maybe even in hand writing.

I worry about the price point of my ideal device. After all Amazon was willing to let me have my beta tested Kindle for only $200. I won't spend $1000 on an e-book reader and that is the rumored price of Apple's new offering. It may be a while till I have access to a reader again, but I'll be keeping up with developments in this area. I think boomers are a great market for e-book readers, so when the companies finally get them right, we'll all benefit.

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