January 4, 2012

The Heat of My Excitement Was Kindled

Buon giorno.

And now for something completely different.

If you're having half as much fun as I am, then I'm having twice as much fun as you!

Yeah, so I stole that joke, it's still funny, innit?

The title of this post is a play on words, because I am excited about my new Kindle Touch, Wi-Fi, 6" E Ink Display reading device. It arrived on Friday, 30 December 2011 anno domini. Which is really great, I wanted to usher in the New Year with a new gadget and new reading material.

By the way, nobody is paying me for this write-up, I'm getting nothing for it. Also, these are my experiences with this particular device. There are others out there and I am sure they are adequate for their tasks. I will not put any of them down because I have had no experience with the others.

"Big deal, Uncle Bob! I don't have any kind of e-book reader."

Amazon will set you up with free Kindle software for your PC. There are other readers for your PC (including an ePub Firefox add-on), as well as apps for smartphones and other gadgets. So, if you want to try the e-book experience before you buy an e-book reader, you're set. If you don't mind reading at a computer monitor, which is one of the reasons I got the Kindle.

Click for larger image. I held it oddly for the picture, but one-handed reading is easily done.

5-1/4 x 8-1/4 paperback, Kindle Touch, business card. Click for larger.
This bad boy is lighter than most common paperback books. The psychic paper "E Ink" display looks startlingly like real paper. It is not backlit, so you need to have external lighting. (Laura Ingalls Wilder read her Kindle by candlelight, and Hoss Cartwright used a kerosene lamp.) If you want something that is backlit, with color and the ability to watch videos and such, they have the Kindle Fire, Full Color 7" Multi-touch Display, Wi-Fi. I didn't want all that. May as well go all the way and get another full computer, capice?

New books cost slightly less than real books, but the prices come down. There are literally thousands of free e-books available. Most of these are classics, but there are occasional free e-book offers. Also, prices come down over time (like when you want to buy the latest DVD or CD, just wait a while and it will usually become drastically less expensive). Amazon itself has many of the free and low-cost e-books on their site. It feels kind of funny to select the "1-Click" purchase for a free book. Although I love books (especially Bibles), turning pages, the smell of a quality new book, the pleasure of just reading, I need the portability and convenience. Instant delivery and no shipping charges are another big plus. Instant delivery, so an e-book can be a great emergency gift idea for a Kindle user. And I understand that a library of about three thousand books can be stored on a Kindle. Groovy!

Speaking of library... I understand that some libraries are hooked up so that you can actually borrow e-books. For that matter, I read that you can hook up with other users at Amazon's site and borrow their books, but I don't know anything about that yet.

There are hundreds of e-book sites besides Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Google itself claims to have millions of the things!

You can also subscribe to magazines and periodicals, both paid and free, but I haven't explored those possibilities yet. More about why I'm not chasing that down yet in the next installment.

The Barnes and Noble "Nook" e-readers are similar (some have even said that they essentially copied the Amazon models, but others said that Nook has some features that they would like to see on Kindle, so who knows). Nook primarily uses the ePub format, which is the most common. Amazon does not accept the ePub format, but that may change. Converters are available to change ePub into a format that Kindle accepts, especially the free non-DRM books. Some converters can be made to strip away the DRM so you can use your purchased book on another device, but I am not going into that now. Besides, I haven't tried to do it yet.

In the pictures above, you can see my new Bible on the Kindle. It is the WEB version (World English Bible), a new, respected, accurate, readable translation. It is free all over the Web (including audio), but I paid $5 USD because this version had special formatting for the Kindle; I can type in a reference and bada bing! I'm there. My point is that some things that are found free can be obtained for a price because someone put extra work into formatting and so forth.

There are four drawbacks to my Kindle touch.

  • I mentioned needing a light source, and there are clip-on lamps available if you want to read in a dark room and not disturb someone else.
  • There is no free-standing charger. Although the battery life is supposed to be a phenomenal two months, you trickle-charge it through your computer's USB cable. External chargers are sold separately.
  • My model has advertising ("special offers"). Before it arrived, I was resigned to seeing and ignoring a crawling message across the bottom of the screen. Such is not the case. The advertising kicks in when you're on your home page or it is in sleep mode, so you are not bothered in the least when you're actually reading something.
  • Fourth, there is no case. That's an important one for me. So, I shelled out a few more grotzits after reading reviews and examining the products specifically for this model at Amazon's site. I'll let you know how it is.

A fifth drawback is that sometimes when you tap the screen for a menu option, nothing happens. But I suspect part of that is because the book in use is so large, I have to tappity-tap until it pays attention. Or it may be just a bit of finesse that I need to learn.

That's enough excitement for one day. Next time, I'll tell you about the e-book stuff that put my excitement into overdrive. Here it is. Ciao!

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