A little more than a year ago, I said no to Kindle. At that time, I have a stack of books next to my bed. I wasn’t going to switch before finishing them. Many things changed in this industry this past year.
iPad disrupted the whole publishing industry and eReader business. It forced Amazon to raise eBook prices! It also forced Barnes and Noble, Border, Sony, and many more beefed up their offerings. Amazon reduced Kindle’s price and introduce the 3rd generation. On my many business trips, my age (sigh) exacerbated two problems with books.
On a airplane seat, I read with some difficulty. The dim or poorly aimed lights do not help my aging eyesight. I would sit uncomfortably to read. Secondly, the desire to travel lighter forced me to make hard choices to accommodate either the luggage space or the weight imposed on my shoulders.
This new Kindle is slightly bigger than a paperback and about half-an-inch thick. It weighs enough to feel the substance, but not too much to tax the holding hand. Unlike book, I don’t need to prop the pages open (I like reading with only one hand, twisting and extending my fingers to hold the open book.) Flipping the page is deftly done with one of my knuckles clicking a big button the side. (I practiced and experiment the best way to hold it.) The dictionary is built-in, so I don’t need to put the book down, fetch the dictionary, and come back to it. (I do that a lot.) The bookmark, highlight, and annotation are easy to use. I don’t need my usual pencil anymore and the notes are now legible.
Since now all books are the same font size, I picked one that is easy to my eyes. The reading surface is flat and smaller to find the light. The contrast is usually no worse, if better, than print. (I tried reading from my iPod Touch, it is really too small a surface. I have not read extensively on an iPad yet.)
Kindle is great as a single purpose device. It does not email, browse, play games, or even display in color. Whatever you fancy, there is no app for that. It does one thing: displaying text for books or other things sold from Amazon.com.
And it is $139. I am willing to experiment with that amount of money.