Kindle 3: Initial Reaction, the Good and the Bad

After much research and deliberation, I decided to take the plunge and order a Kindle 3. FedEx delivered my new gadget one week ago and, though I’ve only had a short period of time to use it, I must say that my initial reaction is a positive one.

The Kindle was a tough sell for me. I love books. I love the way they feel. I love flipping through the pages. I love the way they look on a shelf. That said, the popular ebook reader had plenty going for it as well. As I read reviews, comparisons, and specs and considered the reasons why I might consider purchasing such an item, there were a few key observations that stuck out and tipped to scales in Kindle’s favor:

The Good

  • I fidget a lot when I read. I’ll sit in one position while I’m reading the left-hand page and then another while I read the page on the right. I’m not sure why I do this, but it seems as though I spend a fair amount of time shifting around in my seat while I read. Is this normal? Perhaps not - at least, that’s what my wife tells me. Nevertheless, the Kindle solves the problem. Simply press a button and the page turns. I don’t even have to shift my eyes, let alone my entire body. Makes for a much more relaxing and stationary reading experience.
  • I’m in a graduate seminary program that requires me to read of a long list of books over the next ten months. The majority of these books are available on Kindle. Over the course of the year, the collective amount of money I will save by purchasing ebooks instead of printed books will nearly cover the cost of the Kindle.
  • The text-to-speech technology is surprisingly good. This allows me to continue reading” even while I drive. Car time has never been so productive. Priceless.
  • There is still room for much improvement, but I dig the highlighting and note-taking features. All of my highlights and notes are saved to a text file which can be exported to my computer. This is incredibly useful as I write papers for my classes. No need to flip through a book looking for a specific passage of highlighted text. Just search the text file. No need to type the quote into my paper, just cut-and-paste.
  • You can’t perform a keyword search with a hardback. At least, not quickly. But you can with a Kindle. Also very helpful when writing papers.
  • Kindle provides a convenient way to read lengthy PDF documents. No more reading on my computer screen or printing them off.

The Kindle isn’t all cupcakes and unicorns, however. I have discovered a few negatives along the way:

The Bad

  • Anything with an on-off switch must be powered off” during take-off and landing in an airplane. This is unfortunate if you fly often.
  • I would like my Kindle to be able to connect to an ad-hoc wireless network. Unfortunately, it doesn’t do that.
  • For some reason, the position of the letters M and N on the QWERTY keyboard throw me off. I consistently type an M where I intemded to type an N. Drives me muts. Mot sure what is goimg on here. I keep telling myself that I will adjust. Hasn’t happemed yet though. Anyome else dealing with this or am I just umique?”
  • I saved the worst for last: No page numbers. Seriously. No page numbers. Kindle uses a location number instead. Some don’t see this as a problem, but it really bothers me. You should know that I’m shaking my head in disapproval right now. Yes, I understand that changing the font size messes with page numbers and location numbers remain constant when adjusting font size. But seriously, what am I supposed to do with a location number? Why not include both? There are other ways of dealing with this issue, no? Location numbers would be fine, if everyone in my class owned a Kindle. Guess what? They don’t. So now, if I am discussing a book with my classmates, I have no way of quickly directing them to a page, paragraph or passage of interest. Location 145807-24 doesn’t mean anything to them. And this is a two-way problem. Everyone in my discussion group could be talking about the point the author made on page 319 while I scramble to find the location number equivalent. This also complicates the quoting and citing of sources in papers. As it turns out, it is very likely most of my professors don’t own a Kindle. Still shaking my head in disapproval.

All things considered, I really like the new Kindle. It brings a number of useful features and advantages to the table and I am thankful to have it. That said, the page numbers issue is a looming cloud, especially as I consider my academic pursuits and research over the next year. I’ve heard a number of reports about professors who do not look favorably upon Kindle location number citations. We’ll see how it goes…

Do you have a Kindle? What convinced you to buy?

What do you think about the page numbers issue? Am I ill-informed?

Comment below.

September 16, 2010