During the summer of 2008, I had the opportunity to test drive the new Kindle, Amazon's high-tech electronic book reader. Looking back at my post (while amazed that we've been writing about technology for so long!), I thought the system was slick, but at $359 (the price for the original Kindle), I decided it wasn't right for me. (Click here to read my original review).
Fast forward to last week when I decided to pull the trigger and buy the new Kindle. Here is what finally drove me to push the "purchase" button:
Portability – As I stated in my original post, the best reason to buy the Kindle (for me) is to avoid carting around a suitcase full of books. (At the end of the month, my family and I are taking a week-long cruise to the Caribbean, where I plan on reading A LOT).
Free Content – In 2008 there were a few free books (primarily classics like Pride & Prejudice). Today there is a ton of free content – in anticipation of our trip, I have downloaded over 20 free books.
Also, publishers seem to have figured out that if they offer the first book of a series for free, it is likely that readers will pay to download the rest of the books. I know it worked for me – I downloaded "Already Dead" by Charlie Huston for free, and am now planning on buying the rest of the series.
Reduced Prices – During my first test drive, I discovered that most Kindle-versions of popular books were priced almost identically to the print versions. These days, the costs have reduced significantly for some electronic versions. For example, the paperback version of Twilight (Book 1) costs $6.59 while the Kindle version is $4.25. The new Dan Brown novel "The Lost Symbol" is $12.00 for the hardcover edition and $9.60 for the Kindle version.
Kindle E-mail – The Kindle also comes with a custom Kindle e-mail address (eg MYNAME@kindle.com) which I can use to send pdfs and other documents directly to my Kindle. One of my clients told me that he converts all the big regulatory documents he receives via e-mail into pdfs and then sends the document to his Kindle, so he can read them when he wants AND avoid carrying around reams of paper. (I will say, I wasn't sure what to do with this feature and I think the idea is BRILLIANT). Here's info on how to do it.
Global WiFi – While all Kindles include free internet access through their Whispernet system, it used to be that you couldn't use Whispernet outside of the United States. The latest version includes the ability to connect and download books wirelessly in over 100 countries (there is a $1.99 fee each time you download an item through the wireless system when traveling abroad).
Price – With the new features, Amazon also dropped the price on the 6" Kindle to $249. It's still an amount that gave me pause, but was more palatable than the original $349 price tag.
Does that mean the Kindle is perfect? Of course not. I do have a few items I wouldn't mind seeing improved:
Sharing – My mom also has a Kindle, but we cannot share books. 'Nuff said.
Permanence - I'm re-reading (for the 100th time I'm sure) "Little Men" by Louisa May Alcott on the Kindle, and while I'm enjoying the story, I also keep thinking about the beat up, dog-eared copy of the book that I know is lurking in my bookcase. There is no question there is still "something" about a book that I will always miss.
No cover – At $249 I would expect the Kindle would come with even the most basic cover or velvet-like bag. Instead, I had o buy a cover which set me back an additional $29.99 for the basic black cover.
Where's Harry? I just found out recently that J.K. Rowling will not allow her popular Harry Potter books to be made available on the Kindle. Turns out this is an industry trend with many popular children's books, including those by R.L. Stine and Lemony Snicket, not being made available in e-versions.
Have you made the leap to the Kindle? What would you like to see improved?