Erin’s Blog


Kindle and Kindle 2 explained for the tech un-savvy

I have to talk about it: Kindle! I’d never even heard of Amazon’s little device until just recently when it’s become the talk of the town, but apparently they’ve been out for a few years already! And now, very recently, Amazon’s released the Kindle 2! (Sidebar: is it just me or is it so frustrating when people buy a product [iPod, iPhone, Kindle] and then a few months later they make a better, cheaper version??)

So, if you’re as un-tech savvy as I seem to be, read up!

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Kindle 2 was released February 23rd and is on sale at Amazon.com for $359, but you can buy the original Kindle for as low as $250…seems great, right? Well, what does the Kindle, but more specifically the Kindle 2, do? Amazon has the features listed

Slim: Just over 1/3 of an inch, as thin as most magazines

Lightweight: At 10.2 ounces, lighter than a typical paperback

Wireless: 3G wireless lets you download books right from your Kindle, anytime, anywhere; no monthly fees, service plans, or hunting for Wi-Fi hotspots

Books in Under 60 Seconds: Get books delivered in less than 60 seconds; no PC required

Improved Display: Reads like real paper; now boasts 16 shades of gray for clear text and even crisper images

Longer Battery Life: 25% longer battery life; read for days without recharging

More Storage: Take your library with you; holds over 1,500 books

Faster Page Turns: 20% faster page turns

Read-to-Me: With the new text-to-speech feature, Kindle can read every newspaper, magazine, blog, and book out loud to you, unless the book is disabled by the rights holder

Large Selection: Over 240,000 books plus U.S. and international newspapers, magazines, and blogs available

Low Book Prices: New York Times Best Sellers and New Releases $9.99, unless marked otherwise

Ooh, la la. It seems great, right, 1,500 books at your fingertips without lugging them all around? But what about home libraries? Are we supposed to use the Kindle as the one household book that everyone has to share? It seems to me that it’s a great new invention that doesn’t have too much practicality. I don’t see it working in the real world, at least not for people like me. I read casually, often starting a book and taking a long time to finish, reading a few pages here and there before bed. Don’t hate on my slow and steady reading style, I’m in school and am ridiculously social so I don’t often find myself cuddled up with a book! Last summer while interning at PBS I took the train to and from work everyday…that jump started reading for the year. I probably stared at a few pages of Love in the Time of Cholera during the last spring semester but wasn’t able to really kick it’s butt until I rode the train in (by the way, amazing book…well worth the long and sometimes tedious storyline!) Then I read both My Horizontal Life and Are You There, Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea by Chelsea Handler. Then it was My Grandfather’s Son by Clarence Thomas. That was my summer and the Kindle makes total sense for that! But now…now I’ve started reading The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand as well as Street Gang: The Complete History of Sesame Street by Michael Davis. I’m positive that I will be skimming through these books during the upcoming spring break and my summer vacation. What will I be wearing? Probably a bathing suit at points. Will I want to rest a super thin and hi-tech Kindle on my soaking wet, bathing-suited body? Absolutely not!

The Amazon Kindle Team writes:

We designed Kindle to provide an exceptional reading experience. Thanks to electronic paper, a revolutionary new display technology, reading Kindle’s screen is as sharp and natural as reading ink on paper-and nothing like the strain and glare of a computer screen. Kindle is also easy on the fingertips. It never becomes hot and is designed for ambidextrous use so both ‘lefties’ and ‘righties’ can read comfortably at any angle for long periods of time.

I guess I didn’t realize books got hot and were only made for right handed people…maybe we should go to Ned Flanders’ Leftorium and pick up a Kindle for all of our left-handed friends…

I bet they'll have the Kindle...

I bet they'll have the Kindle...

We wanted Kindle to be completely mobile and simple to use for everyone, so we made it wireless…using the same 3G network as advanced cell phones, we deliver your content using our own wireless delivery system, Amazon Whispernet. Unlike WiFi, you’ll never need to locate a hotspot. There are no confusing service plans, yearly contracts, or monthly wireless bills-we take care of the hassles so you can just read.

I have to give it to them, this is a great feature. I’ve had enough trouble with “extended networks” and 3G yadda yadda yadda with my cell phones so this certainly is an appealing offering!

Finished your book in the airport? Download the sequel while you board the plane…And because we know you can’t judge a book by its cover, Kindle lets you download and read the beginning of books for free. This way, you can try it out-if you like it, simply buy and download with 1-Click, right from your Kindle, and continue reading. Want to try a newspaper as well? All newspaper subscriptions start with a risk-free two-week trial.

Kindle’s paperback size and expandable memory let you travel light with your library. With the freedom to download what you want, when you want, we hope you’ll never again find yourself stuck without a great read.

They seem so excited about it, but I can’t imagine it becoming part of people’s everyday lives. My dad, for instance, travels so much and loves books so much that he’s constantly at the local library, picking up or returning 2-3 books a week. He loves reading, but he also loves books. He’s a 60-year-old man and I honestly can’t picture him with a revolutionary book-like computer rather than an actual book. Maybe if the Kindle had a cellophane-like cover over it to remind people of the public library, or if it had that musty library smell, then I can see my dad with one, but otherwise…it seems impossible.

Peter Burrows wrote the review Here Comes Kindle 2.0 for BusinessWeek this past August when 2.0 was first becoming a reality. “There are…intruiging opportunities that could make Kindle truly huge,” he wrote.

One is education. My niece…just went back to college, and was hit with a bill for $700 for big bulky textbooks. I haven’t spoken yet with my colleauges at McGraw-Hill Education, but the Kindle would certainly be an efficient means for her and other students to get their text-books, and for teachers to easily distribute real-time information such as newspaper articles and new research papers.

This, I partially agree with. Textbooks are expensive and bulky, but what college students are required to take their books to class? In my experience it’s simple lecture or small, paper-back books in class and students do reading on their own out of their big textbooks outside of class. No problem. As far as classes and teachers becoming tech-savvy with their textbooks, I have a little problem. Just a few years ago I had a math class where we were required to purchase a digital copy of the book and were not given the option to get a hardcopy. So, when working on problems and attempting to check answers, I had to scroll down about 450 pages to the Index! Talk about a pain in my butt! Hopefully with Kindle you’re able to simply type in a page number and flip right to it; THAT would be helpful, but there is just something so much better about flipping back and forth with a physical book…or is that just me?

So, the Kindle. It seems amazing, it’s fast, it does a ton, but honestly, I don’t believe it will ever, ever replace books.