Guest Post: To Kindle or Not to Kindle?

I've been wanting a Kindle for years. I already have a Sony Reader, but I still wanted one. It might be the gadget freak in me that wanted to add to my e-book reader collection, so I asked my friend Wallace from Coconut Library (soon to be Unputdownables) to tell me about her experience with her Kindle, and she was nice enough to prepare a guest post for me and answer some questions as well. Here is what she said:

(image courtesy of Wallace)

To Kindle or Not to Kindle?
by Wallace at Coconut Library (soon to be Unputdownables)

For those of you who wonder about them, have not heard of them, or would like to hear more about them from someone who has one (and still loves her regular books very much), this post’s for you!

I remember hearing about this contraption called the Kindle for the first time in the Fall of 2008 at my book club. I was astonished. A machine that people read books off of? Preposterous. Who would want that? What about the feeling of the book in your hands; feeling the side of the book in your right hand getting smaller and smaller as you get closer to the end? What about the smell of the book, and the satisfaction of turning the page? What about the worn look a book gets after you’ve read it (and especially after you’ve read it more than once), or taken it in the bath with you and had the steam curl the pages making the book look completely loved? What about having the stories you adore filling your shelves, as declarations of who you are and what you’ve read?

Well, I still feel all of the above, but I’ve recognized how extraordinarily convenient the Kindle really is for someone who reads a lot (or travels a lot... or both).  How does the Kindle pretty much sell itself? The fact that you can carry so many books with you in this light weight device (what I've heard is the lightest of all the e-readers) is incredible. The fact that you can download a book in 60 seconds be it while on the runway, in the airport, in a hotel, or in your own home is beyond convenient. And The fact that books cost less without the paper means you aren’t spending as much after the initial investment of buying the device. You can also get newspapers, magazines, and blogs whether by subscription or by  individual issue.

While I still prefer books (and sometimes after reading a book on my Kindle that is so great it needs to be part of my library I will also buy the physical copy of the book) I still find the Kindle very valuable. Especially if I'm not near a bookstore, or if I think there's a book that I won’t necessarily need to have in my collection, I use my Kindle and am thankful that I have it.
You must know that I am someone who cannot travel without at least two books, and if the trip will be of any substantial length (with long plane or train rides to boot), maybe even more than two. The Kindle is incredibly useful in that capacity, and every time I’m getting ready to take a trip I add some of the books from my wishlist to my device and am thankful that my bags are that much lighter.

P.S. I have the first generation Kindle, which I think you can still get used or on e-bay. Otherwise there is the new Kindle, which is very similar and probably even nicer.

Q & A With Wallace at Coconut Library

1. What made you choose this reader over the Sony Reader? (I think the Sony Reader was the only other big e-book reader on the market when the 1st gen Kindles were out.)
Honestly, I knew more about the Kindle. Be it advertising or word of mouth I had become more familiar with it, so I chose it. I also thought the fact that it linked to Amazon would make it incredibly easy to find the books that I would want to read.

2. Do you plan on upgrading to the new Kindle at any point? If you do upgrade, would you consider any of the new e-book readers on the market? 
I have no plans, as of now, to upgrade. Even my version (which is the first) is wonderful and I imagine if they do any upgrade that I would care about (i.e. the ability to share books between e-readers) they will offer the upgrade for purchase to people who own earlier generations.

The only other e-reader that I would consider is the Nook, but after holding one and seeing the weight of it (and the fact that it's a bit too fancy for me -- not what I'm looking for in an e-reader) I think I will stick to the Kindle. Kindle's are the closest of all of the major competitors (Kindle, Nook, iPad) to real books as far as I'm concerned.

3. How often do you use your Kindle or what percentage of the books you read are on the Kindle?
I still mostly read conventional books, but when I'm traveling, I almost exclusively use my Kindle. I'd say I use my Kindle 1/4 of the time. It doesn't sound like much, but that 1/4 of the time I use it I wouldn't be able to get a book any other way (i.e. not near a bookstore, on the runway, etc.).


Thank you Wallace for your post! After reading your guest post, my husband took the plunge and bought me a Kindle! I can't wait to play with it!

Wallace is currently hosting The Summer Reading Challenge: 2010 on her blog, Coconut Library (soon to be Unputdownables). Head on over to check it out!


Wallace said...

So glad you got a Kindle! I hope you're really liking it. It's invaluable for trips (or even to stick in your purse instead of lugging around heavier books)!

Chachic said...

Thanks for this post, Carin and Wallace! This is useful information for me because I'm looking into getting a Kindle. 1/4 doesn't sound like a lot but the Kindle would solve the availability problems that I have here in the Philippines. It's so frustrating when there's a book that you want to read and it's not available here. :(

Just a point of clarification, what about the cons of the Kindle? They say that Amazon can take back the books that you order? I'm not entirely sure about that. One other problem that I have is the $2 download fee for every book, even the free ones. It might not seem like a lot but it will accumulate. Can I get around that by ordering using the computer and just transfer the ebook to the Kindle?

Carin B. said...

@Chachic - I looked up the Kindle specifications for The Philippines and it looks like there is no additional fee to download through Whispernet (the wireless Kindle service) but there is a fee to transfer personal documents via Whispernet is $.99 per MB. Also, not all books available for selection in the U.S. are available outside the U.S., but it appears that Amazon is working to get rights to distribute titles on the Kindle in every country.

As far as Amazon removing books from your Kindle, they got a lot of bad publicity for removing 1984 by George Orwell from people's Kindles without notifying them. The reason they did this was because they did not own the copyright to the book and were unlawfully selling it thereby putting themselves in danger of being sued by Orwell's publisher/estate. They did refund the money that was paid for the book to all those that downloaded it. Will they do this in the future? I would say it's possible but unlikely because of the debacle it caused. However, we are all human and make mistakes so I wouldn't be surprised if it did happen again.

I am going to do some research I think and write up a post about E-Book readers: pros/cons, whether or not they are available in other countries and maybe post on it in a few weeks. It's such an interesting topic and it seems like people are really wanting to find out this information in the blogging community.

Anonymous said...

The fees for transferring documents is what is frustrating me most. But it appears that you could transfer files without fees if you don't use whispernet. If you ever decide which device you like best, Kindle or Sony, please let me know.

wallace said...

Chachic -- I second Carin about removing books from your Kindle. I've never had it happen and don't worry about it at all. As long as they refund my money that is. :) I agree that they will be acutely more careful before offering books on the Kindle so they don't have to remove them ever again.

Also, I'm under the impression that if you upload anything from your home computer it should be free (providing you do it manually by plugging your Kindle into the computer). I've heard of some business people who upload large files onto their Kindles to read so that they don't have to lug them around in their briefcases while traveling.

And though it's not advertised, you can actually access the web (for free) on your Kindle. I've looked things up on wikipedia before when I didn't have a computer nearby.

All in all, I think it's worth it if you read a lot. At the price that they are selling it for right now (below $200) you could make your money back in just one year if you bought about 20 books. And that's just in a year. I've had mine going on 2 years, so I've already made my money back and then saved some! :)

Man of la Books said...

I'll eventually get an eReader but I have my eye set on the Nook. There are two major reasons I won't go for the Kindle:
1) It doesn't support ePub and I think that's where the industry is going (I can already borrow eBooks from my local library in ePub format).

2) Because when you get a book on the Kindle you don't actually own it. I don't care that Amazon didn't have the rights to sell 1984. Will they come to my house and take it off the shelf if I bought a physical copy?

Carin B. said...

@Man of La Book - I own both a Sony Reader and a Kindle and like both. I don't have a huge issue with the 1984 thing because they refunded people's money. We're all human and make mistakes. If it became habitual I would worry. Let me know if you get a Nook. I'd like to see what you think of it. Most people seem to love it!

Wallace said...

Man of la Books...

Tell me how "owning" the book is different on the Nook than the Kindle (not using the 1984 example, because obviously B&N has the advantage of being a later-comer and learning from Amazon).

I agree, the borrowing aspect is awesome. I do hope Kindle will implement that (and allow users to borrow each other's books). I imagine that will have to come in eventually so they can keep relevant.

I'm sure the Nook will be great! I think the argument here is more about if someone should have an e-reader, and I definitely think they are useful to people who read a lot. :)

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