Amazon Kindle – five days in.

amazon_kindle_21 On Saturday last week I was lucky enough to get an early Christmas present, an Amazon Kindle. This little baby has been pretty high on my gadget lust list for quite some time and it was a genuine surprise when I opened up the wrapping.

Of course, readers in the US have had the ability to purchase a Kindle for quite some time but it is a relatively new innovation in Australia because the wireless capability wouldn’t work – even if you did manage to smuggle one in. Now thought it is all smooth sailing and we pretty much have all the capabilities here in Australia that users in the US do.

Now that I am five days in I think I am in a position to provide some feedback. First – the things that I really like:

  1. The form factor and weight is pretty much perfect, I have it in the leather Kindle pouch and it is about the same weight as one of my sci-fi space opera books.
  2. The screen is very readable, in fact I’m just about to start reading the Destiny’s Children series by Stephen Baxter and I’m sad that I have to switch back to paper book format because I can only get the last book of the series in Kindle format (more on that later).
  3. Battery life is amazing. I’ve really only charged it once in the five days I’ve had it and I’m still only half way through one charge – and I’ve been reading fairly heavily.

There are also a few things that I think Amazon could improve with this device:

  1. Navigation and menus; in book navigation is as simple as it could be, and the device really does disappear in your hands. However, when you are not reading content and doing things like managing content it can be less than obvious – for example figuring out how to remove content from the device.
  2. Content availability; there is actually more content than you could ever read available for the Kindle, but they seem to be missing some pretty key authors in the sci-fi section. I’m a lover of space opera sci-fi and so I was disappointed when I couldn’t download anything from Peter F. Hamilton.
  3. Content request system; I’m not sure if this is already being done, but surface all content in the Kindle store so that people like me can request that certain books get converted to Kindle format. I’m not sure what would be involved with this but it would be great to be able to request some books from my favourite author and then have that put into a queue that I can watch.

Overall I would give the device a 4 out of 5 and I do believe that the Kindle, and Kindle-format software will be the defacto standard in the digital book/magazine market. Amazon already has relationships with pretty much every publisher on the planet and they will use that influence to drive content to the Kindle.


4 thoughts on “Amazon Kindle – five days in.

  1. Elijah Manor

    Not only did you get an early Christmas present, but you are also living in the future! Is it the 24th already where you are 😉

    I’ve been wanting to get a Kindle mainly for the PDF rendering of ebooks, but from what I can tell you can’t take notes on a PDF. Is that right? That would be a deal breaker if I couldn’t take notes cause that is what I do when I review an eBook.

  2. Scott Baldwin

    I agree, it is a great device, and I’m reading more than I have in years. For me it was the text-to-speech which sold it over other devices, and although it’s not perfect, and can still use some more contextual intonation for things like titles and lists, it is pretty damn good.

    Other negatives for the Australian experience are
    – The lack of an Australian Newspaper
    – no blogs / web browsing :(.

    But other than that, and the lack of some big name authors (as you said), I’m hooked.

    PS. I like your idea about requesting content, it might just be enough to convince publishers to strike a deal if they have 100s of people telling them, “Look, if you had this book available in kindle format, you’d have my money by now”.
    Also, I buy The Age on Saturday ($2.50 per week), if they had Age for Kindle, I would have subscribed already ($20 per month), and we still probably would buy the Saturday Age so that my partner can do the puzzles.

  3. Mitch Denny Post author

    Hi Elijah,

    I think you are right about not being able to take notes on the PDFs. Although I wonder if it is something to do with the particular formatting of the PDF. I pulled down Accelerando (free PDF eBook by Charles Stross, and had to flick into landscape mode to make the test readable. It would be nice if there was some kind of flow layout option available, but I am sure that would cause all sorts of problems as well 🙂

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