I was wrong: I now have and love the Kindle

16 07 2008

A while back, I decided I wasn’t going to buy the Amazon Kindle. I wrote about it here: Why I’m Not Buying a Kindle (Yet)

Well, the following things changed my mind.

  • Simple logistics. Amazon dropped the price $50 and actually has the devices in stock (they’d been sold out for months)
  • With Molly on maternity leave, I knew I’d be spending a lot of time commuting by bus or vanpool instead of carpool. I wanted to use that time for reading, and I thought the Kindle would be great for commuting.
  • I wrote that I’d be willing to pay lots for an e-library instead of an e-book. One day, it dawned on me: With Kindle’s built-in wireless connection to Amazon, I have purchased an e-library. Essentially, Amazon’s entire stock of Kindle books is my e-library, where I only have to pay for the books I wind up reading.

That last point has the potential to really change my book buying habits. Today, I have a pretty large collection of books that I’ve purchased because I wanted to read them someday, and I haven’t gotten around to it. I buy these books because I want them available to me when I’m ready to read them.

With the Kindle, I don’t have to buy the books well in advance. Instead, I can buy it one minute before I actually sit down to read it. Even better, most Kindle books have free “samples” (the first chapter or so). That’s lead to a new pattern for me, which goes something like this:

  • I peruse the New York Times book review, or hear about some book on NPR that sounds interesting.
  • If the book has a Kindle edition (and most new books do), I send a free sample of the book to my Kindle as soon as possible. This way, I build up a list of books I’d like to read someday on my Kindle, without spending any extra money.
  • When I’m ready to start a new book, I peruse the samples on my Kindle. I start reading whatever matches my mood of the moment. If I like the sample, I buy the entire book.

So far, this system works great.

I have to say the experience of reading the Kindle is in many ways more convenient than reading a paper book, at least for my current lifestyle. It’s all because the Kindle is easy to read with just one hand holding the Kindle, and it requires very little movement to turn the page. This makes it easy to read the Kindle while standing on a crowded 545 bus. Or something I never expected: It’s easy to read the Kindle while holding a 4-week-old baby in one arm and with the pinkie of one hand in that baby’s mouth. Ain’t no way I could read a paper book that way.

And finally, if you’re reading this, Jeff Bezos, you should put me on your payroll. I get the same question 1-2 times per day on my commute: “How do you like that thing?” Subsidizing the Kindles of commuters in major cities is probably the best way you can get the word out.

Amazon Kindle

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