Six things I like and don't like about my new Kindle

Posted by Otis Chandler on April 16, 2009
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I got a Kindle 2 when they came out, and wanted to share my thoughts about it, after having used it for a few weeks.

Things I like:

1. The feel of it. It's very slim and has a nice form factor.

2. Having all my books with me. Somehow I'm comforted knowing that all my favorite books are always with me. I immediately went and downloaded all my favorite out of copyright books and uploaded all my programming ebooks.

3. Being able to preview the first four chapters of any book. Huge!

4. Kindle makes it easy to upload any ebook from your existing digital library. Certain files like .txt and .mobi can be copied from your computer, or pdf's can be emailed to a custom email address. Only problem is if you have hundreds of files, emailing them one at a time doesn't scale, plus there is a 10 cent charge per book.

5. Search. Sony ereader didn't have it and it was a major flaw. Come across the name of a character and can't remember who they are? Now it's easy to find exactly when they were introduced...

6. Clips - Kindle lets me take clips of documents as I read - very cool. Now we just need a way to easily get those off the Kindle and onto my Goodreads Status Updates. I'm hoping that will be possible?

Things I don't like:

1. The Kindle is electronic and expensive, so I can't take it to the beach or the pool and leave it on a towel while I jump in the water. Plus, having to turn it off while taking off or landing in an airport really chafe's me.

2. Trying to nickel and dime me for reading blogs. Why do I have to pay $1.99 to read my favorite blogs when I can get them for free anywhere else? I found a way around this by using Kindle's browser to navigate to the mobile version of Google Reader, and presto - now I can read hundreds of blogs for free. But why Kindle is trying to make money on free content, I don't know...

3. I have hundreds of books I've purchased in my bookshelf. I'd love to put those on my Kindle and read them there - but I'm sure Amazon won't give me the ebooks for books I've bought. So the net result is it doesn't look like I'll be using my Kindle much...

4. The price of most ebooks is too high! What publishers don't want you to know is that it takes less than a dollar to print a book. The rest of a books price is intellectual property, plus overhead from shipping and distribution middlemen. All that stuff should be removed from the ebook price. Even then, digital content is a different beast, and publishers need to experiment with the right price point - not just assume that what works offline will work online.

5. The joystick navigation. The Kindle uses this little joystick that you have to click up and down in order to navigate the Kindle Store or the web. The problem is that its clunky, slow, and prone to accidental clicks. Examples of devices that do the same thing but 10x better: ipod's wheel, blackberry's ball, and last but not least the scroll wheel on a mouse. It's funny too that after using an iPhone I kept wanting to touch the Kindle to make it work. Now I'd guess that e-ink and touchscreens probably don't go (?), but that joystick does need to go...

6. This list would be remiss if I didn't mention DRM. I just paid for a book on Kindle and now I can't read it on my PC if I want? I can't put it on my phone or open it up in my Adobe Reader? Consumers lose with DRM and will avoid it at all costs, including cracking the DRM and sharing the files for free. The Music industry learned that one the hard way, and is now going DRM-free. Want to know why? Listen to Cory Doctorow's talk about DRM from Tools of Change. Consumers will pay for digital content - but only if two criteria are met: it's easy to buy, and they feel like they truly own it after they buy it.

Bottom line? It isn't perfect, but I'm loving it.

ps. If want some free ebooks, this page lists some great options: My favorite source is Feedbooks, since they make a great Kindle format of each book. And as of last month all Feedbooks books are now available on Goodreads!

pps. This clip is hilarious:

Comments Showing 1-15 of 15 (15 new)

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message 1: by Jess (The Cozy Reader) (last edited Apr 16, 2009 08:09PM) (new)

Jess (The Cozy Reader) Kennedy You're missing some things!

First, there's an app for the iPhone that links directly to your account and gives you access to all your purchased books from

Second, you don't need to "turn off" your Kindle while departing and landing a plane. Just turn off the wireless and you're good. Shutting the whole thing done is not needed.

I have the Kindle 1 so I don't know about using the joystick. I wasn't thrilled to hear about that change and now I understand why it would be weird to use.

Having other ways to open the ebooks for use on the PC would be great but why read on the computer when you can read on the Kindle? Just my 2 cents.

Great review but just those few things I don't agree on.

Get the iPhone app. It's free. :)

message 2: by Shawn (new)

Shawn The reason they charge for blogs might be because they are paying for your bandwidth. Not sure how they get compensated when you browse the web through the browser though, so maybe they're just gouging.

message 3: by Matthew (new)

Matthew York It is probably worth mentioning that the Kindle 1 has a wheel scroll instead of a joystick - I enjoy it very much.

Also here's a tip - you can send many documents in a single zip file and they all get converted.

message 4: by Otis (new)

Otis Chandler Good tip Matt - I didn't know that!

Jessica: it's not about whether Amazon makes the DRM transfer to other devices - the point is that I don't truly own the content I've bought, and I think that's wrong, and will incentivize people to break the DRM - which is exactly what they are try to prevent!

Re: airplanes - I haven't yet been told to turn mine off, and even though I know you can turn off the wireless, I don't think they will care - they view it as an electronic device and trying to tell them that it has no off switch would be pointless. Anyone have any good stories about this?

message 5: by Mary (new)

Mary I really appreciate this review-I have been going back and forth about getting a kindle ever since #1 came out. I just can't commit and your info is really helpful. I still haven't made up my mind, but your review is helpful nonetheless. Thanks.

Jess (The Cozy Reader) Kennedy Here's a link to my 6 month review of the Kindle 1. I should do a second review to update how much money I've saved.

message 7: by Wendy (last edited Apr 19, 2009 10:49PM) (new)

Wendy White As I can't make full use of a Kindle here in Australia, I'm actually waiting patiently for the BeBook 2. From what I understand it reads many formats, and I can shop from many online stores DRM-free so that if I change devices later it won't be an issue.

I'm tempted to get the current BeBook, but with only a few months until #2 is released it seems better to wait. My only problem is I would love to put my comic collection into digital form as well as my novels, and reading colour comics easily using e-ink hardware is still probably a while away yet. Plus, almost no one is (legally) releasing comics in those formats.

The other thing putting me off from purchasing an ebook reader is that I still have about three shelves of physical books left to read - I might force myself to stay away from ebooks until I can read everything on those shelves first :-)

message 8: by Steve (new)

Steve Great list, Otis, but you don't have to pay the 10 cents per file conversion if you don't mind copying the files to the Kindle yourself (as opposed to them arriving wirelessly). Just send the files to be converted to (username) and the converted files will be sent to the email address associated with your Amazon account. Then just copy them to the Kindle over the USB cable.

message 9: by Stephen (new)

Stephen Theaker The Sony Reader really could do with search... It's weird how lots of features present in the last generation of ebooks (like the Rocket) are missing from this one. On the other hand, I've had the Sony a month and the Rocket ten years, and I've read ten times as many books on the Sony already.

message 10: by Benjamin (new)

Benjamin One nice feature on Goodreads for Kindle users would be the option to track your progress through a book by putting in a percentage instead of a page number.

message 11: by Christy (new)

Christy I'm with Benjamin--Good Reads should let us track Kindle style. Also, it'd be nice to be able to actually choose the Kindle Edition more often. Good reads has 1800 ebooks to choose from. But there are 275,000 Kindle books on Amazon. I tried all morning to add the 3 books I read on Kindle this week to Good Reads, but no love. Though I suppose it could be a server issue...

I never turn off my Kindle during take off or landing. If I'm feeling awed by authority I'll put it down when the flight attendants do the cabin sweep, but they've never noticed when I didn't. I think they don't really notice it because it doesn't glow.

message 12: by Otis (new)

Otis Chandler Amazon has not made their Kindle ebooks available through their API. It's frustrating for all - and please complain to them - maybe it will speed them up in opening the data!

message 13: by Rebekah (new)

Rebekah One of the more interesting articles I've seen on how the digitization of media changes the discussions of both intellectual property rights and censorship:

Why 2024 Will Be Like Nineteen Eighty-Four

message 14: by Stacey (new)

Stacey For I'm adding those 6 things to my list! Thank you, now I am really convinced Kindle is for me.

message 15: by Jackie (new)

Jackie Jess (The Cozy Reader) wrote: "Second, you don't need to "turn off" your Kindle while departing and landing a plane. Just turn off the wireless and you're good. Shutting the whole thing done is not needed."

That's not true. One of my biggest fears is flying and so I pay extreme attention to what you are supposed to do on take off and landing. Any electronic item is supposed to be turned off if below a certain elevation. At no point can you turn the wireless signal on but at that certain elevation point you can turn the electronic item on. Even though they say this repeatedly on every single flight, no one seems to understand it. One of my biggest pet peeves is seeing the person next to me on a plane with their ipod (or phone) on as we're taking off. I get terrified and they are clueless to what they are putting me through.

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