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Kindley Book Club

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1timspalding
Edited: Oct 8, 2009, 11:09pm Top

So, we caved and got a Kindle. I want to figure our what, if anything, we can do with or for the thing. I have to say up front, I'm a sceptic. I've played with them before, and wasn't impressed, and I really fear what the Kindle is going to do to some things I care about (see blog post http://www.librarything.com/thingology/2009/10/ebook-economics-are-libraries-scr...). But it could hardly be said I'm anti-technology. On the contrary...

So I got it, played around a little bit book-less. Checked out LibraryThing on it. Got Casson's Libraries of the Ancient World, a book I have, but haven't read most of. (I wanted to get at least one book I could compare to the printed version.) Am working through that.

Initial impressions:

1. I hate the user interface. I'm spoiled by Apple products. The whole menu system bothers me. I honestly haven't figured out where everything is, which is pretty bad considering I work in technology and I played with it very attentively for twenty minutes. I keep wanting to touch the screen. There doesn't appear any way to move to the MP3 playing part.

2. The typesetting on books is distracting. It force-justifies lines very aggressively, leading to lines that have just three or four words, with huge spaces. Then the next line may have very tight word-spacing. It's hard for me to tell how much my annoyance is "normal" and how much is that, as someone who used to do graphic design, the spacing just appalls me.

3. I'm finding the "locations" system annoying. I wanted to skip forward a bit and then jump back. I knew I was at 4%, but I didn't know the "location" (which makes Casson's slim volume seem 2,000 pages long). So I had to page back back back. The flicker isn't so bad page by page, but it makes "thumbing through it unbearable." I'll probably go epileptic like a Japanese schoolkid watching comics.

4. The maps are crap. Why can't I zoom in on them?

5. The book starts at the preface, but I can page back to the TOC and to the page that has all the publishing information. It's kept the edition numbers and displays the paperback ISBN. Weird.

6. I'm bored enough with it that I'm back on LT...

Sorry to be so negative. Will this all pass?

2timspalding
Oct 9, 2009, 12:02am Top

Images of the LT Kindle.

http://bit.ly/1ctyNo

3auntmarge64
Oct 9, 2009, 10:15am Top

Hi Tim,

I think how people feel about their Kindle depends on
1. why they've bought one, and their expectations of what it does
2. what they read on it
3. their willingness to adjust to the new and rather unbending reading experience
4. their willingness to play around with fonts, skins, and covers to make the type and background work for them

1. It's a reading tablet, period, with a nod to those who want to listen to books and with an easy way to download books from the vendor. It's not meant to be entertainment except as print books are entertainment. Your point #6, that you were so bored with it you left it, indicates to me that you were expecting a toy, which it definitely isn't. It's a book. Even those of us with a K2, which you appear to have, are early adopters, and we love it because of what it lets us do now, not because of what it doesn't do yet. There are also quite a few readers with visual problems who find they can now read again, thanks to the enlargeable text and read-to-me (granted, not great, but it will read pretty much anything printed out loud, except those books publishers have blocked. That's been a real boon to the disabled and those who like to do more than one thing at a time.)

2. Most people who love their Kindles use them only for reading and for carrying around lots of books in a convenient package. We learn what types of books to avoid on Kindle (those in which illustrations are important) and enjoy the rest. Someday there will be larger and more flexible screens and color e-ink, but in the meantime we enjoy the freedom the Kindle gives us to carry our libraries around with us.

3. The boredom of font consistency is a stumbling block for some at first. It took me a month or two before I didn't notice it any more. It will indeed be lovely at some point when, with the click of a button, we can use fonts interchangeably. The "locations" issue is a problem. Most people hate it. It is possible to go forward and back by chapters in most books using the 5-way button, and there may be a tip somewhere to go forward and back a few pages at a time (not sure where I read that but will look for it if you are interested). You can find some discussion about justification and other formatting issues here: http://kindleformatting.com/blog/2009/02/kindle-2-review-formatting-perspective....

4. The native settings give K2 a particularly dark background and light print, and I found it hard to read, so like many others, I've used a font hack: https://sites.google.com/a/etccreations.com/kdesignworks/Home/font-install-files. You can read the other pages on his site for some of the technical stuff, and he has a photo of a hacked K2 with a contrasting skin at https://sites.google.com/a/etccreations.com/kdesignworks/Home/enhancing-your-image.

Here is my own K2 with skin and cover: http://auntiem6.ranchoweb.com/kindleROHpurple.jpg
and with the font hack: http://auntiem6.ranchoweb.com/kskincolorskin2resized.jpg
(usually I read with the font set smaller, and I've played around with line spacing.)

I read perhaps 3-4 times as much now as I did two years ago. The Kindle has enabled me to read long books I used to avoid because of weight, and no matter where I go, I always have a large reading selection in my purse. I'm a believer!

For more feedback, take a look at http://www.kindleboards.com/

4timspalding
Edited: Oct 9, 2009, 10:41am Top

>3 auntmarge64:

While expectations certainly play a part in our perceptions, a theory of reception that is only about the recipient and his limitations, and not the thing itself, is really little more than an ad hominem argument. Well, you didn't like Beloved because you're a white man, and you're not willing to adjust your perceptions of "good."

Now, I think questions of taste are basically inarguable, but I'm not saying you like your Kindle for essentially personal reasons.

To you points:

1. It's not a reading tablet. It offers certain features. For example, it's supposed to allow you to bookmark pages and take notes. (These weren't recognized as features of a book until the Kindle made them so unpleasant.) The Kindle also has a web browser and an audio reader built. I content these features are generally underwhelming. The browser is god-awful. The reader is the best of the lot, I think. Moving around a book, however, is much less easy to do than with a regular book.

2. I can see the Kindle is better for some types of books than others. I'm beginning to see it's a novel-reading machine. Good annotation-making, page-marking, browsing, footnotes, tables and illustration features are necessary for much other reading—most of the reading I do. Frankly, I also read novels with a pen, and jump around to read and re-read, but I know I'm not typical. If you want to read a book from A to Z, not caring much about where you are in a chapter or etc., the Kindle is a good choice.*

The worry, of course, is that what's "good enough" for the rest of the world will crowd out quality for people who care. This is, of course, the snobs lament—the availability of mass-produced automobiles has killed off all the craftsmanship! Fair enough. But I see a world in which bookstores are smaller and rarer, libraries are winking out across the country and I have to suffer through 170 DPI when the print world gave me 64,000—all because the heart of the book world is people who read cheap, throw-away novels like bulldozers.

3. The font-consistency doesn't bother me. It's the terrible font-justification. (See http://www.flickr.com/photos/timspalding/3994825646/). There's also a problem of sloppy encoding—the book I bought has tons of these problems—although I suspect this is an artifact of the fact that, as Kindles are still only a percent or two of the market, they aren't worth publishers time to make perfect. This will surely change.

5auntmarge64
Oct 9, 2009, 12:18pm Top

>4 timspalding:

Actually, I do like my Kindle for essentially personal reasons. It makes my life easier and makes my reading more plentiful and convenient. I love being able to sample books and buy on the spot if I'm interested, even if it's midnight and I'm in bed. The dictionary is one of the best things about it, and how I miss that when I'm reading a print book now!

I read quite a bit of non-fiction on mine, but if marking up books and turning back and forth quickly are what you need, you're right, this isn't for you, at least at this point in its development. I'm past the stage in my life when I need or want to take notes, although I do highlight passages when I want to refer to something in a review or discussion.

Don't forget that the browser (and it is awful, I agree) is under the experimental section. I don't really know why they include it at all and have assumed they were using the Kindle readership as guinea pigs. The MP3 player is something I haven't tried, so I can't comment on that. The read-to-me feature is useful when I need to lie down and close my eyes but want to continue to read. It needs improvement too, but I consider it fairly experimental as well.

As to the loss of libraries and book stores, and the masses who read trash, you're right. I'm a retired librarian and still use my own PL frequently, but I rarely buy my own books in on-the-ground bookstores. Kids' books, yes, because with children I like to encourage the desire to read on the spot. But if Kindle ends up good enough to publish, say, Dr. Seuss in full color and size, then I'd be content to buy Kindles for the kids in my life. New technology is a bitch for old formats, isn't it?

Bottom line for me is that I love books, real books, but even more, I want to be able to read what I want to read and not have to winnow it down by when I can get to the bookstore or library and whether they can get the book for me.

OK, gotta go lie down now and read - one print NF and three on the Kindle: a bio of James Monroe, a mystery, and a Pulitzer lit winner.

6Helcura
Oct 9, 2009, 1:20pm Top

Tim - I think your description of the Kindle as a novel-reading machine is actually very accurate. What the Kindle excels at is providing lots of pure text books in a compact, comfortable to read format. In fact, the Kindle is primarily competition for the cheap throw-away paperback.

From that perspective, you really don't need to worry about what the Kindle and other e-readers will do the book market that you care about. In fact, if cheap paperbacks are replaced by cheap e-books then there will be more room in bookstores for nice, leather-bound books with full color maps and wide margins for notations (and you won't have to step around the ignorant masses who read lots of novels when you're shopping).

Many people, me included, are not buying a bunch of wood pulp flattened into leaves and sewn together when we buy a book. We're buying the story (fiction or non-fiction, good books tell stories). I buy a lot of books in a lot of formats because I happen to have a passion for stories. As long as I can access the story comfortably and easily, I don't really care if it's a cheap paperback, a Kindle, or an expensive hardback.

People who ask if technology will doom the book are asking the wrong question. The question to ask is what will technology do to the story? Will the written word vanish if e-readers become popular? I doubt it. Will paper books disappear like cuneiform clay tablets? Probably not anytime soon, but if they do, we'll appreciate those books that are works of art as art, and we'll get our stories via the new technology. We'll make new things that will do what libraries do, but that use the the new technology.

The creation and sharing of stories is, I suspect, as old as the first true human. The forms change, but the fundamentals remain the same and they are a part of what makes us what we are.

7Helcura
Oct 9, 2009, 1:28pm Top

And on another point, altogether . . .

One of the things that LT offers to Kindle readers that is particularly useful is its cataloging and tagging capabilities. Kindles suck at book organization. You can't even group books into categories. The only way to sort is by title, author or newest. I have several hundred books on my Kindle, and it's a total pain trying to find a book if I don't remember the title or author. I can't even scan the shelves by jacket color like I can in my physical library.

I don't have all my Kindle books on LT yet, but I really appreciate what LT does for me in terms of finding the ones I have cataloged. I don't think Amazon is going to improve the software any time soon - they seem to be dazzled by hardware, and also they probably would have to release software upgrades free or low cost, so it's not necessarily that profitable for them, so I expect LT will have be a useful tool for Kindle readers for some time to come.

8timspalding
Oct 9, 2009, 5:26pm Top

From that perspective, you really don't need to worry about what the Kindle and other e-readers will do the book market that you care about.

The problem is, novel-reading is a large piece of the book market—certainly more than half. If people turn to the Kindle for their novel reading, and paper for other books, paper books may survive, but physical bookstores largely will not. Indeed, for Amazon, the effect is self-reinforcing. The more the Kindle succeeds, the harder time physical bookstores will have, the smaller their stock, and the more that business will gravitate to Amazon.com. My town used to have three independent bookstores. It has one now. This isn't the working out of some greater good—it's the shit-ification of a mid-sized town.

Now, I share your idea that technological changes are deep changes. I have no question "stories" will continue. Indeed, "how will they change?" is a right question to ask. We can be sure ebooks will change things, much as clay, papyrus, paper and printing did. As a student of ancient history, this topic is of much interest to me. (It is, for example, reasonable to argue that the shift to paper was a net loss for the preservation of ancient literature.) But it is not true that because people will always want "stories" and some people will want things that aren't stories, that book culture will be similar in richness or quality. That's just an assertion. The real world changes, whether you look optimistically upon it or not.

Most importantly, I see no reason to be rosy about the future of bookstores when ebooks really take off. They will shrink and die. Libraries will also find their core mission undermined and, I think, will also shrink, if not entirely die. The book business, formerly a rather chaotic mix of publishers, distributors and wholesalers, will increasingly be forced to distribute through a small number of channels, with technological lock-in. In unfree countries, centralization will make censorship that much easier, and the data collected—Amazon knows every page you read and note you take—will be monitored for political intent.

Now, maybe that's good; new forms of literature may emerge. The Samizdat will get a big shot in the arm. Bookstores occupy a lot of space that might better have a TCBY. It would also be great if there were more expensive cars in Seattle. Or, maybe, the demise of bookstores and libraries, and the move to centralization of access, can be a bad thing.

I've been in technology a while now. I am bully on it, and anyway have been. But I'm tired of the idea that everything will always turn out for the better. It is not enough to believe that everything will out well because consumers have some access to some form of bookish product. Cultures change, and not always for the better. And sometimes inefficiencies—such as the inefficiencies of physical bookstores or libraries—have positive externalities which, I suspect, we will only miss when they are gone.

9lindapanzo
Oct 9, 2009, 5:47pm Top

I got my Kindle 2 as a gift back in March and it's become indispensable for me. No more lugging bags of books on trips. No more finishing the book I've been reading and being stuck somewhere without a book.

In situations, where both a print and a Kindle copy are available, Jeff Bezos said in an NYT article earlier this week that 48 percent of sales are in the Kindle format now.

10rbott
Oct 10, 2009, 10:20pm Top

Tim, I think you have the wrong idea of what Kindle is about. I travel a lot and pre K2 I would put a novel in my bag and most of the time it would be finished on the long flight to Europe, then there would be nothing to read on the rest of the trip. It is hard to find English language books in most small book shops in Europe. I can read German, French and Italian, but for me, it is a chore to read a novel in these languages and enjoy it. In May I loaded 5 books into my Kindle and read 4 of them on my trip. Last week I loaded 4 more books for my trip coming up the week after next and will most likely complete one on the 10 hour flight to London and another on the flight home.
That small package that fits in the side pocket of my carry-on bag holds a world of reading for me in my travels, and I will never be without it.
Bob

11MAJGross
Oct 11, 2009, 10:01am Top

I just returned from a year in Baghdad. The trip back involved a lot of gear, three days of travel and my Kindle 2. I think the Kindle is a perfect tool for those of us who travel so much. My biggest complaints are about the same as Tim's complaints. I just enjoy all the good features of it more than I am annoyed by the faults.

12timspalding
Oct 11, 2009, 6:25pm Top

Tim, I think you have the wrong idea of what Kindle is about

I understand they're great for travel. I just took a succession of flights—6, 16 and 2 hours—to get to New Zealand, and I loaded it up with about a dozen books. So I get that. What am I missing? Does the fact you enjoy it somehow mean it won't starve bookstores?

13krazy4katz
Edited: Oct 11, 2009, 10:33pm Top

Hi Tim,

I love my kindle. I feel so fortunate to be able to afford it and it has enriched my life. I don't have the time or patience to browse bookstores. I also don't have room for more books. I never go to the library. It is regrettable, but the truth. I fully understand the value of libraries and independent bookstores - I just don't use them.

About the bookstores, yes, it's probably, sadly true - just like record stores. Does this mean the kindle is an immoral device? That is the impression I get from your comments. It has its limitations, but there are benefits. Perhaps one of them will be better access to books that are out of print, but not out of copyright. Electronic versions will make it cheaper to provide them to more people. You might even call this "democritization." Or something like that. Improving access to rare books etc etc as the technology improves and publishers realize they can sell books without having to stock inventory.

In truth, the internet itself is responsible for this trend. Even LT, with its links directly to Amazon, plays a role in this. Unintended consequences etc etc.

P.S. Hope you are having fun in New Zealand.

14J_ipsen
Edited: Oct 11, 2009, 11:24pm Top

Just randomly grabbing a book out of the pile next to my desk: Historians Holiday by Briant, Arthur. Printed by the Dropmore Press in 1946 on a hand press on hand made paper. The pages are thick and white, the print is crisp, perfectly black and with the bite only a letterpress can make.

Perhaps I'm the minority, but when I commit my very limited time to reading a book, I prefer to read it with as many senses as possible. With a good made book I can see, feel, even smell the difference. With a kindle, I can only see and even that, not very well as the posters above me (and Mr. Baker from the Guardian) confirm.

Like with haute cuisine and fast-food, there will be always a market for both. Maybe the market for fast-food is growing at the moment because its more conveninent, fast, easy, etc..., but haute cuisine is not dead and will not die.

15timspalding
Oct 12, 2009, 12:18am Top

Does this mean the kindle is an immoral device?

No. I do worry about the collateral damage. Libraries and bookstores throw off a lot of side-benefits that, I think, we'll only miss when they're gone. Libraries and bookstores do more than that, but this "value add" needs something to be added *to*.

I can't find good comparanda. The best I've come up with is the way the television cut into street life in many parts of the world, especially in the Middle East. Television was a better options (more entertaining, easier) that hanging out in public places with your family and friends. And it created a new sense of national identity, but it also shredded street culture, isolated neighbors from each other and established a new, centralized instrument of control.

Like with haute cuisine and fast-food, there will be always a market for both

Books will go the way of vinyl. A small minority will fetishize the object. The rest of the world won't give a damn.

Update

I loaded my Kindle with more $100 of books before my 16-hour flight. Today my Kindle's screen broke. Maybe it experienced some jolt, but, man, I don't think so. Anyway, I've got a Kindle stuffed with books I want to read doing EXACTLY what the Kindle is supposed to be good for—travel. And I'm screwed. I have no books at all. I'll have to go back to the States, send it to somewhere, hope they don't call it my fault and wait for a new one.

Wish I had some books instead, I must say.

16timspalding
Oct 12, 2009, 12:19am Top

On the plus side, the USB still works, so I can work on the Kindle-data-import feature I got the damn thing for...

17CurrerBell
Oct 12, 2009, 12:49am Top

Tim #15>

I'm really sorry the dang thing broke, but I've had a K1 since summer a year ago, I got my K2 as soon as it came out last February, and I've never had any problem with breakage. Moreover, I carry my K2 with me pretty much everywhere I go. (I leave my K1 at home for back-up. K2 is easier to carry and has better software, but I think K1 is a better piece of hardware because of the user-replaceable battery and the SD card slot.)

One question, though. How were you carrying your Kindle? It's definitely not a device to carry unprotected. Personally, I use an M-Edge cover for both my K1 and my K2. (You have to use different covers because they fit differently.) Other Kindlers have different preferences for types of covers, but I can't imagine any experienced Kindler carrying one around without something fairly sturdy to protect the device in general and the screen in particular.

I hope also that you bought the extended warranty. I know some critics like Consumer Reports have a prejudice in general against extended warranties, but where there's the potential for screen-breakage, I think they're a must.

18CurrerBell
Oct 12, 2009, 1:14am Top

Whose business is going to be hurt by Kindle?

==========

I really don't think it's going to be the libraries, because

(1) they serve an educational function in addition to merely lending out books for circulation, and

(2) they are generally tax-supported, so they don't face the same type of economic competition that for-profit bookstores face.

==========

Chains like Borders and B&N will definitely suffer, but so what?

(1) The coffee's cheaper in convenience stores anyway.

(2) They do offer wireless access, but so does Kindle (though its Sprint "whispernet" network definitely isn't anything to web surf with).

(3) If I'm in a real emergency and need free internet access, I can probably get wireless access in a Starbucks, and I don't carry a netbook or a laptop with me except when I'm doing some serious long-distance travel anyway.

==========

What about the independent bookstores?

Kindle doesn't really compete with the niche bookstores that have some specialty offering, for example, an LGBTQ bookstore like Giovanni's Room in Philadelphia. Their real competition is from the chain-store booksellers, both on-line and at retail, including Amazon on-line, but not from eBook vendors. To the extent that Kindle puts the squeeze to retailers like Borders and B&N, it probably helps these niche independents.

Then there's the used bookstores, especially those selling rare books. Obviously Kindle doesn't cause any problem at all for them. Sure I've got the Brontes on my Kindle, but that doesn't replace my six-volume 1922 edition with its sixty Dulac illustrations, except that I use Kindle's mark-up and annotations features because I'm obviously not going to apply Hi-Liters to books that are close to a century old. The competition that these retailers face isn't from Kindle but from on-line sources like eBay and AbeBooks, but many of these retailers use eBay and AbeBooks themselves as a supplement to their store-fronts.

==========

So, who gets hurt? Where Kindle's concerned, it's probably the chain retailers, and there I don't have a whole lot of sympathy. The independents suffer minimal competition from Kindle, and to the extent that the chain retailers get squeezed, the indies might even have enjoy some collateral benefit.

19timspalding
Oct 12, 2009, 3:20am Top

It's definitely not a device to carry unprotected

If it can't be carried unprotected in a padded compartment of a knapsack, it should come with packaging sufficient to prevent its demise.

My iPhone COULD be used with a case. Indeed, I used one at first. Then I got tired of it, and although my iPhone has some dings around the screen area—the screen is clearly a hardened plastic—it has no dings itself and it works great.

I hope also that you bought the extended warranty. I know some critics like Consumer Reports have a prejudice in general against extended warranties, but where there's the potential for screen-breakage, I think they're a must.

It broke three days out. I'm covered, unless they say I broke it, in which case I will blog their shitty customer service to the moon.

20timspalding
Oct 12, 2009, 3:28am Top

(2) they are generally tax-supported, so they don't face the same type of economic competition that for-profit bookstores face.

Libraries have metrics. If people no longer use them, it will be noticed. They will lose funding.

Chains like Borders and B&N will definitely suffer, but so what?

One argument might be that, most households will never own a Kindle/Sony eReader, because most households are not bookish. Chains, for all their misdeeds, represent an AMAZING democritization of information for regular people. That is, a regular person today, with chains, is able to buy books that, formerly, took a special trip to a great city bookstore. The Kindle will kill off bookstores and libraries, and leave lending books in the hands of people with a spare $300 for each member of the family. Not good at all.

for example, an LGBTQ bookstore like Giovanni's Room in Philadelphia

Gay bookstores across the US are dying. This is because "regular" bookstores now offer substantial gay content. I could point you to a dozen articles on the topic.

Then there's the used bookstores, especially those selling rare books. Obviously Kindle doesn't cause any problem at all for them

Except that it ends what "rare" means. It means before whatever date Kindle takes over. Every year they deal with a smaller, less relevant stock. "Used" is like "Classic Rock." All sorts of stuff is used, and classic rock, that wasn't when I was a kid.

21MAJGross
Oct 12, 2009, 9:42am Top

I haven't heard much about breakage and I have been pretty happy in that aspect. I carry my kindle in the neoprene case in my cargo pocket of my uniform. I have at least twice slammed it into the wall of a duck and cover bunker in Baghdad when the incoming alarm sounded. I'll be interested to hear if you get any flak from Amazon when you send it in.

22krazy4katz
Edited: Oct 12, 2009, 10:42am Top

MAJGross,

Glad you and the kindle got home safely.

Tim,

So sorry about the bad screen. That is really terrible. I also have the m-edge cover for my K1, carry it with me every day (~18 months now) and no problems. Perhaps the K2 is more fragile, being thinner than the K1. Perhaps some stress in your pack caused it to bend?

Somehow I feel that this was fated to happen to you. Everything you dislike about electronic books AND electronics was going to come at you at once. I hope there are some decent bookstores where you are and that Amazon will replace your kindle immediately.

k4k

23krazy4katz
Oct 12, 2009, 11:53am Top

Hey Tim,

Forgot to add, until reminded by another post, that you should be able to download your books onto your iPhone (there's an app for that!). Not a perfect solution by any means, but if you are desperate to read your books right now, better than nothing.

k4k

24rbott
Oct 12, 2009, 3:56pm Top

>12 timspalding: Tim, I see your point about starving book stores and agree in part, but as a book lover, I will never stop buying the hard cover editions for reading at home. My Kindle is for travel or for that extra hour I have to wait in the doctor's waiting room.
I bought the Kindle brand cover along with the K2 and for 18 months have carried it in the side pocket of my carry-on bag (always with the screen towards the center of the bag) and have not had any problem so far. Sorry for your bad luck.
Bob

25Helcura
Edited: Oct 12, 2009, 6:29pm Top

I may have come across as regarding the Kindle as the perfect model for the future of ebooks, and I didn't intend to. It's a step along the way, and a good tool for the present moment, but there will be better tools and the "Amazon owns the books" model won't last. A big chunk of the books on my Kindle didn't come from Amazon.

Ebooks are the internet in microcosm. Some winners and some losers, but personally I think most of us end up winners overall. Ebook publishing is really cheap - I've explored some of the self-published end of things, and I've read some crappy books on Kindle, but I've also read some nifty, unusual books that were worth the time, and a few naive first attempts that were charming and perhaps will someday be regarded as the baby steps of a great author.

I love those old wooden card catalog files that now cost a great deal of money in antique stores, but I would never trade LibraryThing for one. I love paper books in many ways, but I'll don't think a future dominated by epublishing will be a disaster, any more than the world dominated by the internet turned out to be a disaster.

As to inequalities, once upon a time only rich people could afford paper books. I fully support making the digital divide as small as possible, but the existence of inequalities of access doesn't make a useful tool less useful. It just means that people of good will who have the money should make an effort to get the tools into the hands of those without the money.

edited for missing phrase

26knitterbug1023
Oct 13, 2009, 11:35am Top

I have a simple question about the Kindle and haven't been able to find the answer anywhere. I live in an area that is not in the Sprint 3G coverage area. Will it be possible to download books to a Kindle via the USB cable or using WiFi. I've already got a couple of Kindle books that I read on my iPhone and downloaded them with no problem over the WiFi. I actually enjoy reading them on the iPhone and love how easy the page turns. I'm just debating on whether I want to buy a Kindle and how feasible it would be for me to use, not being in the coverage area.

27timspalding
Oct 13, 2009, 2:12pm Top

I believe the answer is: Yes. Anyone say I'm wrong?

28krazy4katz
Edited: Oct 13, 2009, 8:40pm Top

You will be able to use USB to transfer downloaded books from your computer to your kindle. The kindle does not have WiFi. What I can't remember is whether you can download the free samples via USB. I believe you can now -- you couldn't when I first purchased my K1 in January, 2008. The alternative would be to purchase the international kindle, which uses AT&T, so it has different coverage and may cover your area. Both coverage maps are on the Amazon website, so you can check. I don't know if Sprint generally has more coverage than AT&T or vice versa, so I don't know whether this would be a good idea for you. Just a thought.

Another recommendation I have relates to Tim's recent tragedy. I recommend purchasing a cover for your kindle. I think it should have the following characteristics:
1. Holds all 4 corners, not just the spine. I think this puts less stress on the kindle.
2. Has some kind of a clasp to keep it closed if it falls. I am not sure that Amazon's cover does.
3. Has some kind of padding over the area where the screen is.

I am happy with the m-edge covers for these reasons, but I know there are others that are equally as good.

k4k

29lindapanzo
Oct 13, 2009, 6:31pm Top

I love my m-edge leather cover for my Kindle 2. I also use a Waterford carrying case, like a purse, to carry it around.

I've dropped it, bumped it etc but, with all this protection, it has been fine.

One time, I was out of whispernet zone and used the USB just fine to download a purchase. I've never sampled chapters so I couldn't respond to that.

30spoiledfornothing
Oct 13, 2009, 8:26pm Top

timspalding - you read stuff other than novels on the kindle? how? Well I know you get newspapers and stuff through amazon - I haven't gotten those. Everything needs to formatted just right to work on the kindle and if the formatting is bad, it just kills the experience. I agree with the others - you do need a good cover to protect the kindle. I've a m-edge one. And, yes, a cover should come with the kindle, but it doesn't. Probably has something to do with amazon wanting to make more money off the covers.

26: knitterbug1023 - you can download stuff onto the kindle via the usb. It does not come with wifi, just whispernet.

31timspalding
Oct 14, 2009, 12:49am Top

So far, I've read a history of New Zealand, the Twitter Book and Beautiful Data. No novels, although I bought a raft of them.

32spoiledfornothing
Oct 14, 2009, 12:48pm Top

I've never heard of any of them. :P And a book on twitter? I didn't know there were such things - twitter isn't that complicated. Did they have graphs and tables and pictures and things? Did they show up well on the kindle?

33timspalding
Oct 14, 2009, 2:00pm Top

Heh. It was by Tim O'Reilly, who is a minor genius. It actually had a few useful tips in it. But I'd read him on coal-extraction or whatever.

34dheijl
Edited: Oct 14, 2009, 3:05pm Top

I just read an interesting book on the topic of e-books and libraries, it's called Y Llyfrgell by Fflur Dafydd, but it's written in Welsh so you'll have to believe me.
It won the prestigious (in Wales) Gwobr Goffa Daniel Owen (Daniel Owen remembrance award).
In the novel we're in the year 2020 and the Welsh National Library has just done away with all paper books, everything has been digitized and can only be read electronically. The plot is centered around what could happen if politics were involved and is written as a kind of thriller with lots of black humour and satire.

Danny
---

35spoiledfornothing
Oct 14, 2009, 9:11pm Top

33: timspalding - books by O'Reilly publishing? I have some books published by O'Reilly! Sadly, none are in ebook format as I bought them from a bookstore (some for school, some just because) before I got my kindle.

36IronMike
Oct 14, 2009, 10:11pm Top

Hey Tim: The font-justification drives me crazy too. I've done some proof reading for the Gutenberg Project, and much of the stuff on the Kindle would never pass muster there. They also have a terrible habit of leaving end of line hyphens around when the hyphenated word is no longer at the end of a line. So you get something like "be-cause" in the middle of a page.

So I use the K2 only for novels; and I always download the free sample, and check the sample for readability before buying the book. Also, the free books on Project Gutenberg are generally much easier to read, so I've loaded up on the Gutenberg freebies. They're all written before 1923 though, so if you're not interested in old novels it's a problem. I've been pleasantly surprised; some of them are quite good.

From what I've heard, the Kindle-DX is much better at handling graphs, maps, etc. Unfortunately it's pricey, and I don't see the price coming down anytime soon.

37timspalding
Oct 15, 2009, 12:39am Top

>34 dheijl:

That book sounds great. Is it available in English?

>35 spoiledfornothing:

Yes, by O'Reilly, but by the man himself. He's awesome.

>So you get something like "be-cause" in the middle of a page.

Yeah. I know. Blech. But these are not permanent problems, so I don't want to make them a major part of my criticism. It's irritating, for sure. Books shouldn't get in the way of themselves.

38dheijl
Oct 15, 2009, 12:58pm Top

>37 timspalding:

Afraid not...

Danny
---

39auntmarge64
Oct 18, 2009, 9:20am Top

Re: formatting. Sometimes changing the font size helps. Don't know why.

I read NF quite a bit on the Kindle, but nothing for which the illustrations are important to me. I'm assuming the DX would be better for those cases.

Re: covers. The K1 came with one (a horrible one, and it was usable, but easier to read without). My niece rolled over onto hers in bed one night and broke the screen, so we replaced it (her fault) and also bought her an Oberon cover. The K2 has an Amazon cover but it has to be bought separately. It's a decent cover, but uninspired. I have an Oberon for my K2, as well as a Waterford carrying case for when I don't want to take my purse. I always have the case on, even around the house. From what I've seen and read, the screen doesn't actually crack, but the mechanism under it for displaying the e-ink breaks and the screen will no longer display properly. A cover is an absolute must, since it's as fragile as a laptop screen.

40timspalding
Oct 21, 2009, 1:02am Top

See http://www.librarything.com/topic/75432

B&N introduced the "Nook."

41auntmarge64
Oct 21, 2009, 9:54am Top

>40 timspalding: Tim, are you going to get one to try?

42CurrerBell
Oct 21, 2009, 10:24am Top

40, 41>

Here are some comments about the Nook I made on IMDb (user-name michael1951) just a couple minutes ago

43spoiledfornothing
Oct 21, 2009, 6:59pm Top

it looks good. i think i got my kindle too soon. :P

44hamartophobic
Oct 22, 2009, 9:36am Top

Accept it for what it is. A tool, not a monster. I have a K2 and a KDX. The K2 is great for text intensive books. I travel a lot and the Kindle has helped me read more than I otherwise would. I buy as many books (paper) as I ever have, but I buy more in total than before. The DX is great for most pdf files, but not all because you cannot adjust the type size. Mostly I use it to transfer work-related pdfs and journal articles rather than carry around stacks of paper. It is wonderful for that. I also think it will become a useful substitute for laptops when the main purpose is accessing works on the Internet. All it needs is better connectivity. I have no problem with the interface once I got used to it. It is simply a matter of taking the time to adapt to its features.

As the price drops, I suspect e-readers will have the biggest effect on the throw-away market (sorry), like romance novels, self-help, etc. So I suspect the bookstore market will be affected. Maybe bookstores will shift to carrying a better selection of real books. For example, back in the day Borders used to carry an excellent selection of university press books. They carry almost none now, a combination of economics and maximizing sell-through. Successful independent bookstores are mostly successful when they specialize. The chains, not technology, killed the generalist independent bookstores.

BTW, the original Kindle came with a cheap case. Amazon stopped with the K2. I think it was probably more of a matter of supporting the growing 3rd party market than anything else. They make money on those too.

I'm as anti-monopoly, anti-big business as anyone. However, I have not encountered any retailer, on-line or brick, with the quality of customer service, convenience and selection as Amazon. Not to mention the fastest, cheapest shipping on the Internet. For $79 a year you get everything within 3 days of ordering. I usually get everything in the next day if I order before noon because the regional warehouse is a 100 miles from me. I suspect the Kindle will develop similarly based on customer desires and usage.

45LouisBranning
Oct 23, 2009, 2:00pm Top

#44,BIBLIOPHOBIC, I got my K2 in June and in that same month bought the only paper&paste book I've bought since, Dave Eggers' Zeitoun. I'd forgotten about my Amazon Prime, which was charged to my account in August, but realizing it a week later, cancelled it, and received a full $79 refund from Amazon.

46hamartophobic
Oct 24, 2009, 10:44am Top

>45 LouisBranning:

BTW, Zeitoun is a great read. McSweeney's books in general (not Zeitoun) is an example of the type of works that don't translate well to e-readers. The physical form is one of the defining characteristics of their works.

47anivyl
Nov 19, 2009, 10:01pm Top

Hi Tim,

Firstly, I will have to say that you are presenting a very interesting argument. Personally, I am into technology. I don't work in that field, but I am more of a "hobbyist" so to speak. However, you will still find me toting around a datebook, even though I have a laptop and an iphone. I love my paper products, and I love the smell of fresh books and the touch of some good (quality!) paperbacks/hardcovers/leatherbound books. Hell, even as recently as last weekend, I shopped in a traditional handmade leather bound book shop.

I won't stop collecting books, or bibles - but the kindle presented a new option for me. In the past 6 years that I have been out here in Australia, I have barely touch as many books as I did in the last year that I was in Singapore. I worked so much, I don't drive, school was hell (and I didn't even get much chance to read my textbooks either!) that the only thing I read was what was popular. maybe once in every 6 months.

I didn't even noticed when my favourite author passed away. that's not to say Kindle will make me sit up and notice that by the way, but I would LOVE to get back into reading the way I used to, 3 books at a time, chowing them down like a lawn mower. Kindle can sit in my bag during work hours, and read with me while I am commuting. And I won't destroy my books just because my bottle spilt or one of my dementia patients ripped it apart.

Secondly, I read and understood your argument about how it could destroy libraries and the economy behind libraries. you are right in pointing out that a large majority of the reading crowd read fiction. More and more, I find few people interested in going through old books and trying to read and understand vintage stories, dramas, poems - stuff. besides, like fashion, it seems now there's a trend (lol), first it was harry potter and his magical world, now it's twilight and the vampiric world. fascinating!

At the same time, the library also presents another alternative. there will (currently) always be books that cannot be found in the digital world. You won't find the beautiful calligraphic text of the original lutheran bible on Kindle. And even if you do, it would be hard to understand the beauty of the colorful calligraphy unless you hold the bible itself.

also, this is coming from someone who used to *steal* from libraries. Oh yes, I am ashamed of it now, so don't be hating me. I also know I am not alone. there are many books from kindergarten till university that was beyond my financial abilities. but there very wonderful resources/stories captured my soul. but because of their age and how some of them are out of print, you probably won't see alot of them ever again. I can assure you too, much as I have stolen from the libraries I used to go to, people have also stolen from me for the same reasons. and if not, they come back utterly ruined from jealousy, pure spite, care-less ness and etc. many a friendship have been lost thanks to that!

Yet, with the age of the digital book, I am hoping this will all be reversed. Yes, people can illegally download books, out of print or otherwise. Books, however, is the physical manifestation of knowledge that is meant to be shared. Perhaps cheaper, and easier to be shared than it used to be.

Finally, I love my libraries. I just can't travel very well as I don't drive and am unable to afford driving + car. I don't live that far from the nearest library, but it is not well stocked. most of those within this state isn't - except for the national and university libraries. But in a country with large empty spaces in between, if I do ever move out into the bushes, there won't be any library for me. Hell, I just have to drive 2 hours out into the little country town to NOT see a single library.

I am not going to bore you with others have already mentioned to you, the DRM's and limited licensing and what-nots. I believe that you can understand for people with different lifestyles and needs/wants, the Kindle can fulfill what the library and a physical book might not. You might not like it, and it might not even suit you but it might suit me and would definitely fill the empty place in my soul where I just used to connect with books.

And I don't even own a Kindle!

P.S why would you use a kindle to read maps anyways?!?! use your iphone!

48dancingstarfish
Nov 22, 2009, 5:40pm Top

I have a kindle, and I still buy paper books too. I buy books on the kindle for easy traveling (went to japan with 25 books, and LOVED it) and for instant gratification (ever wanted to read the next in a series after finishing your book at 3am?) But I still buy real books too, and use the library.

I don't think it has to be one or the other, for any reason. I love my kindle, but I love my books too.

49FicusFan
Nov 25, 2009, 2:53pm Top

I don't have a kindle, but got the Kindle App for my Ipod Touch. Hated reading long works on the computer, so I thought I would hate ebooks too. Turns out they are fine (though yes some of the spacing is a pain).

I used it to get the next book in a series that I wanted to keep reading, and I was too sick with the flu to go out and get.

I also got an oop book that I couldn't find in my local used stores and didn't want to order and pay shipping for.

I also got a book that was only available in HC in the US and I don't buy HCs, much cheaper and no shipping.

So far I am using it for books I can't get right away. But then I don't really use independents anyway, I have near me 2 huge chain stores a block from each other. If local bookstores and libraries can't compete then let them go under. We are not obliged to support the book version of the slide rule, or the typewriter.

Stories and reading will always be with us, and its simply a case of adapting to what comes next.

50dana77kc
Feb 8, 2010, 7:55am Top

I received a Kindle in December 2009. I am and always have been an avid reader. For the past ten years, due to a rare immune disease, I have been losing the use of my hands and arms. This past year I had resigned from my book club, which I dearly loved, as holding a book and turning pages became an exercise in frustration and sadness for me. Then, The Kindle as a gift from my husband. I had previously said "No" to a Kindle because it made me so sad to think of having to use one instead of a "real" book. What a proud and foolish woman I was. Since December I have read "Loving Frank", "The Help", "Olive Kitteridge", half of "Gilead" and started "Sea of Poppies."

While new technology may challenge the status quo of many things, it opens horizons and vistas for many others. Nothing is an absolute. The Kindle restoreth my soul...

51krazy4katz
Feb 8, 2010, 3:40pm Top

Dana,

Thank you very much for sharing your story. I am so happy for you that you can read again. I wish you many happy years with your kindle.

k4k

52timspalding
Feb 8, 2010, 6:29pm Top

Yeah, I think you made the first truly excellent, basically irrefutable case for the Kindle :)

Did you give up on Gilead?

53dana77kc
Feb 8, 2010, 8:50pm Top

Did you give up on Gilead?>Tim

Promise not to laugh...I keep rereading the reviews here of Gilead and thinking, "What the heck is wrong with me?" I am sloshing my way through it and am determined to somehow love it. I don't dislike it. I just haven't fallen head over heels with it. In my own defense, I knew my husband for 10 years before I quit saying we were just friends and then we married 6 months later. I tend not to rush to judgements...

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