Mental Debate: Amazon Kindle

Just to let you in on the status of my minimalism work: I've been working my butt off for two weeks and now I have lots of money. I decided to treat myself to something useful, and the first thing that popped into my head was the Amazon Kindle.

The second thing that popped into my head was JESUS CHRIST NOT ANOTHER BLOODY GADGET.

The third thing was, "Well, actually, this one might be useful." And so on.

As usual, I find that the negatives of a platform are far more important than the pros, so let's talk about those first. What kinds of things are bad about the Kindle?

-I have to buy one. Yuck buying things ew.

-They'll probably get nicer and faster and better next year. For a cheaper price, too. that will undoubtedly irritate me.

-There's no removable battery. (Note that if you're like me, you get tech stuff thrown at you all the time, so it's not like my iPod nano's battery that cannot be replaced is going to kill me - I can get a new one easily)

-The books cost money. Sometimes the prices are reasonable, sometimes they are not.

-The books have DRM. The DRM can be cracked fairly easily, but DRM is DRM.

-If I want the 3G wireless fancy stuff, it will cost an extra $50. I don't really need it, but, well, you know how it is.

-The wi-fi version only supports B and G wi-fi networks. I haven't done enough research to see if it supports WPA. I sure hope so.

-Some books aren't on there yet, meaning that I won't be able to completely wipe my physical book collection away if I legally downloaded all of my eBooks. Harry Potter is a notable example.

-It's fragile compared to a paperback.

-The newest version is not out yet. There aren't any reviews. So if I want it, I may have to wait until at least to the end of August. (though pre-orders have been backed up - I may be able to cancel if the reviews are bad enough)

Okay, how about the good things?

-eInk. I like to read at night so that I fall asleep faster. As a hormonal older teenager with an odd sleeping pattern, I find that LCD screens mess up how I sleep and as a result I'm on the lookout for anything that's an alternative. However, books tend to strain my eyes too much (I'm already a squinting old person) so having a device that can increase the text would be fabulous.

-I take all of my notes electronically. An eReader would be the perfect way to read and review these. Some of my classes even have electronic textbooks.

-I already have some eBooks on my portable hard drive. Mostly Shakespeare, Sherlock Holmes and the like. Oh, and also Leo Babauta's book on minimalism, which I bought as a curiosity (it wasn't bad). And I don't have that many physical books, and the local library, while nice, has accused me of hurting books I didn't hurt, which has stopped me from using them. So it's not like I'd be throwing much away here.

-I have a million and a half books I want to read. I don't read enough and desperately want to. Having a device that doesn't require trips to the mean nasty library might help me with this. Considering how much more music I hear thanks to the MP3 file format, I hope that books could be the same way - removing that physical element allows me to explore more odds and ends.

-There's a ton of free books out there. Project Gutenburg (and the Australian one for older books I already own physically and feel entitled to, erm) is a notable example. Baen's Free Library, for another.

-The Kindle already supports lots of DRM free formats (TXT hooray! HTML YESSIR!), and is supported by Calibre, a GPL licensed eBook organizer already in Fedora 13. If that doesn't work, I can always just plug the darn thing into the computer, too.

-If I supports TXT and HTML, that means I can save websites to read on it, like, say, all of Old Man Murray. In fact, maybe I should start backing that one up now before it dies.

-A month of battery life? Yes.

-Less space than a paperback. A bit more fragile, though.

-It runs Linux, so that I don't feel too guilty about the whole "locked in" thing. It really isn't that locked in, considering the hardware. What would you do with it if you could root the thing anyway? Compile a kernel on it?

-Even if the web browser is utter garbage, it will still be able to read Google Reader's mobile version, which is more or less plain text. (In fact, I'm imagining something a little more feature filled than Lynx, but with a poor refresh rate. Manageable for a lot of things!)


aberinkulas said...

Speaking of books: I'm currently reading Little Big by John Crowley, Do Androids Dream of Electronic Sheep bcy Philip K. Dick, and Walden by Thoreau.

starduke said...

Hmm, some good pros and cons here, Aber. It's definitely an interesting piece of equipment.

Nathan R. Hale said...

You may also consider a Sony Reader. I like mine a lot and at the time it was significantly cheaper than a Kindle. Moreover, there are some online shops that sell DRM-free books, and it supports the ePub standard.