Monday, February 28, 2011

Kindle Update

I promised a review of my Kindle in my last post on e-Readers, but have been totally swamped at work and haven't had time to even think about it until now. I still don't have the time or energy for a full post, but wanted to give a brief update on how I'm doing with it.

So far I finished one fiction book: Vernor Vinge's "A Fire Upon the Deep". I had previously bought a hard copy from Half Price Books (I'm not a big book buyer, being a library lover, but this is my favorite bookstore hands-down). I found I read just as much post-Kindle reading as I did pre-Kindle, but one disappointment is that e-Books are sometimes missing some of the little extras that exist in the hard copies (and often cost the same). For example, Vinge's book postulates a theory wherein the galaxy is divided into 'zones of thought' (basically, computers work differently in each zone, and I wondered if he was trying to put forth the idea that P=NP might be true in some galactic zones and untrue in others - a neat idea). There is a diagram at the beginning of the book that shows what this would look like, but it is absent from the e-version. I think this would probably make the ideas in the book harder for readers to understand, or lead to misconceptions. Differences between e- and hard copies of books is something that deters consumers and should be avoided.

I'm also reading some non-fiction, including "The Boglehead's Guide to Investing", which is perfect as an e-Book. Kindle has a great interface for quickly flipping through books by chapter, it's easy to use the table of contents and also search through books or place bookmarks for easy access later. Kindle might even be better for reading non-fiction than it is for fiction, but I'm undecided on this point so far.

One thing that I only discovered recently was how to access footnotes. In reading "The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest", I realized there were tonnes of footnotes, but only once I was about a third of the way into the book. I think Kindle could do a better job of making the footnotes more obvious on the page. Also, instead of flipping you to the back of the book, it would be nice if they could appear like dictionary definitions, which sort of pop up at the bottom of the page. This would make it easier to read footnotes at a glance just as you would in a hard copy book.

Finally, a note about the device itself - unless you have really great lighting, get the case with the built-in light. I find I use it about 90% of the time, since I often read in low-light and the screen's contrast makes it hard to see the letters. I got the case shown in the picture above, and really like it.

Anyway, I'm thoroughly enjoying the Kindle so far and have lots of books waiting in my queue. I still highly recommend this product!

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