Previous reviews are at Mack Pitches Up

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Do I want a Kindle?

That's a silly question. Of course I want a Kindle, I'm gadget boy. But $359 is a lot of cat food. What put the Kindle in mind is the copy of Crime and Punishment and An American Tragedy sitting on my desk. I have a hard time keeping track of names in Russian novels and at 856 pages, An American Tragedy will be a challenge to keep sorted out.

The Kindle has several features that attract me:

  • Search - you can search for a word or phrase. After I finished The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo I couldn't remember the text on a T-shirt Salander was wearing and that seemed important at the time. I finally found it on page 262: ARMAGEDDON WAS YESTERDAY--TODAY WE HAVE A SERIOUS PROBLEM. It would have been a matter of moments to find with a Kindle.

  • Bookmarks and Annotation - When I sit down to write a blog post about a book I've read I find myself spending a third of the time flipping around trying to find that interesting passage or intriguing plot point. The Kindle lets you highlight, annotate, and clip passages for export. No longer would I have to remember to carry around a notebook - which I mostly forget. See below for an interesting use of the search function.

  • Wireless Access to Wikipedia - I refer to Wikipedia frequently. It would be nice not to have to get up from the couch, boot the computer, and hope I remember what it was I wanted to look up.

  • Built in Dictionary - a dictionary is always useful.

The future of digital books is looking brighter thanks to the success of the Kindle. Academia, in particular, looks ripe for exploitation. But as this post on The Kindle blog points out, Kindle looks to have serious competition in the academic market.
The Amazon Kindle’s success has validated the market, and now the hordes are storming in. In retrospect, the supply chain fiasco might have prevented Amazon from getting a good hold of the market. 2009 is going to determine just how much of an impact that’ll have on the kindle’s future.

I found this post on an interesting use of the Kindle find feature - Kindle “find” function unearths poor editing. The writer noticed the repetitive use of a phrase in a book and used "find" to see how many times the author used that phrase. He found 17 instances. He concluded by wondering "The question is, will these digital advances force novelists to change their writing style? I can’t wait to see."

Will I get a Kindle? Well, there are many Kindle titles I would like to read so there wouldn't be a lack of material to download. Some are really cheap; I could get Crime and Punishment for .99. But there is that pesky matter of $359 plus an average cost of $9.99 per book. With the review of our retirement funds we had today, let's just say that cat food might be a better investment right now.