In the US last week, I got a chance to try out a Kindle (Amazon’s second generation ebook reader). This is an incredibly popular device and on various plane flights I was hardly alone using one. Given its low power, no one asked me to turn it off for take off and landing.
Others have said that when you have one you give up reading on paper. And I have to say that they are exactly right. It is a pleasure to read from and to carry. I read the entirity of Clay Shirky’s Here Comes Everybody (a fine read itself on any device) with no problems whatsoever. Indeed, I was able to buy the book in seconds using the wireless connectivity. I was also able to read it on my iPhone for comparison and it synced between the devices (where I was up to) seamlessly.
I tried out the web browsing function but it was rudimentary. And right at this moment, the audible book industry has nothing to fear from the text-to-speech function.
I must say that I was indifferent between the iPhone and the Kindle for reading books. The Kindle is more ‘page like’ but it is much nicer to swipe to change pages on the iPhone than to click on the Kindle. I think that a larger Apple device for reading would win the day. Let’s face it, the keyboard is taking up space on the Kindle and it is only occasionally useful. If you brought it to Australia, it would hardly be useful at all given that you couldn’t buy books here directly from the device or browse the net.
It is still a while before all books are purchased this way. Reference books, textbooks and picture books need larger screens and publisher envisioned layouts. But for just reading, the paper book, and with it brick and mortar bookstores, are doomed.
PS. Parentonomics will hopefully be released on the Kindle very soon. I recommend getting it there if you can rather than the printed version.