eReading and the Kindle 3
As an avid reader and a gadget fan I have a long term interest in ebooks. My first ebooks came from the ebookstore peanutpress.com and were read on the Philips Nino PDA in terrible grayscale! Peanutpress.com is now ereader.com and has been bought by Barnes and Noble. I still have an extensive library of over 100 novels with them and software readers are available for the iPhone and iPad as well as several other devices.
An alternative to peanutpress.com in the early years of the noughties was mobipocket.com. I tended to avoid mobipocket because they were more strict with overseas licensing and frankly, more expensive. Mobipocket were eventually bought out by Amazon and a modified form of their DRM (Digital Rights Management) file format was used for the Amazon Kindle.
The Amazon Kindle which launched in November 2007 sold out its initial production run in two and a half hours! It was not the first ebook reader based on e-ink technology – Sony launched its first model in 2006 – but the Kindle soon came to dominate the market.
All Kindle devices have been characterised by ease of use and free access to Amazon’s Whispernet 3G data service. This allows for the bookstore to be browsed and for books to be purchased and downloaded anywhere a mobile signal could be had. In late 2009 the second generation Kindle and Whispernet were made available Internationally. Global book licensing issues remain annoying – but can be circumvented fairly easily if you so choose. Regardless – an extensive library is available.
In hindsight 2010 may be the year that marks the beginning of the end for the printed novel. I don’t think books will be going anywhere in a hurry – there remains an emotional experience in the opening of a nicely presented book – but for “pulp fiction” and perhaps textbooks, digital is the way to go
Amazon have really opened up the Kindle platform this year with software available for iPhone, iPad, Android, Blackberry, Mac and PC as well as new models of their Kindle and Kindle DX readers. The new models have more memory, WiFi (plus or minus 3G) and a fabulous new screen. This new screen boasts a 50% improvement in the contrast ratio and it really shows – it is much better to read even in lower light. Amazon also set a nifty leather case to go with the Kindle which has a built in LED reading light – powered from the Kindle itself
Experience wise, I find myself using the Kindle for novels. It lends itself well to linear reading and is easier on the eye. Evidence also suggests that putting a backlit screen in front of your face at night interferes with sleep. For textbooks and manuals – or anything with pictures – I use the Kindle app on the iPad. The colour and increased screen size make it more usable. Im still not 100% sold on e-textbooks – it is nice to have the real thing in front of you – but the cost savings can be substantial.
In summary – if you are investigating ebook readers the Kindle 3 seems to be the way to go. They have come down in cost considerably, are high quality and have a great catalogue of content. As a bonus, a plethora of companion software allows you to consume your content on other devices you may own – and Whispersync keeps your bookmarks consistent across all of them.
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