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Kindle acquired

Books + Ideas, Technology — February 2012

I got a Kindle for my birthday. Thanks to Camilla for the actual object, and various people for helping me decide I wanted one - Sean, Tridge, Sophia, Simon, Liz, etc. I opted for the new Kindle, sans keyboard, as I can't envisage using such a dinky keyboard for anything serious and the 3G might have been nice for emergency use but again not a replacement for a real computer or even a smartphone.

Having now used the Kindle on a six week trip, including a week in Thailand, I am enamoured of it for travelling. For a long plane flight and a holiday in a non-English-speaking country, I'd once have carried six or more books and had to rely on some luck finding new books while travelling. With the Kindle, this is simply not a concern. (Though I did always carry one printed book with me, just in case the Kindle stopped working or was stolen.)

My Kindle is kept slaved to the Calibre library on my desktop, with the "Kindle Collections" plugin so I can keep documents in collections. I have registered the Kindle, but using a brand new Amazon account with no payment information attached to it, so if I need to I can email documents to it but I know I'm never going to get any bills for doing that. That's also a barrier against any temptation to buy Kindle items.

I have over a hundred books on the device already. Most of those are novels and other classics downloaded from ebooks@Adelaide (one of many such repositories). I've also started getting review copies from publishers in PDF and ebook format - not as much fun as getting boks in the post, but some small publishers have baulked at postage in the past. And if I own print copies of titles (in the 60 boxes under my mother's house) I don't feel bad about torrenting de-DRMed copies of them.

Comments on having the smaller Kindle:
* I don't really miss the keyboard - once I got my 128 bit WPA2 wireless key onto the device!
* the battery life is fine, even travelling to Australia and back.

My biggest beef is a simple problem with the user interface: the Kindle remembers where you're up to for each book, but doesn't remember the device orientation. I read most ebooks in portrait mode, since that's how the device was designed to be used. But PDFs are mostly too small to read with that orientation (where the Kindle has "fit to page" as an option but not "fit to width"), so I read them in landscape mode (where the Kindle does "fit to width"). But I have to manually switch orientations everytime I move from a PDF book to a mobi one.

In that vein, multi-column PDFs really don't work well at all. I've tried a few scientific papers and it's just too painful.

Just in case anyone's worried, I've bought a pile of print books since acquiring the Kindle.


  1. I recall you were reading your first ebook some months ago, I assumed you'd have bought a kindle quick smart.

    You also had me confused,your birthday is in June, therefore, you have had your pressie
    a good nine months. It is not a recent happening.

    Comment by DL — February 2012
  2. I don't know what people are talking about when they say ebooks will replace the printed ones. Nothing, but nothing, can replace the thrill of handling a book, especially the beautifully designed hardbacks that modern printing technology is producing. Kindles are extras. I haven't touched mine since I got back from my travels and finished the 700+ tomes I had on it (Pakistan and the Biography of Jerusalem). (Actually, I think people shouldn't be allowed to write books that are longer than 300 pages - it's not fair to the competition to claim so much time for your book!) Oh, and it's so important to be able to lend/share books with friends, and to recycle the ones one doesn't want to keep to one of those friendly second-hand bookshops for someone else to enjoy.

    Your friend DL should be told about when your birthday really is, by the way, in case she wants to send you a card.

    Comment by Gabi Duigu — February 2012
  3. Yes, my birthday is only in June for Americans!

    I'm stilling buying and reading printed books, but the Kindle sure makes travelling easier.

    Comment by danny — February 2012
  4. Multi-column PDFs are a pain to read even on a full-sized laptop, they really are only for print.

    The PDF idea of a rigid format and control of content that can be displayed on anything may solve one problem but these days it often just makes things unreadable. In a world of tablets and phones PDFs are not very useful.

    Comment by David Watford — February 2012
  5. But the world of tablet and phone apps is also one of rigid format and control of content! it's much easier to restrict how a document is viewed in a controlled iOS or Android environment than on a general purpose computer.

    PDFs work fine on a 10" tablet and might be ok on the larger Kindle. It's just the size constraint that makes them awkward on a normal Kindle (or a smart phone).

    Comment by danny — February 2012
  6. Danny is not going to get a birthday card and or pressie from me anytime soon. No,I am not unsociable or weird, I just don't believe in them. In return, I don't expect them from anyone. If I do want to give, I do it the most practical and direct way.

    Back to books and kindles, I am an ultra slow reader, and I stick to books. ( I don't possess the knowhow to fiddle with an ebook.)At present, I am reading The Concubine's Children by the Canadian author Denise Chong for the second time. It is only a small volume but a very moving story of a very ordinary family.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Denise_Chong , It is very satisfying curling up with a good book on a damp, cool summer's day in Sydney. I don't know what it is like with a kindle. Someone please tell me.

    Comment by DL — February 2012

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