Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Kindle Comes To Spain

For Kings Day I bought myself a Kindle from Amazon.  Ordering it from the states was a breeze, it took less than a week to arrive and the amount included all the taxes, duties and so forth so all I had to do was sign for it.

I really enjoy the feel. Not too light, but not too heavy, it made the transition from physical to e-book quite seamless. The screen is soft on the eyes, if just a tad small for my liking, but not so much it interferes with the reading experience; my thumbs are happy that they no longer need to hold pages and a book open while I read in bed. The ability to connect through 3G has been surprisingly reliable and there are only some places around the Marina district where it can't get service. Meanwhile, the battery lasts surprisingly long if you turn off the wi-fi, but like most electronic gadgets we'll see if this is the case in a year or two.

My first day was pretty much spent checking the Kindle store for titles and seeing what was available. The results of my queries tended to be less relevant after the first page. I was also surprised how few books have been converted to an electronic version and the discrepancy between Europe and the US in terms of number of titles. I suppose this lag is to be expected since it only recently hit the local market and there was still plenty to choose from.  In fact, never has buying a book been so easy, literally a touch of a button and voilà - there it is on the screen and ready to be read.

After using it for a month now, I do find myself already wanting improvements, however. Mostly, they're cosmetic. I'd personally like to see the bookmark feature made easier and the option available directly on the tablet rather than click and scroll. Also, it'd be nice if the bookmarks automatically deleted as you read rather than become long lists in the notes section. Finally, moving the previous and next page tabs higher wouldn't be a bad idea. But, as I said, these are small and personal touches. I suppose a lot has to do with the size of your hands and how often you stop and start when you read.

So to Kindle or not to Kindle? That is the question. Well, I haven't used any other e-readers so if anyone could offer their thoughts that'd be great.  The person in charge of e-books at my publisher said her biggest gripe with the Kindle was the fact that it was a proprietary and a locked software and not open source like the Sony e-reader, making it a pain to format, which might explain the latency between the conversion of many books from hard to electronic. All in all, though, I'm happy with the purchase. There's no longer a question of space to store books and best of all no more exorbitant shipping costs!

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