Monday, February 21, 2011

Kindle - Even Better Than I Thought

A few weeks back announced that they were now selling more eBooks than all hardback and paperback versions combined. It was only about a year ago that they announced that eBook sales had surpassed the Amazon hardback sales. This meteoric spike in sales is due in large part to the sale of eBook readers. The Kindle from Amazon, as well as others like the Nook and the Sony Reader, are some of the most popular new digital must-haves. The iPad and other tablet computers can be used as eBook readers as can many smart phones.

My thoughtful wife placed a Kindle under the tree for me on Christmas morning and I have not put it down since. It is one of the most user friendly and well designed digital devices I have ever used. Part of the reason is that it is designed for one thing and one thing alone and that is to read eBooks.

The version I have is about the size of a paperback book but much thinner, less than ½ inch. It weighs only a few ounces. The display uses eInk rather than the traditional LCD screens found on the iPad, most laptop computers and smart phones. An eInk page looks just like a printed page and can be read in bright sunlight. The only down side is that it can’t be read in the dark. My aging eyes appreciate not reading from the bright back-lighted computer screen. eInk also is the secret behind the battery life of several weeks between charging.

Searching for and downloading a book is quick and intuitive. When you first turn it on, the Kindle takes you through a simple set up. If you already have an account with it links that information to your Kindle account. It took me less than five minutes to set it up and download my first book, Autobiography of Mark Twain. While I have not tried this, Amazon claims that the device can hold as many as 3000 or more books.

Purchasing a book is a breeze. The Kindle has a menu item called “Shop in Kindle Store.” The Kindle connects to Amazon either through a WiFi or 3G service. From there you can search by title, author or genre just like the regular online store. Once you find the book, pressing “Buy” is all you need do. The book is downloaded to the Kindle, in most cases in about 30 seconds, and your Amazon account is billed. You will get an email verifying the purchase. So in less than a minute you can have most any book in publication in your hands.

When you buy a book it is downloaded into you Kindle but is also available for free downloading in the future in case your device malfunctions or you exceed the 3000 book internal capacity. Most eBooks from Amazon are $9.00 or less. Books out of copyright are free.

For the avid reader, the Kindle is an exceptional digital device. It is inexpensive, well designed and it works.

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