A lot of tweets over the last few days which are really asking the question “Why should I buy a kindle if I have a netbook or iphone”. As hard as I’ve tried to answer that question in 140 bytes at a time, I figured I’d go out there and post why I think it’s a good device, and (even though I didn’t have to pay for mine) why I think it’s worth the money if you have it.
I’ve been reading ebooks for a long time. To put this into perspective, I was using my Palm Pilot to read ebooks in 1999, so I have 10 years under my belt. As I think of it I’m sure I was reading some sort of ebook on my Apple ][ back in the late 80’s and early 90’s. If Kindle users are here for the birth of the industry, I was playing with stem cells. I give this history not to brag, but to show you I have a little history doing this.
First off, I’d like you to consider why the computer really hasn’t replaced the book yet. I think there are a number issues but I think there are a few killer ones. The book, until now is the most comfortable experience on the eyes. You can read a book indoors and outdoors. It’s easy to read it in cramped situations. The goal of an ebook is to clone that as well as possible.
The first major difference between reading on a Kindle and reading on a traditional device (laptop, netbook, iPhone) is the screen. E-Ink is a really cool technology (even though when you read up on it you realize it’s just a new-fangled etch-a-sketch) which not only maximizes battery life, but gives a rather clear test, which basically has the feel of a paperback book. Unlike LCDs I can read this screen in the outdoors (reading in a park or on the beach), or in average lighting. It has the same limitation as traditional books, I can’t read it the dark without an external light, but I’d rather that limitation then the inability to read when there’s too much light, because I can correct one and not the other.
I know I’m not alone in this, as a NYC resident I often am reading on the subway or the bus. From a space perspective it’s much easier to whip out a Kindle and read then it is to pull out a laptop or netbook. I don’t have to be sitting and Jeff Bezos is right, I can read with one hand convenient for the average strap hanger.
Of Course battery life is another issue. A laptop, Netbook, PDA or phone will get a few hours before it dies, a Kindle will get you a week or 2.
In closing these features make up for the lack of backlighting and a monochrome screen. If you’re looking for a platform to read books this is the way to go.