Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Review: Amazon Kindle

I have been using the kindle software on my mac for just under a year now (to be clear, I do not have a kindle reading device). I live in a place that has a very, very limited library system (1 room with 4 shelves of books, mostly second-hand trashy romance novels from the states) and no book stores.  Sadly, books are often the first to get chucked from my luggage when the weight limit is reached.  So when the kindle software was made available for mac, I was ecstatic.  Thousands of books, at my fingertips!  I’ve definitely used the program a lot… just not for downloading the thousands of books I had envisioned.

I initially thought I might have a problem with reading a book on my computer.  While it’s not as nice as curling up with a book and turning actual pages, reading on a computer definitely is not a distraction.  I quickly adapted to turning pages with a click.  I initially would get slightly headachy after reading a screen for a while, but I don’t notice that much any more. 

The hugest downfall, though, is the price of books.  Electronic books have not been significantly discounted, which I find unfair and mostly greedy.  Obviously is it not costing as much to produce the electric version.  I have a hard time paying $10 for a file that will sit on my computer.  Plus, I normally bought used books.  Although you can often get used print versions of older books for a few dollars, the kindle price tends to stay high.  I was also having a problem with the inability to flip through a book and preview it before I bought.  If I’m going to pay $10 for a book, I don’t want to discover after a chapter that I can’t stand the writing style.  Amazon has offered previews of the first few pages of a book for a while, which I found inadequate.  A few days ago, however, they debuted a new feature which allows you to download the first whole chapter of a book on your kindle for free.  I love this.

So, in summary- I would recommend anyone get the free software, if only for the fact that you can download the first chapters of books for a free preview.  (On a side note: yes, you can get free books for the kindle—but besides a decent amount of classics printed before the 1920’s or so, they tend to be exceptionally worthless reads.)  I tend to buy one book every couple of months, and it really is cool to have a whole book appear on my computer literally in seconds.  As for the actual reading device, I don’t really see the point in spending money for it, especially because you can get the free software for your iphones and such.  

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