Kindle 2 is kind of cool, actually

I’m not going to gush about how I fell in love with the device, because I didn’t.

My library (as in, the library where I work) has the good fortune of being blessed with both funds and leadership that allow us to experiment with some emerging technologies. When Amazon released the first version of the Kindle, we purchased one to experiment with. It was simply the latest in a long history of ebook readers that we had hoped to be able to incorporate into the library’s function on campus.

I took a turn at using the Kindle, and I was mightily unimpressed. The interface seemed very clunky, to the point of preventing me from getting into the book I tried to read. When the Kindle 2 was released and we received permission to purchase one, I was skeptical that it would be any better, but I still signed up for my turn at using it.

Last week, I was given the Kindle 2, and since it already had a book on it that I was half-way through reading, I figured I would start there. However, I was not highly motivated to make the time for it. Yesterday afternoon, I took the train up to DC, returning this morning. Four hours round trip, plus the extra time spent waiting at each station, gave me plenty of time to finish my book, so I brought the Kindle 2 with me.

I’m not going to gush about how I fell in love with the device, because I didn’t. However, I finished the book with ease before I arrived in DC, and out of shear boredom I pulled down a copy of another book that was already purchased on our library account. I was pleasantly surprised by how easy it was to go from one book to another without having to lug along several selections from my library “just in case” I ran out of something to read.

Right now, I’m at least a third of the way in on the second book, and I plan to finish reading it on the Kindle 2.

I don’t think I’ll end up buying one anytime soon, particularly since I’ve put a stop to buying new books until I’ve read more of the ones I own. However, I have a better understanding of those Kindle enthusiasts who rave about having their entire library (and more) at their fingertips. It’s pretty handy if you’re someone who often has time to kill away from your library.

5 thoughts on “Kindle 2 is kind of cool, actually”

  1. I’m not a Luddite, but I can’t see myself buying a Kindle. Besides the price (I’m a cheapskate!), I’m not a big fan of e-books. I know it may seem weird, but I only like to do certain kinds of reading on electronic devices. To me, blogs and websites belong on screens, while novels belong on paper. I also don’t mind magazine sites if they are laid out properly, like Knitty.

  2. I have my entire library at my fingertips, only it’s on my smartphone.

    In any case, they had wonderful discussion of the relative merits of a Kindle vs. SmartPhone (in this case, an iPhone) on NPR’s “On the Media” this week:

    http://www.onthemedia.org/transcripts/2009/06/19/08

    The person doing the evaluation simply ripped apart all the cliches associated with the Kindle (easier to read, worth lugging around, etc.)

  3. Leo: When I was looking at getting a new, smarter phone, I considered the iPhone or Blackberry, but I went with something “less smart” but with a full keyboard that doesn’t have the interface issues I’ve seen with touch-screen phones. I would rather poke my eyes out than try to read a book on the small screen of my phone, but I was rather impressed with the interface on the iPhone/iTouch I played with the other week.

  4. I’ve got a keyboard on mine as well and don’t consider it less ‘smart’. I think people are gradually going to trade up to slightly bigger reading devices which will look and, more importantly, function much like our current smartphones. If they want something bigger, they’ll go for so-cheap-they’re-practically-free netbooks.

    It’s hard to see where a device like the Kindle, with such limited functionality, fits in.

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