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July 14, 2008


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Oh my God, I am in love with my Kindle. First example: I was dying to read Ken Follett's World Without End, the follow-up to one of my all-time favorite books (Pillars of the Earth). It's over 1,000 pages and the PAPERBACK cost $35 at the bookstore. I thought it would be fun to read it while I was in Europe for two weeks (esp. because it takes place there), but I didn't want to spend all that money on a paperback or lug that huge thing around. I ended up getting the Kindle and bought it on there. The book was only $9.99 on there, which saved me a ton of money, and it downloaded in just a few minutes, and it's on a teeny tiny device. I brought my Kindle with me to Europe and I was able to easily carry it with me everywhere and read it everywhere from a restaurant to a train to a park. It's so small and portable, and stores up to 200 books on it!

Here's the other great thing. Only the best sellers are $9.99. Books that have been around longer are cheaper. And things that are in public domain (almost all the classics) are free. Many sites such as Gutenburg project have them for free. A REALLY great recent find of mine: If you go to their mobile site directly from your Kindle (in the basic web) which is, you can actually download those books directly from the site to your Kindle, for free. There were a bunch of classics I always meant to read, such as Little Women and some Jane Austen books, and downloaded them all totally free.

The basic Web program is a little cumbersome, but very handy. I don't have an iphone or Blackberry, so every once a while I'm stranded without Internet, and I can check my Gmail on the Kindle or read the headlines. The wireless network is included in the cost of your upfront purchase, which I think is great. It doesn't work outside of the US, but as long as you load up your Kindle with plenty of books, you won't need to worry about that.

Also, Newsweek and Time subscriptions are $1.49 a month! A Wall Street Journal subscription is only $9.99. If you are a big reader like me, the Kindle really is a money saver.

While it may take a while to make up for the large up-front cost, if you are an avid reader like me, the Kindle really will save you money, especially if you are a reader of the classics, since those are free. Whenever I travel, I used to lug a bunch of heavy books along with me. Now they are all in one tiny, handy device. It's so small, even in it's case, I usually always leave it in my purse. That way if I'm stuck in a doctor's office waiting room or at a restaurant waiting for a late friend, I can just whip it up and get immersed in my book.

The ONLY thing I'm not wild about is the fact that the buttons to turn pages are on both sides of the device, so you have to hold it carefully to make sure not to accidentally turn a page. One minor thing -- using the wireless internet drains the battery quickly, so you should only leave it on when you're actively using it. Otherwise, keep it off, and the battery will last a really long time. I had it on a two-week Europe trip and read constantly, and only had to recharge it once.

I am a huge Kindle fan and totally recommend it! I just showed it off to a coworker the other day and he has already bought one -- one thing that really excited him about it is the environmental effect -- it will save a lot of paper.

I don't own a Kindle, but I do have a Sony eBook Reader. I like having the ability to carry more than one book at a time in the reader, and the ease with which I can purchase new books without having to actually go the bookstore is amazing.

I chose Sony over Kindle for two reasons, though:
1) The price. Yes, you can recoup the costs of the Kindle over the period of a year or two through savings on books, but it's still a large up-front expense. My Sony cost considerably less and I get eBooks for the same price! The time it took to recoup the purchase price was a matter of a few months, not a year.

2) The size. The Kindle is a bit large and bulky, not very convenient for me. My Sony is about the same size as a thin paperback book and even lighter. It's easy to carry around and, with the smooth leather cover, doesn't attract too much "oh you have one of THOSE" glances from other people on the bus.

Unfortunately, I didn't know about Kindle's wireless capabilities before I made my purchase decision. It definitely would have made a difference to me, but I can't say whether or not it would have changed my mind.

It's interesting to hear people say how much they love their readers. The kindle is not something I would ever have even considered being worth the money. If it's that good, maybe I should take a closer look.

My husband also has a Sony e-book reader and he loves it. He has downloaded hundreds of free books and takes it everywhere with him. What I really like about it is the fact the two of us can read different books, each bookmark his own page and come right back to it. Also, we can change the size of the text so he can use a little larger text than I require. Since we are both voracious readers, it's great when we travel. I would definitely recommend this to anyone who likes to read. There are many websites where you can get free books in the right format for downloading onto the reader.

The analysis is a bit misleading. I have a Sony Reader and while I like it a lot, it would be very difficult to recoup the cost (I got it free as a rewards program offer).

First, when you buy a book for the Kindle, you aren't really buying the book. You are simply buying the right to read the book on the Kindle. When you buy a physical book, you can read the book, loan it to someone else, give it away, donate it to the library, resell it, etc. You are losing a lot of capability for the savings in price.

Furthermore, you can't buy a used Kindle book. With Amazon or a used book store, it is very easy to find books--even recent books--at a very steep discount to the new cost.

People need to understand that they are paying for convenience--not saving money. If you do save any money it is because you are getting a significantly lesser product than a physical book.

The place where ebook readers can really shine is in public domain works that cost nothing. You can download an entire library at no cost and carry it with you. Still you are paying extra fo convenience. The cost of a digital reader would easily buy more classics in paperback than you will be able to read in any reasonable amount of time.

@Mark: I read somewhere recently that Amazon is considering letting people "rent" books on the Kindle, like an electronic library. While it may sound crazy, Apple has started letting people "rent" movies through iTunes. When you activate the movie, you have 24 hours to watch it, then it disappears from your machine. Amazon could do the same thing with books, where you only have it on your device for a month (or some other time period - maybe you pay a little longer to have it longer?) but pay a very small amount. I think there's a lot of possibility for that.

For me, the convenience of having all my books on one tiny device and not even having to use a cord (which the Sony does) is totally worth it -- especially as someone who likes to travel. And almost all other portable devices that have internet access charge a monthly fee -- you have to take into account that the Kindle does not do that, which is why the up-front fee is a little heftier.

Has anyone tried accessing Google Maps or any other maps website on the kindle? If that works, I am buying it :-)

Answering my own question:

This is cool!

I'm a bit late on this conversation, but thought I'd throw my .02 in too.

I own a Treo Smartphone. It's my primary phone and it goes with me everywhere. You can download a free reading program called eReader ( and install it on your PDA. Free is good, right?

Then like others have said, you can get free classic books online or purchase deeply discounted ebooks from any number of websites (including eReader).

No up front investment. No additional device to lug around. And it works great with any file I've ever loaded for it. I go through spurts when I read on my PDA a lot and then I can go several months without reading anything. So I don't feel guilty for having a $365 device going unused if I don't feel like reading a book at the moment.

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