Reading in the Digital Age

Knowledge is an advantage, and there is nothing like reading. I don’t read every day. Well, not reading books every day, I mean. But I am trying to read something meaningful on every occasion I can get. This desire of mine had me worried when the burden of student loans fell on me. Suddenly, I understood that it won’t be as easy as before to get on Amazon and order the books I wanted to read. Thank God, I got the Amazon Kindle 2 (no longer available, but check the new version) as a graduation present after completing my Masters. That was  5.5 months ago…

It is safe to say that I have already managed to pay off the Kindle by not paying for shipping cost and occasionally getting a cheaper deal on an ebook, instead of the printed version. It also adds to the satisfaction that I am not directly contributing to cutting yet another tree. But let me tell you why I like my Kindle:

  • It’s compact – I can virtually put it in my pocket. Well, the pocket should be rather big, I must admit.
  • The battery lasts forever – I can usually read a book or two before I have to recharge it.
  • It carries all the books I’ve read recently and the once I plan to read soon.  Which is a nice thing to have, especially when my DSLR and Mac make my backpack weigh a ton.
  • I get to buy books from the device at unimaginable places, provided there is a mobile network in place – The other day I was sitting at Frankfurt airport, and I felt bored. So I got a Stieg Larsson book and dug into it immediately.
  • And probably another 100 things that it will take forever to list here.

Amazon Kindle is a great toy. But as a toy, it also has its shortcomings:

  • Good user experience is ensured only for Amazon books. When you try to upload your own documents (in PDF mostly), it takes forever to read a single page. One has to zoom and scroll and on a small device like this one… well, as I said, it takes forever.
  • The usual “USA and the rest of the world”. Once in a while, a non-US resident will see the message “This book is not available in Europe”. Also, in most cases, one can not read blogs or subscribe to a newspaper to be delivered to the Kindle, unless physically present in the country that newspaper is published in.
  • You don’t get social media more than just sharing a link to the book’s passage on Twitter and Facebook. Imagine, if I can blog from the Kindle!

In the view of the iPad and tons of other devices competing with the Kindle, it will only make sense if Amazon does something outright courageous and offer more than just cutting the price. There are a couple of things that come to my mind:

  • If the internet costs you so much, at least give us an option to pay for it! And pack the device with features that will allow us to blog, see my aunt’s status update on Facebook or do background research corticosteroids!
  • Bulk up the memory, so I can have my docs and my music with me!
  • Create an app store and release that API! Some people love playing games, for example.
  • Link the different geographical domains you have or at least offer Kindle books that are in other languages! English is great, but I also would love to read  Hugo in French, Cervantes in Spanish, Dostoevski in Russian and why not Art of War in Mandarin.

Any of you, guys, reading on a handset? Anything to add to this post? Feel free to post a comment!

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Copyright © 2010 Borislav Kiprin. All Rights Reserved.