Thursday, September 02, 2010

Kindle Has Arrived

As I mentioned on Sunday, I pre-ordered a 3rd generation Kindle about a month ago.  It was delivered yesterday -- ahead of schedule!  I've had some time to play around with it, and so far I'm very pleased.  I'll post more about it over the weekend after I've had time to really put it through its paces (and when I don't have a quiz and an exam the following morning), but I wanted to take a few minutes to post my initial thoughts.

The device itself is incredibly light and very comfortable to hold.  If I'm holding just the Kindle (more about the cover below), I could probably read for hours without tiring.  Most hardcovers I read tend to be around 350 pages, and I can't say the same when I'm reading those.  I'm reading A Game of Thrones now (a whopping 704 pages for the hardcover, 831 for the paperback), and I can't imagine lugging around such a massive book in my bag all day.  It's also nice to be able to set the Kindle down for a moment and not worry about losing my place.  The size and feel of the Kindle are both excellent, and the text display is perfect.  It's VERY clear and easy on the eyes.  The E-ink display is perfect for text, although the display does occasionally look a little wonky when changing all screen elements.  That's a product of the technology, however, and given the quality of the text display and the battery life, I'm more than OK with the trade-off.

One complaint I do have, however, is the quality of some of the eBooks.  A Game of Thrones, for example, appears to have been OCR'd into eBook form, which is absolutely ridiculous.  OCR stands for Optical Character Recognition, a process whereby pages of a book are scanned and software analyzes the scanned image to generate a text file version of it.  A lot of pirated eBooks you find on the Internet are made this way, and you can tell because there are certain characters and words OCR will occasionally confuse, such as i and l, m and n, or Q and O.  This book is 14 years old, so to a degree I understand that it might be difficult to find an original text document for it, but this is still sub-par quality when I'm PAYING for it!  The book is still readable, but it's frustrating nonetheless.  I wouldn't expect this to be a common problem for most eBooks, but it is frustrating.  I don't regret the purchase, as even with the occasional errors it's still more convenient for me than the print version.  I submitted a complaint to Amazon customer service, so we'll see what they say about it.

What I said above about the comfort of holding the Kindle is absolutely true... for the Kindle.  The cover I got (Kindle Lighted Leather Cover, Black) is great too, but it does significantly add to the weight of the device (probably more than doubles the total weight).  The light works as expected, and provides plenty of illumination for the screen.  But I do occasionally take the Kindle out of the cover if I'll be reading a while and I know the extra weight of the cover will be less comfortable.  I'm confident I'll get used to the case and find more comfortable positions in which to read.  Realistically, holding the Kindle with the cover attached isn't much different than holding a book.  It's just feels heavier and more awkward after you've held just the Kindle by itself!

That's all I have for now.  I'm really enjoying the Kindle so far, despite my complaints above.  I want to get used to holding the Kindle with the cover attached, as it's a very nice (and expensive) cover, and I like the protection it provides.  As I said above, over the weekend I'll be sure to post more about the device and how the experience differs between the Kindle, Kindle for Android, and reading an actual book.  In the meantime, I have to study for a psychiatry quiz and a neuroanatomy exam.

**Update:  Amazon customer service replied to my feedback (within 3 hours!) and offered me a $10 credit on my next purchase, which is fair.  I'd prefer that they not have any OCR'd books in the Kindle store in the first place though.  Of course, I realize this is the fault of the publisher, in this case Bantam, who I hope is not this lazy with ALL of their books.  I wouldn't expect it to happen with any newer books in the last 5-10 years, but who knows.  I purchased a few other older books like Ender's Game, The Memory of Earth, and Seventh Son, so I'll see what kind of quality those are in when I get around to reading them.

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