Sunday, July 31, 2011

Just like a choclolate milkshake...

I got myself a Kindle the other day. Its one of the reasons I haven't posted in a while. The other one is lack of sleep due to the new baby. Good times.

The promoters will tell you the kindle is just like reading a real book. They are almost right. The secret is in the screen. In a traditional electronic screen is composed of thousands of lights, different combinations of on and off make up the picture. The kindle screen is composed of thousands of dots that can be black or white, each time you turn the page the kindle reorganizes the dots. Readers use an external light source, just like a regular book. Because it only uses power to turn the page the battery lasts ages (but not as long as the advertisements would have you believe). There is a parallax effect, but its barely noticeable after the first couple of pages.

Now for the crunchy bits.

The kindle can hold literally hold thousands of books. Organisation quickly becomes an issue. Amazon could have solved this quite easily using a folder like structure, the one we all understand and love. Instead they developed there own system, which quite frankly does not work. Its lacks the simplicity of scanning a bookshelf. The Kindle itself is difficult to customise in any way. Not as much of a downside as you might think, most of my time is spent reading.

The cost of new eBooks varies widely, there are plenty of free 'classics', there are plenty of 0.99c books, but best sellers are often more expensive then the print version. Somewhere someone is making an extortionate amount of money. It costs almost nothing to create an eBook, after all you have to digitalise everything for the printers in the first place. Based on simple economics its a bad idea, especially when you consider you can't lend the books, or pass them on to a second hand dealer.

I'm not advocating the practice, but does it surprise anyone that you can find pirated versions of all the bestsellers?

There are some big advantages over a traditional book. Turning pages is a breeze. You can read one handed, which is great when rocking a baby on the other arm, you can even leave it reading sitting on a bench. Its small size is also a bonus.

At this stage I'd recommend the kindle. Its managed to keep most of the joys of reading, and eliminate some of the pains. They just need to find a way to duplicate the smell.

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