Five things I thought I’d hate about the Kindle
I bought a Kindle yesterday. A mere ten months after admitting (in issue 213 of PC Pro) that the concept had won me over, I’ve finally taken the plunge.
I realise I’m somewhat behind the times on this one. The hardware itself is now in its fifth generation. I very much doubt I can tell you anything about how it works that you don’t already know. In fact, my decision to invest was encouraged by several helpful PC Pro readers on Twitter sharing their own positive experiences of the device.
All the same, I was braced for some compromises. There were several things about the Kindle I had long expected to hate.
1. I thought I would hate the blocky text.
Until now I’ve been reading ebooks on a Nexus 7 with a display density of 216 PPI. The Kindle’s 167 PPI is a big step down from that, and I was expecting the switch to feel like a step backwards. If I’m honest though, I’ve found I rather like the very slightly chunky feel that text has on the Kindle. It has a certain retro charm, which seems appropriate for the traditional pastime of reading books.
2. I thought I would hate the page-turn effect.
When the Kindle first arrived in the UK, I thought the “black flash” of a new page must surely be a horrible distraction from your reading. In the event, I’ve found it works the other way round: being engaged with a good book distracts me from the screen redraw effect. I’ve all but stopped noticing it. It doesn’t hurt that today’s Kindles appear to redraw quite a bit more snappily than the original model.
3. I thought I would hate how limited the device is.
To be sure, the regular fifth-generation Kindle is very limited, compared to the 7-inch tablets it superficially resembles. There’s no keyboard, no touchscreen, no audio, no 3G, not much storage and zero in the way of apps.
I find myself much more focused on the book that’s in front of me
This however isn’t unequivocally bad news. It means I’m not keeping half an eye on my email and my Twitter timeline while reading, as I was with my Nexus 7. Nor am I tempted to pop out of my book periodically to check Reddit for new cats. I find myself much more focused on the book that’s in front of me, which is frankly probably a healthier way to be.
4. I thought I would hate paying real money for virtual property.
In practice, I’m finding it very hard to get upset about the sums involved, which seem mostly to come in around the five pound mark. Yes, physical books can be lent and resold, while ebooks can’t. But even if I were only permitted to read each ebook once, the price – in terms of pounds per hour of entertainment – would still compare very favourably to a trip to the cinema, or for that matter the pub.
As the co-owner of a modestly sized flat, I’m even coming to see the absence of a physical volume as a benefit, rather than a downside – as I discuss in issue 223 of PC Pro.
5. I thought I would hate buying into DRM and cloud storage.
And you know what? I sort of do. My hope is that, as Kindle rivals from the likes of Kobo and Barnes & Noble grow in popularity, we might see a gradual move away from DRM, and towards a primarily local library that I can import into whatever device I like. Apple did something similar with iTunes back in 2007, but of course that doesn’t guarantee it will happen in the ebook market.
For now I can console myself with how nice the device itself is – much nicer, clearly, than I’d expected. Besides, I actually have an atrocious track record when it comes to looking after my own data. Realistically speaking, my books are probably a lot safer sitting on the servers of a big bad corporation than they are filed away on a hard disk at home.