On eBook readers

In October last year I decided against buying a Kindle and ended up with a Sony Reader PRS-600. Immediately I realised I had a problem, it is almost impossible to legally acquire any form of literature. Kalahari.net started to sell eBooks using the Adobe Digital Editions DRM which in my experience is a pain in the arse. I have read over 20 books since purchasing using my Sony Reader, but have used it more to store a library of technical material for easy reference.

This week my Kindle 3 (WiFi edition) arrived which I have been impatiently waiting for since I pre-ordered it over 4 weeks ago, along with the awesome cover with the built-in reading light. I think the cover is necessary to protect is especially with me as I tend to drop things and the more expensive and fragile the more likely that will happen.

Amazon Store
Something that I have been using for a couple weeks already is the ability to send a chapter, sometimes it is a bit more, to my iPhone, PC and MacBook for free. This feature alone takes away the risk of buying a book you won’t like, or worse buy an electronic copy of one you have already read. Unlike a brick and mortar you cannot return the book. At the same time this feature is the biggest curse, they really make it easy to buy with one click.

The store on the Kindle itself is really simple and well laid out, although I seem to not know how to search. I have been doing my book searches using GoodReads instead and then using the link to Amazon. This may have something to do with the fact that some books are named one thing here in South Africa and something else in the USA.

Reading
Being a user of an electronic reader for the last year I did not expect the difference in device to be so great.

The Sony PRS-600 has a resistive film over the screen to allow for its touch interface. I should have bought the PRS-300 and not had to suffer from the reflective problem when reading in almost any lighting. I did get used to having it at the correct angle almost automatically but sometimes it was really hard to read. The difference between that experience and that with the Kindle is hard to believe.

The contrast on the Kindle is, subjectively, better than that of some of my mass paperbacks. The fact that I can read with a light directly pointing at the screen makes for more enjoyable reading. The screen refresh, which was fine on the Sony, is holy crap fast. I learnt to blink when turning pages which is probably a good thing, but I feel like I am wasting important reading time now when I blink and turn.

I am almost two books down, currently reading Luthiel’s Song and Silence of the Lambs, and have found myself being less tired than before on the Sony.

A part of Whispernet is syncing, i.e. sync between devices. I have not used it much yet, but I can see the use when for example you are in a long queue at the bank and you just fork out your iPhone open the Kindle app and start reading where you left off on your Kindle, then when you get home start reading from where you left off on your phone. That is just magic.

News Reading
Most people who have used eBooks know that the “only”
way to manage books is using Calibre, but I have discovered something even more useful. You can set it up to compile an eBook out of your RSS feeds, and then have it send it wirelessly to your Kindle automagically.

I have been using the browser for quick browsing in bed when something pops in my head. I used to have to turn on the laptop and by the time Chrome fired up I had no idea why I was sitting at my desk anymore.

Compatibility
Here is where the Kindle almost falls short, I have quite a lot of ePub files that they do not support at all. But yet again Calibre to the rescue, you can convert almost anything to almost any eBook format.

The Kindle officially supports documents in AZW, PDF, Word (DOCX is experimental), HTML, TXT, MOBI and PRC; and graphics in GIF, JPEG, PNG and BMP.

To convert files for free send to your Kindle email address [email protected] with subject of Convert. If you do not mind the US$1 per MB to convert (US$.10 in US) to [email protected] The difference between the free.amazon.com and the other is that the free conversion is only done over WiFi.

Untested features
Something I have not tested yet is
battery life – so far it looks to be good, I received it at half charge and it seems to still be in the same place. Charging it tonight for a long-term run with WiFi and using the reading light when I can. What is really unfortunate is the lack of compatible charger for us in South Africa, and living in Secunda I cannot find an adapter anywhere (what a sh!th0le).

I have also not really played with the “research” feature that tout lookup on Wikipedia, but the dictionary works great. First thing I did of course is change the language to real english not Yanky 😛

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