Me and the Kindle

In his comment to my most recent post about a doctor’s office visit and the demise of my Kindle E-reader Naturgesetz asked some questions about E-readers, specifically the Kindle.  Rather than responding in the Comments section I’ve decided to make the Kindle the subject of a separate post, in which I will address the questions.  This is great because I have been having such difficulty trying to come up with things to post about.

I took the images below from the Net a Google Image search.  I hope the copy write police don’t come to carry me off!  😕

I purchased my first Kindle, a Kindle-2, in December 2008.  I used that version for two years, obtaining their latest “New and Improved” version in December 2010.  I wanted the new version because of its higher contrast, easier to use controls, and capability to use both Wi-Fi and 3G.  I gave the old one to a relative who re-registered it with Amazon – and to my knowledge it is still in use.

I mentioned in my post that the Kindle had occasionally misbehaved.  That is true of both of my Kindles.  About two or three times a year a slight glitch would appear – a control or controlsKindle would suddenly stop functioning or would function improperly.  But in each case the problem was corrected immediately by simply  holding the On/Off button for about 15 seconds, which triggered a reset process.  This is similar to what is done when computer software malfunctions an Uninstall/Reinstall is required – except that it is much quicker.

I don’t know what caused my Kindle to crash and die last Tuesday.  I was functioning properly as little as two hours before.  I had anticipated continued reliable performance for several more years.  I had a strange thought, just yesterday, that my Kindle may have been zapped by improperly shielded X-Ray equipment in the professional medical building, or demagnetized by being exposed to MRI equipment in operation nearby.  I suppose that is a real reach, but the fact is that it happened suddenly at that time, at that place.  It is so unusual that this happened to a durable and reliable product that had not been misused.

The Kindle E-reader is capable of storing as many as 1,500 books, somewhat less if many of the books contain graphics.  But actually that is of no significance, because Amazon stores every book one downloads in their files for however long forever is, in our or their reality, even free books.  I’ve never kept more than 10 to 15  books on my device – ones I am currently reading, those I’ve downloaded but not yet started, and a few reference books.  Almost always, when I finish a book I “Archive ” it – which is really a misnomer, because Amazon has already archived it at the time of download.  All I’ve done is remove it for my device.  Any book that has been removed from the device can be immediately retrieved merely by selecting “Archives” on the opening screen, whereupon all your books are listed, and you need only to click on the title.

Because Amazon has everything on file there is no need to transfer books to a replacement Kindle.  The file is associated to an individual’s account and is accessible by to all devices that the individual has registered to that account.  That includes smart phones, tablets and PCs with Kindle Apps installed.

The person to whom I gave my first Kindle had access to all the books which I had still physically stored in the device at the time I gave it to her.  She had to register it to her account.

I prefer hard copy books, and I continue to buy more of them than Kindle books.  In four and a half years I have only 149 Kindle books.  I’ve used my Kindles primarily as a restaurant and travel reader.  When I’m really “into” a particular book on my Kindle I will also use it at home.

There are so many great features of the Kindle that would recommend it to anyone who enjoys reading.

  • Cost is probably the best feature.  You can buy even the most expensive current best sellers at a significant discount.  Plus there are hundreds of thousands of books available at $3.99 or less, including hundreds of thousands of free books – including the great classics.
  • Amazon has millions of books available for download which you can search by genre.  Amazon also recommends specific books which are related to the kinds of books you have downloaded.  They also have daily specials.
  • The books are delivered too your device instantaneously.
  • You get so much more information about a book you are considering buying than you can get at a bookstore or from a book review in a newspaper.  You get a description of the book, multiple reviews both by other readers and professional reviewers.  You can even download a sample at no cost – usually the first chapter or first ten pages – which is a major help in deciding to buy or not.
  • The controls are easy to learn and use.  The contrast and background of the screen are excellent.
  • There are many features that enhance the reading experience.  You can change the font size which is great if you have difficulty with small print.  You can bookmark pages and make notes.  The device always remembers the furthest page you had read and will open to that location.  You can sync all your devices to the latest page read, so you can easily go from the device to your smart phone, then your PC and pick up right where you left off.
  • There are great reference features.  If you don’t understand a word you can highlight it and you receive the dictionary definition.  You can search at any time for every instance a name, place or other word appears in the book and will receive a listing of all the occurrences – each with the location and enough of the surrounding sentence to give some context.  This is great if characters suddenly reappear in the text and you don’t remember them or how they fit into the plot.
  • When you have completed reading a book there is a link to Amazon’s site and submit your own book review which will appear in their location offering the book for sale.
  • You can also purchase subscriptions of newspapers and magazines from around the world.

The Kindle Fire 8-Inch HD which I just purchased is much more than an E-reader.  It is a tablet similar Kindle Fire to the I-Pad, Nexis and others – although lacking some of the others’ APP and Net power and sophistication.  But I can also watch thousands of movies and TV programs in 1080p, as well as play games, take photos, and store pictures, videos, music and documents on the device and/or in Amazon;s “Cloud”.  The clarity of video and the quality of the sound is fantastic. Amazon has a deal which I’ve opted for in which for about $80 a year I can watch unlimited movies and TV shows free, plus borrow any one book free each month.  It also switches from portrait to landscape mode however you turn it.  It obviously cost much more than a regular Kindle E-reader but I’m sure it will be well worth it!

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