Kindling my interest

You may well have noticed that Amazon have just announced the latest version of their Kindle e-book reader… and in true “me fashion”, I am only now turning my attention to the product line after all this time 🙂

Much as I am fond of gadgets and mobile technology, I have never been the type to show an interest in a device just because it is “flavour of the month”—I have to see The Point Of It, at least as far as it applies to me.

To be fair, I have often thought about what uses I could put the Kindle to, and can think of a few. Ironically, given my English-degree background, I don’t think I’d be reading many novels on the device if I owned one (although the option would be welcome). I suspect I’d want a Kindle for the likes of

  • e-newspapers and e-magazines;
  • a Bible;
  • non-fiction books; and
  • computer reference books and documentation.

On the latter point, I could imagine myself buying a few O’Reilly Linux reference e-tomes, not least as they take up a fair amount of space in paper form. Moreover, the idea of a daily edition of a newspaper “landing” on my Kindle each morning, holds a certain appeal, though I think I’d have to take the bus to work a bit more to find the reading time!

There are arguably as many items in the “hang on” column for me, however, where the Kindle is concerned. For one, I’m not really interested in the new model, as I’d prefer a hardware QWERTY keyboard—that leaves the older Kindle, which has been retained and renamed the Kindle Keyboard. Unfortunately, the cheaper WiFi-only version has been dropped from the range, leaving the 3G-enabled model to adopt the new name, at the same price as before (£149), which puts it out of my intended range. (Amazon is currently selling a limited number of refurbished Kindles, including the WiFi-only Kindle Keyboard model, so that could be an option.)

I’m also wary of how closely the Kindle is tied to Amazon—not because I distrust them particularly, but I have an innate wariness of a device which would be more or less useless without a third-party service feeding content to it. The purported idea that Amazon could delete publications from my Kindle at will (even if they never actually exercise this capability, or have stated that they will not do so) is unsettling, as is the concept (if I understand it correctly) that one doesn’t actually “own” any e-books that one buys for the Kindle—merely the right to access it.

I haven’t resolved all this in my mind, though I suspect the benefits of a Kindle would ultimately outweigh the concerns for me. Whether I would then want to actually buy a Kindle, is another matter entirely, but for the first time I wouldn’t rule out the possibility.

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