I’m quite happy with my Kindle electronic book from On my long trip to China, I managed to cut down on the number of books I usually carry with myself by taking it. I had the full text of Locke’s Two Treatises of Government, the writings of James Madison, The Federalist Papers, Hume’s A Treatise of Human Nature, and other works for reference (they were helpful for my lectures) and I got through a good bit of Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War, some poetry, and (I’m a little ashamed to admit) a couple of trashy novels (I had a lot of the plane and train travel within China, and long flights to and from).

I was not able to access my newspaper subscriptions while in China (I get the Washington Post, the New York Times, and the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung), but I managed to access them as soon as I touched down in the US and read them in the long line at immigration.

I’d say that the device is great for books you want to read, but not necessarily to study. It’s possible to make notes, but not as easy as writing in the margin of a corporeal book. If you want to study a book, you definitely need a corporeal book, but an electronic copy won’t hurt.

P.S. It’s not backlit, which is why the battery lasts a long time (but should be regularly recharged), so you’ll definitely want to buy a reading light with it. This one is quite good, uses LEDs, and the batteries will last for a loooonnnng time.

3 Responses to “Kindled”

  1. Do they let you put on your own eBooks (or rather, any random PDF or HTML file), or only the ones you buy from Amazon? It seems that with your tastes in reading, you could get a long way by just putting the Liberty Fund editions on the thing. If it doesn’t let you put on files of your own, I would consider that a major drawback, mostly for a reason that’s probably not explicable to non-engineers: I really hate it when devices cannot do something and you know the designers had to go out of their way to make it unable to do that thing.

  2. Jaap,

    While I agree that designers going out of their way to make things less usable is distasteful, in this case I don’t think that’s happening.

    Kindle normally downloads content over the air, using the digital cell phone network (Amazon pays any usage fees for content you purchase from them). Given this content downloading mechanism, being able to put your own content on your device would require extra work.

    That said, they do provide such a mechanism, by giving each Kindle a unique email address. And they added a USB connection as well, but using it still requires going through a conversion process they manage. See the “Personal Files” section of the Kindle page Tom linked to in his first sentence (about 2/3rds of the way down the very long page – or search for USB.) So in this case, it seems the engineers went out of their way to provide a feature that has no on-going economic benefit to Amazon.

    Tom, the Kindle page says: “If you are out of wireless coverage, such as traveling overseas, you can download books to your computer from Your Media Library and transfer via USB to your Kindle.” Does that not apply to newspapers?

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