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Joe DeRouen, Author of the Small Things trilogy: 2009-08-30

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

My Kindle and Me

I purchased a Kindle 2 from a little over a month ago, and I love it. I wasn't sure I would. I mean, I love books - I like how they feel in your hand, I enjoy the smell, delight in turning the pages. Guess what? Other than the smell, the Kindle duplicates these things just about perfectly. So much, in fact, that I often forget I'm reading it, and scan the room for my bookmark when I want to put my book down.

In the month that I've had my Kindle, I've used it to read five novels, a novella, and countless blogs and newsletters. And if you stop in the middle of a newsletter, say, and decide to start reading a novel, and then go back to the newsletter later, you pick up exactly where you left off. Multiple bookmarks, just like with "real" books!

And, yes, you quickly get used to turning pages via a button. I know it's hard to believe now, but by halfway through Stephen King's novella UR, it had become almost second nature to press that "next page" button. And one of the nicer things about the Kindle is that, if you want to find a piece of information you remember reading earlier in the book, it's only a text search away!

The Kindle 2 runs $299 and the Kindle DX, it's larger cousin, (10.4" x 7.2" x 0.38" vs. 8" x 5.3" x 0.36") costs $489. I almost bought the DX. but in the end couldn't really justify the cost difference, especially when you consider that the price difference ($190) can buy a lot of eBooks! And though I occasionally wish I'd sprung for the bigger Kindle - magazines and graphic novels, while readable on the K2, would certainly be much more readable on the DX - I'm overall happy with my decision. If nothing else, when they eventually come out with the Kindle Color (or maybe Kindle Kolor - geez, I hope not!) I'll only be replacing a $300 device, and not a $500 one.

For those who don't know, the K2 holds approximately 1,500 eBooks. That's a lot of reading material, and at this point I don't think I've even used 5% of that space. And even if I do, I can archive material on my PC or simply let Amazon do it for me. They keep a listing of everything you've purchased through them or had them convert, (they have a service that will convert .txt, .doc, and a whole bunch of other file formats to the Kindle format, via attaching the file to an email and sending it to your special Kindle address, for $.15) so if you want to physically delete something from your Kindle, you still have it in your Kindle page on

And, of course, everything is delivered to your device wirelessly, via WhisperNet, Amazon's 3G network. There are no monthly or start-up fees. You buy the Kindle, you have access to WhisperNet, simple as that. And, really, you never have to spend a dime after the initial purchase of the Kindle. Go to Project Gutenberg ( and download all the free classic eBooks you want. You can even forgo Amazon's $.15 translation into Kindle format fee by sending the file to a special address that, instead of then sending the converted file to your Kindle, sends it back to you. Then you're only a USB cable away from uploading it to your Kindle yourself. (There are also independent utilities out there that you can use to convert files to the Kindle format without Amazon's involvement.)

I could write a lot more about the K2 features - text-to-speech, for instance, or the ability to play MP3's - but really, the proof is in the pudding. If you have a friend or a relative with a Kindle 2, DX, or even the first generation Kindle, ask them if you can give it a spin. For me, it was actually holding and using my brother-in-law's first-gen Kindle that sold me on the concept. Before that, I was one of the "I'll never give up real books" people. Afterward, I couldn't wait to own my very own Kindle 2.

Another nice thing about the Kindle format is the price of books. Most new hard cover novels are anywhere from $24.95 to $27.95. In Kindle format, most are $9.99. (There are some as high as $14.95.) That's a huge savings, not to mention the benefit of not having to sandwich yet another beefy novel into your already-overcrowded bookshelf. If, like me, you read a lot, both the money and the space saved, over the long term, will more than make up for the initial $300 cash outlay.

So, have I sold you yet? If you want to check out the Kindle 2 or Kindle DX for yourself, head on over to Amazon and give it a whirl!