It’s Kindle 2.0 Launch day, and you’ll find all about it, well, practically everywhere. Amazon has not yet sent a device for review (call me!), but I would like to tell you about my new Sony Reader.
Which is awesome.
First off: touch screen, people!
The touch screen leads to quite a bit of trickle-down quality, especially from an aesthetic standpoint because the device is mostly screen. If you want to take notes, it’s very simple: a keyboard pops up on the screen and you simply type on it. It’s also easy to navigate because you just touch which book you want to read, so there’s no scrolling.
The display itself is a wonder: if you haven’t seen e-ink you haven’t seen… uh, e-ink. The best comparison I can make is that it’s like an Etch-a-Sketch. It’s not backlit. It’s not like reading on a PDA or laptop. Repeat: it’s not like reading on a PDA or laptop. It doesn’t strain your eyes any more than paper. Repeat: it doesn’t strain your eyes any more than paper. And the pages turn noticeably faster with this version of the Reader. It’s just a tiny blink.
(And yes, I know that there will still be comments from people worried about eye-strain)
But perhaps my favorite underrated aspect of this device is quite simple: a built-in nightlight.
Because the screen isn’t backlit, you can only read it under light. Thus, having a nightlight is basically indispensable for reading at night.
Other cool features:
– you can easily change the font size and layout if you’d like to read bigger or on widescreen.
– multiple ways to change pages, whether pressing a button or “flicking” the touch-screen with your finger
– an approximation of page numbers, unlike Kindle’s bewildering “locations”
– the leather case snaps shut easily with a nice magnet
– you only need to charge it, at most, once a week
The Reader does have some drawbacks: the e-book store is not yet Mac compatible, and I do miss the lack of wireless. For an average reader I don’t think this would be a problem because you can easily load up a bunch of books on a single plug-in and be good to go for a while. When you’re an agent dealing with a thousand partials, however, I miss the wireless.
You can check out the Reader at your friendly neighborhood Target, Borders, and other stores.
I honestly, honestly never thought when I got a Kindle and Sony Reader that I’d become a raving lunatic of a fan of these devices. But what can I say? I really feel like it’s an improved reading experience. I like reading with one hand so I can hold onto the bus/train with the other hand. I like the lack of clutter. I like getting books instantaneously. I like being able to easily search a book and have access to a ton of them. I like how they always open up to the last place I left off.
We’ll always have paper books, and I’d always want to have some of my favorites. But now that I have e-readers: I can’t imagine going back.
UPDATE: In the comments section people have been weighing on the new commenting system (an embedded window) vs. the old one (separate page with icons). Let’s put it to a vote, and I’ll change it accordingly:
Your going to let a toddler carry around a Kindle?
Nathan Bransford says
It’s literally a series of LEDs on the side of the screen. It makes it a little brighter on the sides than in the middle (so it’s not like an Indiglo watch, for instance), and it also seems to run down the battery a tad more quickly, but it gets the job done and doesn’t add bulk.
You can get a “two year service plan with accidental damage from handling” for $55 Seems like a good idea
Nathan – Thanks! I just watched the video here, which showed it in action for all of one second.
I wish the Kindle had that! I’m one built-in LED away from buying one. 🙂
Lisa Katzenberger says
Nathan, love the one-stop commenting. But I’m not in love with the Kindle or Sony Reader yet.
Let’s remember… these are supposed to be readers, NOT mini PCs. Right? So saying that a mini netbook or some other version of a mini laptop is a better purchase isn’t quite on the mark. It’s overkill. If you have to write, and do other things like work, get a laptop (however large you want it). If you want to read, get a Kindle 2 (or Sony if you wish). Also, saying that the iPhone and other PDAs or mobile phones are competition for the Kindle 2 and the Sony Reader is short-sighted because who in his right mind would want to read a novel on such small real estate? Fine, enlarge the text… then you’ll be scrolling the page every half second. If you’re reading Japanese literature made for mobiles, that’s fine…
Anon February 10, 2009 9:04 AM –
Just because you can’t imagine reading a novel on your iPhone or other PDA doesn’t mean they’re not competition. ebooks for iPhone are selling, and have been for other PDAs for longer than Kindle or Sony reader have existed. I personally ride public transit with just my PDA/phone and have read at least a few dozen novels on PDAs.
I hope that the future brings us cross-platform, DRM-free ebooks. What’s happening with the music industry (Amazon, iTunes) and the book industry needs desperately to adapt to existing online distribution models to learn to survive in the current economy.
Wait, so you have both a Sony Reader and a Kindle now? How did that happen? Is one better than the other for certain circumstances?
Check out this link.
the Amateur Book Blogger says
PW has more info today about the Plastic Logic Reader. Though they say it’s pitched at business users, I think this will be of interest to fiction and casual readers, a school book of the future – plastic, flexible, light and about US Letter sized and will be in color within 5 years.
“Plastic Logic, a new company that plans to launch a new eReader device in 2010, announced its first content partners at the O’Reilly Tools of Change conference today. The company has signed agreements with Ingram Digital for e-book distribution, LibreDigital for electronic newspapers, and Zinio for magazines, as well as with the newspapers the Financial Times and USA Today. The Plastic Logic e-content store, which will launch at the same time as the reader, will be powered by Fictionwise.”
Wow.. my vote (#189) made a difference at this moment…
Marilyn Peake says
Anonymous, February 10, 8:38 A.M.,
Yeah, children’s picture books would be great. And an e-reader as indestructible as the Nintendo game systems – I’ve seen those things dropped onto the ground without breaking.
Looks great — but how close does it shave?
Marilyn Peake says
I just now discovered that there are some children’s picture books available for the Kindle.
Erika. With a K. says
I was a “you can pry my paper books from my cold dead hand” voter (though I’m not one of those concerned about eye strain)… however, the more I read about Kindle and the Sony Reader, the more I’m starting to change my opinion on paper books. I will miss the smell though….
I’m probably going to be the LAST person to go to an ebook reader. And it’s largely because to me, reading is an ESCAPE from technology. I don’t want to engage with technology period, when I read fiction.
Now if the price came down a bit, I could see it for non-fiction most definitely. (Then again, maybe not, I like to underline my non-fiction)
But, the Sony seems pretty neat, and I would definitely go for that before Kindle.
Elissa M says
I had to comment just to see what changed. Now I can’t vote because I don’t really care either way and you didn’t give that option.
Nathan – I appreciate all of the effort you put into this blog to educate and inform those like me who have much to learn.
Thanks also for providing us with a place to gather. I visit here daily, yes I even check in on Sat & Sun on the off chance you have something to share.
It was nice that you allowed us to vote on the commenting format before changing it for good.
I voted for the old, but will surely get accustomed to the new.
K.S. Clay says
I didn’t used to like the idea of ebooks, because I like the physical experience of holding a book in my hand and turning the pages. At the same time, the idea of ebooks and ebook readers is quickly becoming more attractive, mainly for one reason: I like to read multiple books at once, usually a novel and one or more nonfiction books on various subjects. It would be easier to keep track of all of them if they were all on the same device. Also, I could then carry them all with me rather than settling for whichever one fit my purse. Finally, I imagine an ebook library would be more organized than I currently am. I don’t actually have access to half of my books right now since last time I moved they got placed in the garage and quickly stacked and surrounded by other things, rendering it hazardous to my health to try to clear a path to dig out a particular title. Unfortunately, I can’t afford the price tag for an ebook reader so it’s not an option right now. But I’d definitely consider it in the future. Thanks for sharing your experience with the Sony, Nathan. I like the new comments system.
SB @ February 10, 2009 9:18 AM
I take your point that people have been reading on their PDAs and cellphones. But now that there are specific readers in the market, that may change.
Of course, we as consumers want everything in a product. I think the real competition for Sony and Amazon is Apple. Apparently, there’s talk of a small tablet coming out… bigger than the iPhone. If it has the capabilities of the iPhone along with a DRM-free reader, it will pretty much dominate for quite a while. I would love a small tablet with a stylus to jot handwritten stuff, mixed in with a phone that has video capabilities, and the entertainment factor of an iPhone. Yeah, sure… add email. Let’s move away from laptops.
@Anon February 10, 2009 9:18 AM –
I love everything in a product, which is why I read ebooks on my iPhone and my other PDA (yes, I have two everything gadgets). The Kindle really, really cool, but I don’t think it will ever monopolize the ebook market. A separate product just for *books* is great for us book lovers, but not what casual book readers want.
Also, as someone who buys ebooks, I can understand why Nathan would want or need two ebook readers. Some books are only available for Kindle, or only for Sony Reader. That is frustrating to me (I don’t own either), which is why a cross-platform ebook file format is important (analogous to the mp3 music format).
So I guess my stance is, sign me up for the a great everything gadget, and please let me get ebooks on it! 🙂
That last one was to anon February 11, 2009 3:14 AM, btw. I’m overly passionate about this ebook thing, if you haven’t guessed. 🙂
Ahh, Nathan, I hate the new layout for commenting. But only because some how my work computer blocks me from posting under this new system but I can post just fine using the commenting system with the pictures. darn darn darn. Guess this means I will have to work at work. How sad.
Not sure if this has been answered – I didn’t read all 123 comments!
Can you buy a Kindle edition on Amazon and download it to the Sony, or can you only read Kindle editions on a Kindle reader?
SB @ February 11, 2009 1:43 PM: Yes, and that’s a good thing! I’m a horrible reader, want to be a better one, and love technology. I’ve heard that the Kindles have helped a lot of people consume books more often and more voraciously (b/c of its capability to download immediately… and now allows us to preview books), so if that’s true, the technology may be helping our industry!
A @ February 11, 2009 6:06 PM: Here’s the thing that people are griping about: I think Amazon’s books are a proprietary format. This I believe is the reason why the publishing industry is a little wary of Amazon’s efforts at dominance. It’s a little like Apple and iTunes back in the day. But to be fair, Sony has their own proprietary format too. Both readers handle all sorts of other formats. I think in general it will be a race to see who has the larger catalog, who has the less restrictive use licensing, and who (if possible) has the best reader. I still say Apple has the best handle on useability, design, and forward thinking. But with regard to formats, in my ignorant opinion, it’s almost up to the consumer to complain enough to get the digital industry to open up (just like music).
I just came across this looking for clarity: https://tinyurl.com/24oyvh It’s an article at Gizmodo that talks about the licensing issues with Amazon and Sony. NOTE: this was published in March of 2008 so things might have changed.
Oh and by the way, don’t count out the alliance that seems to be forming between Apple and Google with regard to books. That’s a space to watch too…
One truly last thing: if reading on mobiles or on computer and you haven’t checked these sites out by now, go to DailyLit and Project Gutenberg for free reads…
(coffee’s done, goodbye)