How The Kindle Won Me Over In 7 Minutes

MikeachimThe Everyday25 Comments

Time – 00:00

Here is Mike, sat at a table.

Mike is a bespectacled, somewhat vague and dishevelled looking man of indeterminate age . He’s in front of his laptop – and frankly, they both look like they’ve seen better years.

From the half-open doorway comes a shout.

“This thing is amazing.”

With a grimace, Mike stands up. His brain is awhirl with Firmly-Held Opinions.

E-book readers? Do me a lemon. Yes, I’ve seen them in Borders – great hulking grey slabs looking like props from The Ten Commandments, almost none of the convenience of reading a book for 700 times the price. I’ll tell you what I want from an e-book reader: I want it to be like a book. The fact they never are is bewildering, given the name. Is the “e” bit code for “not”? And books are always, always going to be nicer to read than screens. Only an idiot would argue otherwise. And the day I can sit down in full sunlight, pull a device out my bag and start reading immediately is the day that…

Mike walks into the other room. And the clock starts.

Time – 00:10

Mike’s housemate A—— is playing with his new Kindle 3.

Mike immediately becomes aware of a few things.

The screen is incredible. It ain’t LCD. Ah, liquid crystals – you’re a wondrous thing. Liquid crystals go darker depending on the voltage running through them (hence “refresh rate), so to keep an image on a LCD you need to constantly feed energy into it. However, this power expenditure is dwarfed by the juice required to back-light an LCD. If you have any kind of gadget with a backlit display, power-saving tip number 1 is always “turn the brightness down”.

The Kindle doesn’t bother with any of that malarkey. It doesn’t use liquid crystals – it uses slimy bubbles, better known as electronic ink. The effect is astonishing, like a semi-transparent label stuck onto the screen. When he first unpacked his Kindle, Mike’s housemate hunted unsuccessfully for a corner to peel the ‘label’ off. Because it just doesn’t look like a screen.

It also doesn’t refresh, because once the ink-bubbles move around, they stay moved. And it doesn’t need to be backlit – it needs to be front-lit. Yes, like a real book. You have to read it in daylight, or get a clip-on light for the top. This means you can sit by the window with the sun washing over you, and read an electronic book. You can sit on the beach, getting a tan, reading your e-book. You don’t have to hide indoors. You don’t have to be reclusive anymore. Geeks never need be pasty-faced ever again.

Mike tries to hide the fact he’s impressed.

Time – 02:15

“Yeah, I’ll admit it looks nice. And the screen is amazing. But getting books on there is a hassle, isn’t it? I don’t mean the uploading, I’m presuming it’s all USB-driven – I mean the format. The Kindle book format. You’d have to convert things. What a pain.”

To demonstrate which end of the stick Mike has got hold of, A——- shows Mike how easy it is to get a book onto a Kindle.

“Yes, you can upload manually, but why bother when you can just e-mail it to yourself? A Kindle comes bundled with an Kindle account at Amazon, and your Kindle e-mail is your username with “@kindle.com” on the end. You e-mail your file to this addy – and the file automatically uploads to the Kindle, via its Wifi connection. Blink and you miss it. Or you can e-mail the file to Amazon, and they convert it into the easy-reading Kindle format and then mail it back…”

“Sorry sorry, back up. What do you mean ‘convert it’? What other formats will it read?”

“PDFs, Mike.”

It reads PDFs?

Mike has lots and lots of PDFs, from years of hoarding free ebooks. And he knows about Project Gutenberg and ManyBooks and other such sites, and tons of PDF-creation freeware, and he knows he can convert his CD collection of the 100-year archives of National Geographic into PDFs. He can read old National Geographics on his Kindle!

He realises he just said “his Kindle” to himself, and bites his lip.

Time – 03:15

“Bet it eats battery-power.”

“Lasts about a month.”

“Hahah, yeah, I thought….it what?”

“If it’s on standby, it’ll stay charged for a month. If you’re using it heavily, expect a couple of days before you have to juice it up again. Enough for a day or so’s travel, anyway. Oh, and check this out.”

It plays audiobooks too?”

Time – 05:30

“Mike, you don’t look very well all of a sudden.”

I must haz I must haz I must haz I must haz “I’m absolutely fine, I’m just feeling slightly Kindled. Tired. Yes. Tired. Long day at ebook – at work. It’s amazing, and I’ve been itching to get back into reading again, and it’s wonderful to read books on the Precious. Uh. Did….did I just call it…? GET A GRIP, MAN. It’s an e-book reader, not a Thing Of Power.

“Oh, and lastly….there’s the connection thing.”

“Well, it’s Wi-Fi. I know.”

“Yes and no, Mike. The lower-priced model is Wi-Fi only, so you need to use home broadband or a Wi-Fi hotspot. However, the other model uses 3G connectivity, like mobile phones. You can download your books anywhere, for free. And…you can do this.”

“What? You….you PDF’d my blog? Well, that’s very flattering, but…”

“No, Mike. This is a web-browser. I’m accessing your blog on my Kindle. For free. It’s filed under Experimental so there’s probably a lot it’ll struggle with, but for webmail it’s absolutely….”

Worldwide, free e-mail access when you’re travelling. Forever.

It’s a Thing of Power.

Time – 06:55

“Want a cup of coffee, Mike? Wait…are you…..are you….”

“Yes I’m buying one from Amazon What of it After all YOU bought one Why shouldn’t I eh I feel no shame And it’s not as if I had anything important to do with this money I was putting aside for dire emergencies I mean it’s just sitting there in the bank isn’t it Nasty little bankses wants to takes our Kindles aways from ussses…”

“…..”

Time – 07:00

A——- is on the phone to the local hospital, asking if this is a common reaction and if there’s anything he should do. Meanwhile, Mike is staring intently at his laptop screen, a little tear of joy rolling down his cheek…

…..

>>Delivery estimate: 27 Oct 2010 – 29 Oct 2010
>>Dispatch estimate for these items: 25 Oct 2010

>>1“Kindle Wireless Reading Device, Wi-Fi, 6″ Display, Graphite – Latest Generation”

E-book readers? Oh, marvellous, aren’t they? Just like books! Only an idiot would argue otherwise. Well, as I’ve always said – die paper, die.

……….

The Kindle is available from Amazon for £109 / $139 (WiFi only) and £149 / $189 (3G + WiFi). Click below for more details:

Kindle 3G Wireless Reading Device, Free 3G + Wi-Fi, 3G Works Globally, Graphite, 6″ Display with New E Ink Pearl Technology

And it’s dead good, honest.

No, I wasn’t paid to write this post. What, you really think Amazon would pay me to write about one of their products like this? Get real.

Images: tomorrowville, johncatral and Chris Gray.

  • I have to say that the more I hear about them the more I wish I had one. I also thought it was a backlit screen so just dismissed it until I saw the real thing.

    Oh to have $200…

  • But does it SMELL like a book?!

  • Liv

    One of my ex-classmates had one last spring. He let me touch it. oooooooooooooooooooooo…..

  • Hilarious review! I’m convinced! It’s so hard to find good, affordable books in South America, and they are so heavy to carry around that it seems perfect for travel. We’ll be ordering one the next time we have an address to send it to.

  • Jimbo

    But will your Kindle be useable and will your files be readable in 5000 years? Call me a Luddite but I’ll stick with my baked clay thanks…
    http://www.britishmuseum.org/explore/highlights/article_index/m/mesopotamian_cylinder_seals.aspx

  • belly

    i quite fancy one, but i’d probably never read it. (just like the books on my bookshelf!)

  • *drool* There are too many gadgets I want. :X

  • Amazon may not have paid you for this, but they should. Glad I discovered your site, Mike. Consider me converted. Er, initiated? Look forward to more. B well, Phil

  • Entertaining and informative – great post!

  • Lan

    how are you liking it now??? i’m deciding between this or nook and i’m SO TORN ON WHICH I WANT.

  • I LOVE LOVE LOVE MY KINDLE!! For anyone who doesn’t have one check out Passports with Purpose. For a $10.00 donation you might win one :)

  • Jim

    A consideration for a Christmas present for my wife, she devours books.

  • I’ve had mine for about a month now – used it almost every day on the road.
    It’s a book-loving backpacker’s dream come true!
    No more slim pickings between mildew infested 2nd hand books at the overpriced Used English bookstores on the road. For almost the same price, you can get a book anywhere. No – it doesn’t smell like a book. Dear god! Those who ask that…have you ever smelled a mildew-infested book that you find at backpacker bookshops? >.<

    AND – as I'm cruising down the overnight train from Butterworth to Bangkok, I can even check my email and do a little web-browsing from my berth….for free??

    Cha-ching!

  • This little devil won me over since it was in its 2nd Generation. I somehow jumped on the Amazon bandwagon and of course had to get the 3rd Generation with all the improvements that were made…not to mention it was almost $200 cheaper :-( In any case, I love my Kindle and couldn’t imagine living without it now. Enjoy!

  • LOVE mine, but it is broken right now. Being repaired at home. Have the Kindle 2 and it is a godsend — wish I would have had it on my whole RTW trip. Just be very, very careful with the screen. Even with cover, very little pressure can mess it up permanently.

  • Mikesachimp

    Ooooh can I see it!? Swap you a go on Kinect for look at your Kindle?

  • I just discovered your blog through the Almost Fearless top 100 list and I’m really enjoying it so far :)
    My husband won a 1st generation Kindle about a year ago and I was pretty sceptical I’d like it. I’m a book junkie and I just didn’t think the Kindle would stack up. After reading a few book on it though I was pretty impressed with it, especially for travelling. We reviewed it here: http://cheeseweb.eu/2010/01/kindle-choice-expats-environmentalists/

    The few negative points we had with it seem to have been addressed in the latest version. I won’t be running out to buy a new one any time soon, but if hubby was to win another one… I wouldn’t kick it out of bed :)

  • Richard P

    Oooooooooh I want one!!!!

    But I just got an iPhone4, and as I am not a Korean national, I had to pay for the phone in ONE go, which is not cheap!!! :(

    Can you lend me your Kindle until I save up enough money? :)

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  • I love this post so much.

    I was a wee bit disappointed when I got a kindle from my law firm as my “call to the bar” gift. I already own an iPad, what need would I have for a measly e-reader? And unlike some of the other brands, you can’t get library books…

    Ha. It probably took me LESS than 7 minutes to change my outlook completely. I’m now madly in love with my kindle, the lack of library books is made up for by the fact the library books available to the other e-readers seriously leave something to be desired. And I’ve got Project Gutenberg. And all of Amazon’s temporary free deals (from which I have read a few winners and several losers). And books for $10. Do you know how many times I’ve paid more than $10 for a stinky mildewy, crappy ass book in used book stores in the middle of nowhere just so I would have something to read?

    I just keep thinking about how half of my bag on each of my RTWs was filled with books. I can’t wait to get a brand new backpack for my next trip, since I can probably lose about 20L worth of space.

    I love kindle love ins. :)

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    • Kelly

      Kindle won me over…..I’m still a paper kind of woman but damn the convenience is awesome. And it will save my back when I travel….I usually stuff my clothes bag half full of books and have another two or so in my carry-on.

  • Deb

    Our team mate Sherry Ott on the Mongol Rally had a Kindle with 3G and it worked all the way to Mongolia. She could tweet for free in Kazakhstan! We were very jealous of her Kindle and vowed to get one for our next adventure. Highly recommend paying the extra money for the 3G it works, it really works!