I Don’t Want a Kindle Any More

July 6, 2009 at 11:19 am | Posted in Book Services | 10 Comments

I did want one.  I wanted one a great deal more than I wanted an iPod, which I talked myself out of.  I figured for travel, even if I only used it one week a year, it would be fantastic to carry a Kindle and leave the 15 pounds of books that normally infest my carry-on baggage at home.  But I got an opportunity to test-drive a Kindle this weekend, and now my crush is over.

Listen up, Amazon, because you need readers like me.  I love e-books.  I’m enchanted with the very idea of e-books.  I find them faster and more convenient to read, and I adore the portability.  I could be wrong, but I also think it would be better for the environment if publishing shifted toward electronic format and fewer books were remaindered and pulped.  More than the fact that I dig using an e-reader, you should know that I read massive amounts of text.  I read about 10 books a week, and I’m also an avid newshound.  If I’d bought all the books I’ve read this year on Amazon, I would already have spent over $3000 – and it’s only July.  So you want readers like me.

Why didn’t I like the Kindle?  There are two main reasons:  things about the Kindle itself, and ways the Kindle differs from my ancient PDA, which also works as an e-reader.  First, I couldn’t get over the flash whenever I turned a page.  That was so obnoxious to me that I actually gave up on the book I was reading after only about 40 minutes.  Is there a way to turn that feature off, or could there be?  Yikes.  Second, I found the ‘next page’ button really clunky to use.  Granted, it was in exactly the right spot, but I kept wanting it to be beveled and press at an angle.  These features might not have been quite so much of a turn-off, but the smaller screen size meant I had to turn pages 2-3 times more often than I would with a paper book.

Now, here’s why I like my [now retail value $3.99] old PDA better as an e-reader.  It scrolls.  I can choose to have the text scroll away to my heart’s content, and change the rate, too.  Having tried this once, I would never give it up.  To my mind, scrolling is the sine qua non of e-reading.  I was profoundly frustrated with the page-turning rate I could achieve with the Kindle, and that feeling was only amplified because I’d had great fun reading an e-book on my PDA only a week before.  The other thing is that the PDA has a touch screen.  If I wanted to switch back to manual page-turning, I could do this by brushing it with my fingertip.

There are other advantages to the PDA over the Kindle.  If I break it, I can simply buy another one on eBay with the cash in my change jar, because everything is backed up onto my PC.  The battery life is comparable or better, perhaps due to its smaller size.  It fits in my pocket.  It’s so jacked up and old that nobody would want to steal it.  (One of its screws is sheared off, so sometimes the cover comes loose and it resets.  But that’s just mine).  It has a stylus, something that’s become unfashionable for PDAs and smart phones but something you can pry out of my cold dead fingers.  Best of all, my PDA has a lot of other functions.  I can and do use it as an address book, calendar, alarm clock, recipe book, e-mail reader, and several other functions.  My nephews can even draw pictures in it for me – in a good way.

So, anyway, I used to want a Kindle but I knew I didn’t after only a few minutes with the genuine article in my hands.  I might come around and buy one in the future, if some significant changes were made.  I understand the page-turning feature is designed to save battery life, but that’s far less important to me than ease of use.  I’d rather it cost less, but if the e-books continue to drop in price relative to paper books, I won’t care so much.  Speed is the biggest factor of all.  I want to be able to scroll, and if the Kindle scrolled, I might even forget that it pretty much only reads books.  After all, that’s pretty much all I do, too.

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10 Comments »

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  1. Great post! I have never seen a kindle before, so I’d be really interested to try one. It is only through having a trial as you have done that I will really know whether I want one or not.

  2. They don’t appeal to me much at all but I like your list of objections. It shows how little designers really know their actual ideal customer.

  3. PS Apparently they break easily, too. I don’t even want to talk about how many times I’ve dropped my PDA, and it seems to be doing fine. My previous one quit because I spilled soda on it, but oddly, it began working again after a few weeks. My dad uses it now.

  4. I recently got a kindle, and am loving it. It’s funny, the page turn is one of the functions I like best about it — getting beyond scrolling was one of the great advances the book brought to readers previously used to papyrus scrolls, if you ask me. But I haven;t tried dropping it or spilling soda on it yet.

  5. My first experience with ebooks was the BeamItDown app on my IPOD touch. I have been reading a lot of classics lately. The main reason I love it it because I read while eating and I don’t like to have to turn pages. It scrolls along at the pace I want to read. If I want to stop, I touch the screen and it stops. Ready to continue, touch the screen and off I go again. I downloaded the Kindle app and was disappointed to find that you have to read one page at a time and turn just like a regular book. I don’t care for that at all. The scrolling is what makes an ebook work for me.

    • Thanks so much for writing! I had no idea the iPod scrolled e-books. I’ll definitely be looking into this.

  6. My sentiments EXACTLY. I had an app on my previous cell phone which allowed text scrolling. It made reading so easy because i didn’t have to “turn the page” i just read. I could even adjust the speed based faster or slower based on what i was reading and my level of concentration. Imagine my disappointment when i downloaded the Kindle app on my android phone and realized that with this tiny little screen i had to actually turn the pages. i wear myself out some days constantly turning pages. i won’t buy a kindle until they add this feature.

  7. I’ve never seen one either, but I can’t believe it doesn’t scroll. Are they totally clueless??? For the sake of battery life? Really??

    Does the Kindle2 offer auto-scrolling? I’m not sure what version you reviewed here. My wife bought me a Kindle book without the device (hahaha) and it won’t scroll, I’m not interested.

    • It was the Kindle 2. From what I’ve heard, the first version had an even slower page refresh rate, which would have made it absolutely pointless for me.

  8. Exactly. Page turning breaks your train of thought. It’s disruptive!


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