If you Kindle - how has it changed you?
September 30, 2008 6:14 PM   Subscribe

Kindle Filter: If you own a Kindle - how has it changed the way you read? Do you read more? Less? More books? Fewer books? More/fewer publications and blogs? I never dreamed I would fall in love with something like this as I've always been a physical book lover, yet I can honestly say its changed the way I read. I find myself reading more books and find it easier to focus on one book versus juggling several with a stack next to me. If you're a Kindle owner - tips or tricks for a new Kindler?
posted by Gerard Sorme to Society & Culture (23 answers total) 57 users marked this as a favorite
I read a lot more pulp fiction from the 20's, on account of it being free and available in massive quantities. Likewise, classic essays, 19th century novels, and anything easily grabbable from online.

I've always read compulsively and now professionally. The Kindle is no good for scholarship (annotation is too hard even with the little keyboard things, it's hard to keep track of locations), but it's great for reading at night before sleep. It's not as heavy as a real book to hold over your head, and in cold climates, you only need expose one hand to the elements to change pages. It's great for travel reading, because the battery lasts forever (without the wifi) and you can carry a whole stack of light reading.

As far as tips: practice reading without hitting that damnable 'back' button.
posted by LucretiusJones at 7:00 PM on September 30, 2008

Best answer: The Kindle has changed the way I read to a huge extent. I find myself able to fit in a chapter of a book while doing otherwise boring activities like waiting for a bus or waiting at the doctor's office. Granted, I could have done this even with a regular book, but I usually forgot to bring a book or wasn't in the mood for the book I had at hand. Having a huge library of books to choose from at any time is an amazing feeling.
I definitely read far more than before, perhaps as much as I used to read as a kid with no tv in the house and little in the way of work to do. I tried to keep a list of books I was reading each month and found I was averaging about 12 books a month or so. I don't read many magazines or blogs on the Kindle. I prefer getting that sort of content online and I'm scared that the monthly fees will start adding up without my noticing.
The Whispernet delivery is the key to the Kindle for me. It means that I can get obsessed with a particular subject for a couple weeks and be able to find books related to that subject and start reading them within minutes. I also love being able to download the first couple chapters of books before buying. I make fewer bad decisions about books because of this feature.
Regarding tips and tricks for a new user: explore all the options for free books out there. While Project Gutenberg is the most well-known site that provides out-of-copyright ebooks, the Mobile Read forums are a good place to look for legal books in the .mobi/.prc format which is native to the Kindle and doesn't need to be converted. Very often books that are listed for a dollar or so on Amazon are actually out of copyright and can be obtained easily and perfectly legally from such sites. For example, I just got a collection of all of G. K. Chesterton's Father Brown stories from MobileRead and have been enjoying one each night.
The "experimental" (and free!) Internet access provided on Kindle's is actually perfectly usable and can be used to check your email or even to read Ask.Metafilter while on the go.
posted by peacheater at 7:00 PM on September 30, 2008 [5 favorites]

Make that Kindles in the last line.
posted by peacheater at 7:01 PM on September 30, 2008

After reading LucretiusJones' comment, the Kindle has definitely shifted the distribution of what I read towards stuff published before 1930 or so. Certain things are just made for reading on a Kindle e.g. George Orwell's essays. I'm unlikely to pick up a book of his essays at a store, but I love reading them one at a time on the Kindle.
posted by peacheater at 7:03 PM on September 30, 2008

I read (past tense) less. Because 90% of the time I got a book recommendation (whether from a friend or online or however), it wasn't available for the Kindle. So I sold my Kindle, and now I read more.
posted by nitsuj at 7:06 PM on September 30, 2008

Response by poster: Very interesting. That's a great observation about reading more classic literature due to its availability (and its being free!). The one big problem I have with collections, and I've bought more than a few, are some of the freebie or very inexpensive collections lack an "active" Table of Contents and it makes it difficult to navigate. I have found certain publishers are very good at repackaging the classics with the "active" TOC (MobileReference is one). For those that don't know, an "active" Table of Contents is more than just a listing of the chapters (or books if in a collection), they actually link directly to the correct chapter, novel, story, etc.
posted by Gerard Sorme at 7:16 PM on September 30, 2008

I love my Kindle, and I am a huge lover of physical books. I read fast, so taking books when I travel was a hassle because I had to take lots which was bulky; the Kindle solves this problem. (I also read at the pool on vacation with Kindle safely in a plastic ziploc bag.)

I really enjoy the Kindle for reading in bed; I find it easier to hold than a book and of course, it's easier to switch to some other book if my mood changes.

I love downloading stuff from the web and reading it. (a friend mentioned a bonus - you can download XXX books if you want and no one would know You weren't reading War and Peace. Makes me want to download a naughty book just for the sake of the sneaky!)

Like as already been mentioned, the kindle is handy for reading when waiting in line, or at the doctor's office, or while lunching alone.

I download a lot of sample chapters which is great for exploring new stuff.
posted by pointystick at 7:42 PM on September 30, 2008

I would assume that reading while at airports, on the plane, is much easier - after reaching the necessary altitude. Any other comments from travelers?
posted by yclipse at 8:05 PM on September 30, 2008

Best answer: I've gone on and on about my Kindle in various blog posts aimed at my LibraryLand colleagues, and I'll do the same here: I <3>
As noted, I've found myself diving back into classics that I read a long time ago, or those that I haven't read but should. Lots of Dickens, Verne, Austen, Orwell, and Lovecraft.

But I'm also _loving_ the amount of amazing current reading there is for us sci-fi and fantasy fans. Baen and Tor have been giving away free ebooks for a long time, and many genre authors make their work available for free electronically. Cory Doctorow's work, for example, is all freely available, and mostly quite good.

I do find myself spending more money, overall, on books. Sometimes this is because I want both the print and the electronic, but often it's just because the ease of access makes it so darn fast...I can hear about a book on NPR or from a friend, and have it 2 minutes later.

My best tip: grab a copy of the Mobi Creator software...it does an awesome job of converting PDFs, HTML, Doc files...whatever, really...to Mobi format. Even lets you edit the metadata so that the title and author show up just the way you want. Oh, and you can add book covers!

Editorial aside:

Having lived through the ever-more-insane RIAA/MPAA's attempts at maintaining there archaic distribution models, I do think the publishing industry needs to wake up, and fast. They may already be too late...as I mentioned in a presentation about the future of libraries that I gave a few weeks ago, while browsing a well known torrent tracker, I saw a torrent that was ALL of the Hugo award nominees since like 1954. All of them...we're talking hundreds of the best sci-fi written in the last 60 years, all PDF'd for your pleasure. Even if the Kindle isn't the ipod of ebooks, it's coming. Just a matter of time.
posted by griffey at 8:08 PM on September 30, 2008 [1 favorite]

I don't have a Kindle, but I'm reading a lot more due to my iPhone. I use the Stanza application for reading print and Librivox for getting audio books. Like others, I'm reading a lot more stuff from the 1800s and early 1900s, which I tend to prefer in print books, too. I like that I always have several books with me on my phone, and the screen is surprisingly easy to read, though I prefer listening to audiobooks.
posted by PatoPata at 8:12 PM on September 30, 2008 [1 favorite]

To fourcheesmac... I owned a Sony Reader and sold it for a Kindle. Hell I was sold back in the day of the Rocket Ebook because I traveled a lot (for 6 months at a time) and didn't want to carry a load of books around. While the Rocket LCD backlit screen was hard on the eyes, the Sony Reader and Kindle's e-ink are painless. The better the light, the easier it is to read.

Basically the Reader and Kindle are the same screen. But the Reader has a better form factor - no pesky page turning keys to hit accidentally.

But the Kindle Whispernet... oh the Whispernet! It changed everything for me. Daily editions of my favorite newspaper for my morning commute... every book I've looked for (except one - Infinite Jest) has been available when I've looked for it in the Kindle Store, and it truly is downloaded in a minute. Friend recommended a booK? Downloaded in an instant. Magazine subscription? Bought and downloaded instantly. Online Blog? Downloaded and updated automagically.

I read a LOT. While I loved my Sony Reader, the Kindle Whispernet makes all the difference in the world to me. Pretty much everything becomes instantly accessible. Sure, those damn page turn keys are horribly designed, but I've gotten used to them.

Trick for the Kindle... instead of just using bookmarks use the 'page clip' feature - it's great for seeing something in context. Also, the dictionary lookup function is actually handy in my experience.
posted by matty at 8:16 PM on September 30, 2008 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: The Internet access is a special bonus. Being Sprint EVDO, you would normally pay $65 plus a month for the access that you get for free with the Kindle! It's one way a friend of mine justified his purchase. It pays for itself pretty quick if you look at it like that. And, let's hope it stays free for a good while longer.

A couple of tips I have picked up concerning web browsing on the Kindle:

- making a custom html page that resides on my server that is nothing but my favorite "must-read" sites - all in their mobile editions when possible. Then, my first "Bookmark" on the Kindle is a link to that custom start page and - away I go.

- Instead of going to all the blogs I read, I use Kindlefeeder to send them straight to my Kindle. It's just like subscribing through Amazon - but free. I worry about it though because too many start using that and they'll start charging for the access. I understand the blog and periodical subs help pay for the access. So, to that end, I do subscribe to the NY Times constantly updated news blog (the best) and "Caucus," the New York Times political blog. I also have Kindle subs to The Nation and Atlantic Monthly.

Matty, I'm with you on the dictionary use; it's an incredible feature and I find myself looking up words a lot more often than if I had to go pick up a big dictionary.
posted by Gerard Sorme at 8:23 PM on September 30, 2008 [3 favorites]

I love my Kindle for all the reasons stated above -- and as a huge book lover, I never thought I'd like an ereader as much as I do... I don't even buy paper books anymore. But what I've also noticed is that I read faster on the Kindle. I have no idea why, but I am very happy with that result!

Bill, I don't know anything about PDB format, but if you can print it to PDF then you can transfer it to a Kindle format (for free). If you'd like to print one to PDF and post it or send it to me, I can put it on my Kindle and see if it comes out clearly. About Kindle 2.0, I've heard rumors also, but really nobody but Amazon knows.
posted by Houstonian at 2:08 AM on October 1, 2008

As a big RocketBook fan back in the day, I am very interested in the Kindle but haven't justified the purchase price to myself yet. It looks slick, and these comments go a long way toward convincing me to buy one of these guys.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 7:05 AM on October 1, 2008

Best answer: As others have mentioned, I find myself reading a lot of the "classics" that I would never bother to carry around in physical form. I made it thru Anna Karenina recently, and loved being able to make notes of questions to ask the russian guy at work.

I love being able to google up the answer to any bar disagreement.

I've never bought one of their newspaper or magazine selections, I am buying more books per month than I did in physical form, but only one at a time, whereas when I go to a physical store, I tend to leave with a stack of 5-6 books at once.

I find it very annoying that you can't wishlist kindle titles. Amazon's excuse for why they didn't bother supporting wishlists up front was so annoyingly bogus, I've vowed not to read another paid-for book on the kindle till they do, but then I found out Jasper Fforde has got some kindle-available titles.

I HATE HATE HATE the way people insist on interrupting me to ask about it, more so than if I was just reading a regular book. There are times I'd love to be evangelizing for it, but most of the time, I want to read in peace.

I also wish the battery life meter was more linear. I find it often seems to go from nearly-full charge to nearly-dead without me noticing any in-between zone. Understand that the actual amount of usage I get out of the battery seems fine to me, about a week with minimal whispernet usage, but I rely on my memory of how long it's been more than the charge-display, when deciding when to plug it in. It does totally suck to have the battery die when you've just sat down to read, so I'm hoping there's a v2 upgrade program, and v2 has a more easily swapped battery system.
posted by nomisxid at 8:30 AM on October 1, 2008

Response by poster: Wow. What great responses. I am not sure how to properly rate a "best answer" as this entire thread has been a great look inside the thoughts of Kindle owners. Thank you!!!
posted by Gerard Sorme at 11:21 AM on October 1, 2008

Can't believe no one's mentioned ask kindle nownow - send a question, and get 3 answers sent to your kindle. I've used it for research-necessary questions on the go - like how much would it cost to buy all the DLC for rock band, stuff like that.

Other thing is space. I carry 100+ books in my backpack every day now, a whole library. I bought it because of this - I was spending the summer in NYC and knowing me, if it weren't for my kindle there would be a lot less space in that tiny apartment because I would have brought a whole ton of books. I think I had 4? hard copy books with me, and yet I never ran out of reading material.

As for what I read, I've been taking a trip back to my childhood, to save my dignity I won't expand on that here. Not stuff I would read if I had to buy the hard copies.

If you're a voracious reader or if you like reading multiple books at a time, go for it. You won't regret it.
posted by sary at 12:06 PM on October 1, 2008

Response by poster: Sary, Another feature that Amazon doesn't publicize (but should, imo) is that the SD slot is actually SDHC compatible as of a firmware update a couple of months back. I have a 16GB SD card in mine now - filled with audio books, and plenty of room to grow. You're now talking the possibility, with a 32GB SDHC card, of hundreds of thousands of books - in your backpack!

Yes....NowNow. I haven't used it yet, but it's a great to know it's there.

What a great thread this has been. Thanks!
posted by Gerard Sorme at 8:06 PM on October 1, 2008

For years I've kept a list of all the books I read. A few months ago I looked up the last 30 or so books I've read to see if they were available for Kindle. Something like 4 of them were. Maybe it's just me--I definitely represent the long tail.
posted by neuron at 9:02 PM on October 1, 2008

With the Kindle, I read more books, and I read them more quickly. As others have mentioned, I've been reading more classics because they're freely available on Project Gutenberg. If only I could organize all those books into folders!
posted by paulg at 8:47 AM on October 2, 2008

Man, this is doing nothing to help assuage my Kindle-envy.

Anyone know when Kindle 2.0 is due out?
posted by AngerBoy at 8:39 PM on October 2, 2008

I definitely read more books. I've also found that the breadth of what I read has expanded, thanks to the free sample feature. I have no qualms about having a free sample sent, and if I am intrigued, I buy the book. I checked recently, for my own data-obsession, and I've bought from roughly 90% of the samples they've sent me. This means that instead of corraling myself in sci-fi and fantasy, aka whatever I hear about from friends, I've branched out to general fiction, historical fiction, some non-fiction...

Also, because it's so easy to take with me when I travel, I'm reading more. I used to just carry a ton of magazines on planes, because then I could just toss them when done and be less burdened. Now, I skip magazines and books altogether and just take my Kindle. If the book is good enough, I can get through a cross-country flight with no other entertainment.
posted by TsuKata at 7:19 AM on October 3, 2008

has the kindle changed just what you all read or also where?
posted by krautland at 1:48 PM on October 4, 2008

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