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Archive for the ‘Techie Stuff’ Category

For those of you who read my original Kindle report, you know how my experience with it went. If you did not read it you can find it here: My Short Life with Kindle.

Since then the kindle has been circulating through the library staff and four more people have had the opportunity to experience it. Reaction to date has been completely positive. Some of the issues with usability/ergonomics that I originally pointed out have been repeated by other staff members. But along with the criticisms there have been many more comments from my fellow librarians like: (more…)

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I heard it at CiL 2008 and have heard it talked about on blogs. There seems to be and obsession with DRM (Digital Rights Management) with many librarians and with some of the general public. Since I come from a business background I don’t quite understand all the huff amongst librarians. Following is a reply I made to a post on another blog regarding DRM that kind of encapsulates my current thoughts on the issue:

The above comments offer great insights into the whole libraries and DRM issue, but I have a little bit to add, even though I am a public librarian.

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I may have to have my appearance changed after this blog post, but I am going to risk it.

I love the Amazon Kindle!

Yes it has its issues, but I would love to have one, right now (stamps feet and throws fit)! I have been using a Kindle that our library purchased for evaluation (I am the New & Emerging Technologies Librarian, it’s a hard job I tell ya!). The Kindle does have an evil side; it would swallow my bank account since it is so easy to download books. In just over a week I went through four books and if the accounting office had not cut me off, I would be almost finished with my fifth one. So now it is time to share my experiences with you.

There are problems with this first version of the kindle, but most of them are easy to live with. To keep this review simple I will just try to list the pro and con’s of this latest e-book. Her it goes:

Cons:

  1. The damn thing costs too much! You will have to lay out $400 bucks to get one.
  2. The availability sucks. These have been hard to get hold of almost since day one.
  3. You are tied to the Amazon Kindle service for the life of the product. You will have to hope that they stay in business and continue to support the product.
  4. You cannot transfer titles you have purchased to other devices. They remain on your Kindle or on the Amazon server if your Kindle storage is full.
  5. Apparently they have told libraries NO! about lending out Kindles.
  6. Does not have a backlight. This saves battery life, but severely limits its’ use as a portable device in low light situations. It would not need to be on all the time.
  7. Graphics are so, so. It has some neat “screen” saves that are fun.
  8. Diagrams and code, yes I downloaded books with code in them since I am such a geek, do not enlarge with the text size. They come across every small and hard to read.
  9. Pretty much both sides of the device have active edges. This makes it very easy to accidentally “turn” the page. Keep it in the cover and this problem is reduced.
  10. There is an annoying page “flash” every time you “turn” a page.
  11. The lack of real page numbers is a pain. The location system that is used is easy to understand but not so easy to remember what location you where at (five digit numbers).
  12. Skipping a large number of pages requires that you use the built-in key board or hit the next/previous page button till you go nuts.
  13. Not every book ever written is available… yet! But there is more than 150K books available right now. Magazines are a bit under represented here as well.
  14. Fill in your thoughts here…

Pros:

  1. It is amazing easy to learn how to use. After about 10 minutes or less I was into my first book and navigating around the interface.
  2. The manual is on board. So you always have it close to hand.
  3. It is VERY easy to find and download books. The book store has an interface that is almost exactly like the very familiar Amazon online interface.
  4. It has built in wireless that connects in places that do not have WiFi. Journeying from Wisconsin to Washington D.C. there where no spots that I could not get access to the online store.
  5. Books download very quickly!
  6. It holds lots and lots of books. Something like 200, I have heard, but not test. And if you have more titles than you have space, they are conveniently stored on the Amazon server for you.
  7. It has a memory expansion slot.
  8. The battery lasts a really long time.
  9. The clarity of the text is great.
  10. You can change text size, but not font or color, very quickly. Largest size is equivalent to any large print book.
  11. While there can be screen glare from external light sources the Kindle display does not fade out in bright sunlight.
  12. Moving from page to page is fast and easy.
  13. It remembers that last page you where viewing, so you don’t have to search for your spot.
  14. You can place electronic bookmarks so you don’t loose your place. This is helpful if multiple people are using the device and reading the same book.
  15. You can place neat little “highlight” boxes around text.
  16. You can insert notes anywhere you want. This feature put writing in the margins to shame and shame on you if you have been writing in the margins anyway!
  17. You can save pages as “clippings” in a separate folder. That way you don’t have to go back to the actual book and try to find the page you wanted. Just go to your clippings and there it is.
  18. It has a built in dictionary. This really works well.
  19. You can download a sample of a book and check it out before you buy.
  20. Although not tested by me apparently you can also do audio books on the Kindle.
  21. Fill in your thought here…

So who should buy a Kindle?

If you travel and love to read, you should have a Kindle. If you love to read a lot of books that you never want to keep afterwards, do the planet a favor and buy a Kindle. If you’re a gadget junkie, you should have a Kindle. If you only read computer manuals with lots of diagrams and code in them, then the Kindle is not for you… yet.

Kindle and Libraries

I can see Kindles or similar devices playing a very active role in the future of libraries. These kinds of products would offer a level of access and availability that we just can not offer our patrons at this time. If we could offer a Kindle like service that was cost effective to our patrons, we would be in a win/win situation.

Final thoughts on the Kindle

I have really enjoyed my experience with the Kindle and hope to use it in the future. I plan on taking it with me to every conference I attend, on vacation and any other time I can sneak it out of the library. Yes, there are issues with the Kindle that need to be addressed, such as the active edges and the lack of a backlight for nighttime reading, but this a heck of a well designed first generation product. With some minor changes and if Amazon gets off it big butt and ups production numbers, the Kindle should claim its’ place in history and have a long happy life. It’s on my Christmas wish list this year.

The Amazon product review page is here.

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