Sunday, February 05, 2012

// // 4 comments

Review: Amazon Kindle

Programming note – once a week or so we’re going to do a product review article.  The blog does have some operating costs associated with it, and so far our advertising attempts (on the sidebar) aren’t even covering a cup of coffee per month.  Our product reviews will include a product link, where we’ll get a commission if you select to buy via that link.

NOTE – if you click on the Amazon.com ad on the sidebar and BUY ANYTHING, even things you’d normally go and by, we’ll get a commission – helping keep our blog operating with NO EXTRA COST TO YOU.

Today’s review – the Amazon Kindle.

The Amazon Kindle is an e-book reader.  I do a lot of online reading, but I really wasn’t sure spending more time in front of a glowing screen was the way to go.  However, after spending a few years in Israel buying English books at retail +70%, I decided a Kindle was the only reasonable way to be able to afford English reading while overseas.

When I received my first Kindle, I was surprised by the screen technology.  E-book readers do not use traditional LCD screens, they use “e-ink” technology, which is a screen type that uses less power and is much more paper-like in appearance (in contrast and coloration). 

I was further surprised by the size, about the height and width of a paperback book while being about the thickness of a small magazine.  And further by the battery life…weeks to a month per charge.

We received our second Kindle just a month ago.  The new Kindle’s screen has even better contrast and the device is even thinner, while being $50 cheaper (at only $79).

All that technical stuff is nice, but here’s the main point.  E-books are CHEAPER than paper books (mostly, a few crazy publishers charge the same or more), usually 30% – 70% less for the same book.  Amazon has built easy search and purchase into the Kindle, so a click or two and you’ve found, bought and auto-downloaded the book you want.  NO TECHNICAL knowledge is necessary to use a Kindle or buy books with one.

Many authors are self publishing and selling for $4.99 or less (which is about the profit they made on that $29.95 book anyway).  Further, some authors are giving the first book of a series away for free, just to get you hooked (since there is no COST to them in distributing an e-book), or giving a book away for a week or two, to get some initial readers who will rate and comment on the book (generating some social media buzz).  Additionally Amazon is giving away a number of classics (that are out of copyright), I particularly enjoyed the free Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin for example.

I’ve recommended them to my family, bought 2 myself, and now I highly recommend it to you.  At $79 for the basic model, it’s a great deal. 

A note on using a Kindle in Israel.  Amazon is forced by some publishers to limit their book distribution or adjust pricing by geographic area.  But, being their customers may be travelling with their Kindles around the world, they apply that limit by payment information.  Meaning if you’re paying with a US credit card, you’re considered in the US.  If you’re paying with an Israeli credit card, you’re in Israel and subject to surcharges and region limitations.

Things the Kindle can do that I don’t care about – read me audio books, browse the web, display Word or PDF documents, subscribe to newspapers or magazines, accept manual book downloads from publishers that don’t sell on Amazon.com. 

A picture of my first Kindle, what’s now called a “Kindle Keyboard”, because it has a little mini-keyboard at the bottom. 

DSC00472

4 comments:

josh said...

Do you see seforim going in this direction? Certainly, texts have been computerized and catalogued already, but are e-readers the final gong in paper seforim as well? or will Shabbat always keep the seforim publishing industry alive?

Anonymous said...

Rabbi please pray my husband will finally listen to me (smile) when I have told him for 2 or 3 years now I want one of these. I have wanted one so bad, and keep hoping he will buy me one but nope it hasn't happened, but he did by me an almost $1000.00 dollar lap top last year, yet I still want a Kindle. A good one. Shalom Ariela

Anonymous said...

I have heard that the major Jewish publishers are still resistant to publishing actual seforim (though they have released some novels) in an e-book format since they are afraid of Shabbat usage. Not sure if this will change but I think that's the case for now.

Akiva said...

Ariela, tell him directly. Husbands aren't so good at getting hints. This doesn't mean they don't love you or aren't paying attention to you, it means they're men.

Josh, so far e-readers are good for traditional book reading, but not very good at reference style books (a cookbook or a gemora). The more expensive and bigger iPad and Amazon Kindle Fire do present reference books ok, but require much more development effort for the publisher (making it less likely to self publish). I think seforim publishers are safe for the next 5 years, but Feldheim and Artscroll and the like should be moving their novel and biography catalogs to e-book format.

Anonymous, I think that's a false argument for those resistant to change. Regardless, as non-Jewish physical bookstores are already going out of business, they would be wise to adjust their approach for the changing market before it kills them.

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