Jonathan Crowe

I’m a blogger and writer from Shawville, Quebec. I’m best known for DFL and The Map Room. Lately I’ve been reviewing science fiction at AE and editing a fanzine called Ecdysis. More about me.

My Correct Views on Everything

Kindle First Impressions

Ophiuchus and Serpens on Kindle The Kindle is half the size of my iPad. It’s also one-third the weight (241 g vs. 730 g). It’s quite easy to hold, and the e-ink is as readable as advertised. I hadn’t actually seen a Kindle before mine turned up last week, and this screen is better, I think, than the Sony e-reader screens, which I had seen before. I can easily see reading this thing for long periods of time.

Ergonomically it’s a bit of a mixed bag. E-ink notwithstanding, the Kindle’s text rendering falls short of the iPad’s iBooks app in a couple of ways: its always-on text justification is messy in places, and it doesn’t support hyphenation. And navigation is trickier than I’d like: I’m still getting used to going without a touchscreen. Anything other than page-turning is fiddly.

Buying books has always been easy: even when I was using the Kindle’s iPad app, I was impressed by how quickly purchased books turned up. I imagine buying from the Kindle itself will be easy enough as well. Selection and price via Amazon is substantially better for Canadians than via Apple’s iBooks, which has Canadian prices a buck or two higher than U.S. prices, even though the dollar is at par right now; books that are available in both stores in the U.S. are often available only via Amazon in Canada. And Amazon doesn’t charge any taxes at all.

Adding Kindle-formatted content requires hooking up the Kindle to the computer via USB and treating it like a connected drive: you add files to the appropriate folder. Files added manually do not sync to other Kindle reading apps: only purchased Kindle content does that. It’s a little clunkier than adding epub files to iTunes, which at least allows for a central repository of e-books, whether purchased or imported, that gets synced to the iBooks app on all your devices.

So, so far: Amazon wins on screen readability, weight, and book selection and prices, as well as the as-yet-unmentioned-but-obvious battery life; Apple wins on text formatting, user interface, and library management. I expect to continue to use both for the foreseeable future.