Recently a book that I had been eagerly anticipating, “Dresden Files Book 13: Ghost Story” by Jim Butcher, was published and I immediately jumped over to Audible.com to buy the audio book. Just before clicking the “Add to Cart” button I noticed that the customer reviews for the book were really low.
Surprised by this I started reading the reviews and found out that James Marster’s was not the narrator. WOW!!! How could that happen? James Marster’s IS Harry Dresden. I cannot imagine anyone else living up to the incredible job that he has done narrating and acting the first 12 books and “Side Jobs”.
Based on the reviews I decided that I did not want to hear even a sampling of the new guy and decided to buy the book and read it instead of listen to it.
After some thinking I decided to buy it as an ebook from Amazon to be read with the Kindle software on the iPhone 3GS, iPad 1, and various Apple laptops. Even though the price of $14.99 feels REALLY high to me for an ebook especially when the hardback is only a dollar more I bought it anyways. The book was delivered to my iPhone very quickly and I was able to start reading in a matter of minutes.
But, the font on the iPhone Kindle app is a terrible serif font that you cannot change to any other font. Every study ever done on the readability of text on a backlit computer screen has found that a sans-serif font like Helvetica, Arial, or Verdana is much easier and faster to read. I am not sure why, but the font made the book unreadable to me.
Then I noticed that the text was being fully justified so that the spacing between words is different on every line. I am unable to create a rhythm in my reading because my eyes have to jump a different amount between every word. That plus the font issue makes reading a chore.
A co-worker pointed out to me that Amazon has refurbished Kindle’s available for $99 so I decided that owning a Kindle was an experience I needed to have. A few clicks and 24 hours later the ninja UPS guy who never knocks dropped it off.
After an easy setup that required plugging the Kindle into a computer and registering it then leaving the Kindle alone for 3 or more hours to charge I was ready to read with it.
The device itself is nice and solid, the buttons give a decent amount of feedback when pushed, and the screen has enough contrast to be easy on the eyes.
I can choose from multiple fonts which include a sans serif one, I can change the spacing between lines of text, but I still cannot change the justification to be left aligned.
Reading on the Kindle is a decent experience; with its reflective screen it causes noticeably less eyestrain than the iPhone, iPad, or laptop screen, and when dropped into a Ziploc freezer bag it is comfortable to read from in the bathtub. The battery life is great, the selection of books is great, support for Audible is cool, and being able to listen to MP3s while reading is neat.
I find the device to be so thin that it is uncomfortable to hold, that the locations of the back and forward buttons still confuse me after reading a novel, the keyboard is tough to type on when playing word games, the web browser does not handle very many web sites well, and it is yet another device to drag around and worry about losing or breaking.
I doubt I will keep the Kindle; I will be giving it to someone as a gift unless my wife falls in love with it. I will continue to read ebooks using eReader on the iPhone and iPad as it allows a lot more customization than the Kindle app.
I rate the Kindle a 7 out of 10 and thing it is good for someone interested in ebooks and not in gadgets.