I’ve had the new Amazon Kindle in my possession for over a month now and have still managed not to spend a cent on ebooks or any other content, yet I use it every day. Initially I had signed up to the Irish Times subscription free trial, but quickly realised that paying €16 per month for content that was free online was a little silly.
Thanks to the online application Instapaper (works in your browser via a bookmarklet – even works with Safari for iPhone and the Twitter for iPhone app) instead I am able to queue up articles I wish to read later in a Kindle friendly format. This applies to all the online content I come across and many of the industry specific blogs I am subscribed to publish very long articles that I usually don’t have time to read during the work day (or go cross eyed trying to read them on my computer screen).
The Kindle friendly file you end up with is split into sections (one for each article) and can even handle images, and hyperlinks – so if you’re reading an article that mentions a secondary associated article you can click that link and the Kindle browser will open, you can even switch to “Article Mode” in this browser, and the Kindle will autofocus on the text content for you. Though I’m certainly not blown away by the “experimental” browser, it’s obvious that surfing the web is not something the Kindle was designed for.
With Instapaper I queue up blog posts, newspaper articles and more and then at the end of the day (or sometimes at lunchtime) I download the Kindle friendly file, transfer it to the Kindle using the USB cable and then have a great read, with no distractions, almost like having a highly personalised magazine in front of me. Admittedly it’s very relaxing, and I have no desire to tweet or check my email, so I’m not skimming anymore, instead I absorb the information I’m reading and feel like I’m really getting worth out of the content and not wasting my time.
Kindle vs iPad?
I’m doubtful it would be the same experience with something like the iPad, because reading on the Kindle is an absolute pleasure. I certainly don’t get as tired as quickly when reading on the Kindle in comparison to trying to read a long document on the iPhone or laptop. However, for those of you without a Kindle but with an iPhone there is the Instapaper app for iPhone which makes reading on your iPhone screen that much easier, there is an iPad version of Instapaper too, but I’ll be sticking to my Kindle!
The e-ink screen on the Kindle is incredibly close to reading on paper, but the key factor in how good the Kindle is to read on is the fact that it’s not backlit, so there is no glare when the sun shines on the screen and it won’t keep you awake at night. I’ve written here before about how the bright light of electronic screens suppresses the production of our sleep hormone melatonin, thus making them unsuitable for bedtime use. The readability of the Kindle in low lighting is comparable to that of a paper book, you will certainly need a book light if you plan on reading in low light, but this is preferable to the inability to sleep after using one.
The other great thing about the Kindle is how it’s cut down on paper/printing costs, instead of printing out long drafts of work documents they’re read on the Kindle and I write my feedback into my moleskin. Overall, I feel that it has increased my productivity and I’ve even started reading for pleasure again, by picking up a number of free classic books in ebook format via the Free eBooks by Project Gutenberg website.