My dream has finally come true! Well, in all truth, it’s been true now for over a month, but it’s only now that I really have the leisure to write about it. Yes, I have a lovely new Kindle from Amazon and have been immersing myself in the glories of the E-Ink technology!
Those who know me are aware that I’ve switched to ebooks since 2004 with a variety of Devices starting with my Tungsten T, then my O2 and finally the iPod Touch. I’ve read hundreds of books on smartphone like devices, never bothering about the small screens (after all, it’s the font size that matters) and the less than stellar battery life. They still outdid physical books by a very long shot. Here were the reasons for switching to ebooks:
- Don’t need to carry around trunks of books
- Don’t need to maintain them
- Can carry thousands of books in my pocket
Till now however, devices like the Kindle were too expensive for a cheapo like me. Though I salivated over the latest Kindle from Amazon and the Sony Ereader, I simply couldn’t bring myself to purchase a device when my needs were already so well met by the iPod Touch.
But then came along a contest organized by the freelancing website where I work, oDesk.com which offered a Kindle as the first prize for a Haiku writing contest! I couldn’t resist and greedily submitted my Haikus which I was sure would win the prize. I looked forward to the day the results would be announced – so sure was I that mine would be the winning entry. Alas, when the day arrived I found to my consternation that I had come second and that my only prize was a T-shirt :(
I thought I’d lost the opportunity forever. Anupa (my wife) however, thought this the perfect time to surprise me with a new year’s gift. She thought my Haiku was better than the winning entry (and I secretly agreed with her :D), and decided that I deserved one of the few things in life that I actually wanted. So it arrived the next day, all wrapped up and beauuuuutiful!
Since then I’ve transferred my reading exclusively to the Kindle when I’m at home which I almost always am. My job as a freelancer doesn’t require me to travel out of the house and in these circumstances, the Kindle is perfect. On the rare occasions when I do leave the house for some reason, I still carry the iPod Touch with me for a quick mobile read. So why did I give up the iPod Touch for the Kindle? These were the main reasons:
- E-Ink technology allows me to read in full light without a glare
- The battery life is around 8,000 page turns! Around 2.5 books – perfect for a long flight
- Larger screen means more text on the page and fewer page turns
So far, it’s been an absolute ball reading on it. I’ve already polished off seven books or so with this neat device. Anupa even bundled a beautiful case for it. It now looks just like a regular thin book and only I know that it’s a one stop shop for all my reading needs. It basically saved my life on the 25-30 hr flight from Chicago to Frankfurt to Mumbai and finally to Chennai.
The only disappointment so far is that the famous “Whispernet” technology doesn’t work in Chennai though it’s supposed to. In Chicago, I was even able to browse the Internet at no charge and I’m supposed to be able to do the same in Chennai as well since Amazon claims coverage here too. It’ll be really cool if that works and would make it a killer device. It comes with a built in dictionary which is damn neat as well. The cursor allows you to navigate to difficult words and the definition automatically pops up. And the extra space at the bottom allows me to get a nice solid grip on it.
One can also read Tamil PDFs on the Kindle. There are some problems converting such PDFs to mobi and epub files, but the PDFs themselves can be transferred directly onto the Kindle and read with ease depending on the magnification which can be changed to make reading small fonts easier. The same is true for all Indian languages.
Another convenience is the fact that the “Next page” buttons are located on both the left as well as on the right. So if my right hand is busy, I can still turn the pages. Perfect for eating and reading at the same time :D . Okkkk, I just realized that sounds really perverted, but the sentence stands!
Of course, I’m hardly a model customer for Amazon who expects me to log into their website from the Kindle and purchase books from them. No siree. Instead I download books onto my PC and use the super duper open source program Calibre to transfer the books onto the Kindle. I’m now reading “Of Human Bondage” by Somerset Maugham and have Isaac Asimov’s entire Foundation Series lined up for my reading pleasure! Going by all this, it’s not surprising that I’m a very happy man :)
For those of us living in India, you can order the Kindle from Amazon for an equivalent for Rs. 16,000 or so. The US price of $250 is increased by the customs duty in India. Still, not too bad I would say all things considered. I suppose we should be glad they’re shipping it at all. But if you can get a friend of yours to pick it up in the US and simply give it to you when he or she lands, that would save you some Rs. 4,000 . May or may not be worth it for you. If you do decide to order it from India itself, keep an eye out for unscrupulous delivery men who will try and take money from you just as they deliver it claiming import fees. Take the Kindle away from them first (by pretending to agree) and then ask them for a receipt and a bill. And then call their delivery company and report them.
I’m sure in a few years, ereaders will come out in full force into the Indian market. I’m looking forward to improvements and innovations, and most importantly, cheaper prices as well!