I just completed reading my first Kindle ebook! It wasn’t my first ebook, but it was the first one that I’ve read on the Kindle platform. I say “platform” because I actually read the book on a Kindle 3 device, Android phone and Windows 7 PC. I read a majority of the book on the Kindle 3 device and read occasional short sections on the Android phone. I was on vacation without a PC, so I only used the PC when I returned home and wanted to review notes I had taken on the Kindle 3 device.
I see a number of advantages and disadvantages to reading ebooks on the Kindle platform, and there are some features I would really like to see.
- The Kindle 3 device is small, easy to carry and comfortable to hold.
- The Kindle 3 screen is very easy on the eyes.
- All three platforms, Kindle 3, Android & Windows, have adjustable text sizes
- Purchasing a book on a Kindle 3 device is insanely easy. In fact, if you have a version with 3G wireless capability, it is almost too easy to just click and buy!
- There is a long list of devices that have applications that can display Kindle books.
- A book purchased once can be read on all of the supported devices and applications. Even better, you can synchronize where you are in the book so that if you switch devices, the new device knows where you are.
- Bookmarks, notes and highlights made on one device are automatically synchronized with the rest of your devices. I found this feature extremely useful because I was able to take notes on the portable Kindle 3, then review the notes and copy them to Evernote on my PC.
- The text-to-speech capability works surprisingly well, given that it is still an experimental feature. We originally purchased the family Kindle 3 for the text-to-speech capability to help my son read particularly difficult books.
- Kindle does not support the standard EPUB format. EPUB books without digital rights management (DRM) can be converted to Kindle format, however.
- The Kindle format is not supported on non-Amazon devices or devices that don’t run the Amazon software. If you purchase a Kindle book, you won’t be able to transfer it to a device that lacks Amazon support.
- My local public library cannot loan books in Kindle format. My library uses OverDrive to power its ebook lending service. OverDrive says Kindle support is coming this year. I hope it is true! Update 21 Sep 2011: You can now borrow books from local libraries!
- The Kindle 3 device can only display a limited range of gray scale text and diagrams.
- The Android app currently does not allow note taking. Update 2 Sep 2011: Version 3.1.0 now supports note taking and highlighting.
- Evernote support on the Kindle device and Kindle apps. I have just started using Evernote in earnest and I would love to have a button to send a note I take to Evernote. I was able to copy individual notes from the Kindle PC application to the clipboard and then into Evernote, but it was cumbersome.
- An improved web browser. Amazon describes the browser on the Kindle 3 as experimental.
- A standard ebook format that will work on just about any ebook reading device or application. We have the MP3 format in the music world. Hopefully the day will come when we have the same thing in the ebook world.
Overall, I like the Kindle platform. Books are a breeze to purchase and easy to read on the Kindle device. Anyone who needs or wants to carry a lot of books will appreciate the Kindle device’s 3 Gbyte capacity. Likewise, anyone who would like to always have their current book with them can have it right on their smart phone. Even though Kindle is Amazon’s proprietary format, there are enough Kindle devices and applications available that I am sure I’ll be purchasing books for the Kindle platform in the future.