I must be one of the first people to get a Kindle 2 in my book-loving hands and return it the same day. Namely, yesterday.
Amazon sent me my order for its upgraded electronic reading device much more quickly than I expected. I'd been leaning toward canceling my purchase, but figured I had some time to do the deed, since Amazon said it was giving preferential Kindle 2 treatment to owners of Kindle 1.
So after I got an email saying my Kindle was on its way, all I could do was wait for its arrival. I felt sort of sorry for it after the UPS guy dropped off the box. Came all this way and now I was sending it back, unwanted.
And I'm sure the device itself is as cool as its many satisfied users say it is. I was glad that Amazon's zipped-up packaging didn't allow me to slip the Kindle out and give it a try, because I was afraid that my gadget-loving soul would irrationally scream "Keep it!"
Here are the main reasons I decided to send the Kindle 2 back:
(1) There's nothing like a real book.
I love my MacBook laptop. And my iPhone. Reading on a screen feels natural to me. But only for transient information. Email messages, web browsing, stuff that comes and goes.
I read mostly non-fiction. I keep almost all of my books, partly because I'm a habitual highlighter and used book stores shun my heavily yellow-marked pages. Every morning I read before I meditate. Most recently, a book that I'd read and re-read.
I loved looking at the artifacts of my previous readings.
Originally I'd highlighted in green, then yellow. I'd written notes on the inside back cover. I'd penned in question marks next to statements I disagreed with and round approving circles next to sentences that brought forth a right on.
I realize that the Kindle has some sort of highlighting and note-making features. But it dawned on me that this wouldn't be the same as holding a book with paper pages and marking it up the way I'm used to.
Plus, with the Kindle I wouldn't be able to go to a bookcase and fun my finger along the spines of previously read titles, looking for an old friend that I wanted to become reacquainted with.
(2) The cost savings don't pan out.
First, there's the steep $359 cost of the Kindle itself.
At first I rationalized forking out that amount of money because most e-books for the Kindle on Amazon cost around $10. With the list price of hardcovers running much more than that, seemingly the Kindle would pay for itself.
But I don't read a whole lot of newly released books. And when I checked into a few books featured in a recent issue of Newsweek, I realized that copies usually were available for less than the cost of a Kindle version.
For example the Kindle edition of "Nudge" costs $10.88, while new paper copies are available from non-Amazon sellers for $7.75. Even with shipping, I could have a "real" book for about the same price as an electronic book.
Further, many of the books I like aren't available for the Kindle. Including one I wrote.
I asked my book designer about a Kindle edition. He was down on the idea, saying that he has never seen a book that looks decent on the Kindle, and complexly formatted books like mine are especially difficult to covert to a Kindle edition.
So I've decided to stick with my practice of ordering used books from Amazon whenever I can. Often I find that I can get a new $17 book in a used "like new" condition for $7 or so, shipping included.
(3) The technology needs to be even cooler to grab me.
Some techno-stuff I hear about and instantly say, "I've got to have it!" Like, the iPhone and the Flip Video camcorder. The Kindle...I've been going hot and cold with it.
Having settled into lukewarm, that isn't reason enough to add $359 to our VISA bill for something that doesn't elicit a strong Wow in me.