The thing about trees ... and my Kindle DX

I can summarize my thoughts on trees pretty succinctly, I love a good tree. And with that in mind I finally made the leap and bought my Amazon Kindle DX.

I can safely say that I am holding onto a little bit of the future, it is incredible. The things that drove me over the top to get the Kindle are:

  • I am VERY schizophrenic in my reading enjoyment, sometimes having as many as 4 books for reading open, 2 or 3 technical documents, and several large PDFs full of APIs
  • I received The Denver Post Thursdays through Sundays and didn't read it most of those days ... but never knew when I wanted it
  • I go through spurts of travel and I ALWAYS have the wrong book with me ... my moods swing notoriously when I'm traveling and what I want to read or learn about swings with it
  • I get tired of lugging power cords everywhere

And so my great Kindle DX experiment began, just about Father's Day (my gift to myself for being a single Dad with little or no time for book enjoyment).

First off, it is very, very easy to spend money with it ... albeit there is a discount on most books that you purchase for the Kindle. Oddly, this doesn't hold true for most Computer Books, they seem to be full price or near full price across the board. I've already purchased and read several books, including the amazing Darwin's Radio and Darwin's Children books from Greg Bear (conveniently in one "book" for the Kindle) and am now working on The Road and Anathem from Neil Stephenson. All bought sitting, literally, from the comfort of my bed or while camping. I have also downloaded quite a few work PDFs and presentations to it and receive The Denver Post electronically each day, automatically delivered.

Here's a hint on Anathem, I bet my back doesn't hurt from lugging it around and yours does :-) ... and guess what, I have a built-in dictionary so I can just move the cursor to a word and the definition appears on the bottom of the screen.

The downside of newspapers is that they are difficult to read and don't include the two best parts ... the comics and the ads. As such, I still recieve a Sunday Denver Post ... but my recycling bin has definitely went down in size.

When folks ask me about it, I put my Kindle experience rather succinctly:

  • Book Reading (fiction / non-fiction): A+ (as easy on the eyes as paper, easy to navigate, etc...)
  • Reference Literature that you Skip Around in: C (VERY difficult to skip around a book and "leaf through" the pages
  • Newspapers: B-
  • Ease of Use: B+
  • Ease of Shopping: B (I usually shop on a web browser rather than the built in store but if you know what you are buying, the built in store on the Kindle is easy enough)
  • Cost: C- (this has GOT to come down and I completely object to paying for blog subscriptions ... sorry Amazon and Slashdot, ain't gonna pad your profit margins)
  • Ease on the Eyes: A+ (as good as paper and my eyes don't get all wobbly like on a computer...I was literally reading under the covers so-as to not annoy my son at Scout Camp...and it's not backlit so I had my flashlight with me, it was just like when I was a kid!)
  • Portability: A+ (I have cut down the size of my backpack by half ... I still have to carry my Mac)

The power lasts FOREVER on the thing. Even with 3G on I plug it in at most once a week.

Now here is the BIGGEST complaint I have. Flying to San Francisco they SPECIFICALLY point out that your Kindle must be turned off. People, it barely uses power. Might I suggest you just ask folks to turn off the 3G on the Kindle instead?

I have even put all of our docs for the Sun Storage 7000 Appliance onto it for quick access at customer black or gray sites. Very handy to have along.

Now here is a tip for those of us who carry these around, you will have people tell you straight out that you are a heretic for abandoning "the feel of paper" and contributing to the "demise of the book" (Auntie, if you are reading this...this is for you :-). It is SIMPLY not true. In fact, there are a few things that actually seem to work for the author:

  • There is no after-market for a book, this is frustrating to me but as long as most books are discounted I am willing to deal with it for now. But consider, I can't resell a book that is on my e-reader and I understand that this is a slippery slope to create.
  • Personally, books, PDFs, and stuff like that contribute to about 30% of the clutter in my house and frankly, I'm not one to enjoy having bookshelves of the things I've read contributing to the dust in my environment...they are pretty much g-o-n-e
  • I've already saved multiple trees through e-news delivery and Anathem

But in the end, it's not for everyone. But after the end, the demise of the paper novel is nigh my friends, it may not be my generation but I guarantee that my son will be 50% e-books at least in his High School days, by college 75% and his children will not buy paper books, end of story.

I notice this post is exceeding the expected length, drop me a line if there is anything you want to know about!



it is interesting to read about such experiences. I'll probably wait a couple more years though.

About saving trees, paradoxically, it seems that buying things made of dead wood may actually help. Maintaining the forests is expensive, and often paid for by the sale of the dead wood.

Posted by Marc on July 03, 2009 at 07:10 AM MDT #

Marc, I agree ... on the surface the parallel of "saving wood" and not using paper seems obvious but it isn't. Consider the amount of power and resources that goes into making a Kindle and you are sort of stuck with the laws of mass production to help you out. And your thought on the dead wood is interesting, I sort of parallel that with tree farms ... the oxygen generated from a tree farm is beyond an old wood forest so in some ways, reusing nature in these farm patches is a good farming is similar.

Nonetheless, I am really enjoying it despite the complexity of the power equation. I certainly hope it lasts a LONG time to amortize the use of it ;-)

Posted by Paul Monday on July 03, 2009 at 09:37 AM MDT #

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