Adventures into the Madness

Do you Like it? – The Kindle Experience or “iPhone vs. Kindle”


I’ve been dragging my Kindle2 around with me everywhere and everyone who figures out what it is I’m reading on and poking at asks me the same question:  Do you like it?

To which I enthusiastically answer, “Yes!”

But the question I feel like everyone is actually asking is:  Should I get one?

“Do you like it?” is a good place to ask someone who has one, but here’s the thing – who is “you”?  Because the Kindle is one of those tools that isn’t quite for everyone.

“I” am a person who enjoys gadgets and has no trouble figuring out UI quirks and how to make things work.  I am also a big reader, although I would not describe myself as “avid”.  I also possess the quirky trait of liking to read my favorite books and stories over and over and over.  There are several books on my shelf that have been worn out and replaced not once, but twice.  I read a lot of word documents and have very much enjoyed being able to import them.  I like newspaper articles, but hate, hate, HATE the giant, dead tree format.  The Kindle is a good fit and a good tool for how and what and why I read.

The thing I have been most surprised by is how well the Kindle mimics the book reading experience.  The page width, fonts and screen tones feel so familiar that I actually found myself lifting my hands to “turn” a page several times before I remembered that the button turns it instead.  My brain was tricked into that familiar pattern.  Observations like this have changed my assumption that the Kindle is for early adopter, geeky types who aren’t necessarily avid readers.  I would now, firmly, say that the people who would like it best are avid readers who are just techy enough to appreciate the storage capabilities and savvy enough to download books (which is easy).  Its target market really is the devoted “reader”.

This is probably why there are negative reviews out there that bemoan the Kindle’s lack of multi-functionality and internet features.  While these are valid comments, they are features that aren’t important to the target market, and in fact would sabotage some of the “experience” that Amazon is deliberately imitating.  Amazon has it’s work cut out because its target market are bookworms who are also probably the most resistant to changing their reading habits.  The techy folks who are most likely to adopt new tools for the fun of it are also going to be looking for the most multifunctionality and be disappointed by the Kindle.

It’s sort of a cat-person or dog-person kind of thing with the Kindle existing in the marketing equivalent of that creepy Nickelodeon character Catdog.  Which are you?

In my house, we have one of each of the above.  I’m the Kindle-type, who loves the classy screen and is happily adapting my “curling up with a book” moments into “curling up with the Kindle”.  My husband is uber-geek, techno of the day type.  His love affair with his iPhone prompted the creation of family rules about bringing it to the dinner table which the four year old happily enforces.  (DADDY!  NO TOYS AT SUPPER! <insert ferocious glare and hands on hips>)

While I would enjoy an iPhone, I would waste most of its capacity for geekdom with simple indifference.  Hubby admits that he is very impressed with the Kindle as a reading tool and loves the idea of finding another way to fill his brain with stuff.  But since all of the content he digests on a daily basis is produced (almost) exclusively on the internet, the Kindle would need to beef up its web browsing and blog downloading UI.  In truth, it may get there, but is not so now for the likes of him.  (And it doesn’t have a LOL Cats app.)

So…does this mean I like it?  Yes.  I like it.  Should you get one?  I can’t tell you that.  Hopefully the above will point you towards the followup questions you should ask of yourself.

posted under Frants
One Comment to

“Do you Like it? – The Kindle Experience or “iPhone vs. Kindle””

  1. On April 30th, 2009 at 4:14 pm coyote Says:

    I would love to see a combination iPhone/kindle. I love the epaper appearance, but would really like it if it could really animate. Color would be nice too (I like comics.) That said, I do love reading the NYTimes every morning. It took about a month before I stopped worrying about touching the beautiful white kindle with inky fingers. (See, I was reading the NYT, so I expected to have inky fingers.)

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