My Kindle and Me: A Year Down the Line

kindle-2Let’s start with my first disclaimer:  I paid for my Kindle.

Here’s the second:  I am in this whole ebook thing for the convenience – not to mention a desperate desire to be free of the careless shelving habits of brick and mortar stores that drove me crazy for years.

I’m not a techie (Mac person, so don’t have to be) and, while I don’t like DRM, I’m not worked up about it either.  My blog – and my perspective – is one of a reader who lives in an area with 3G coverage and who simply wanted an easy way to read ebooks.  For me, Kindle is it.

Since I’ve been Kindle-ized for about a year now, what do I love?

  • Instant downloads.  When I want a book, I have it – seconds later.
  • It’s easy on the eyes.  And I’ve spent hours (and hours) looking at the screen.
  • It’s comfortable and easy to hold.
  • I can read manuscripts and PDF files without waiting for snail mail copies.
  • It’s incredibly user-friendly.  Getting it up and running initially was a piece of cake and downloading books is instant.
  • The Kindle app for my iPhone. Since my iPhone is surgically attached to my body, I’m literally never without a book.
  • Instant downloads.  (Did I mention that already?)

What don’t I love?

  • It’s frustrating when backlist books aren’t available.  (St. Martin’s seems to be especially bad about this.)
  • Sometimes the pricing is screwy.  And, for the record, I will not pay more for an ebook than a print copy. I will so not go there, in fact, that I didn’t even do it for Lisa Kleypas’ Tempt Me at Twilight, initially priced at $9.99 for Kindle and $7.99 for paperback.  So, after waiting a week or so for the “mistake” to shake out, I bought the paperback.  Only to find that the Kindle price was lower just days later.  Word has it that publishers set ebook prices and I think we have to allow some time for them – and Amazon – to get the kinks out.  Something like the Kleypas debacle doesn’t happen often, but when it’s a book you want, it’s frustrating.
  • Monopolies.  Never a good thing.  Though I also have to say that I haven’t generally found pricing to be a problem or out of line with other sites (frequently, it’s actually lower at the Kindle store), but I’d like to be able to shop elsewhere.  But, considering how frustrated I was with my local Borders, this is nothing – and I mean nothing – in comparison.
  • Expense.  There’s just no getting around the fact that Kindle – and its competitors – require a substantial upfront investment.

I’ve seen posts in which people nail Amazon for poor Kindle customer service, but my sole experience with the one problem I had was exactly the opposite.  A book failed to download, so I called Amazon.  The phone was answered immediately and within five minutes my problem was solved.  Can’t ask for more than that.

I’m aware of all the questions arising from Kindle going global.  If I lived outside the U.S. and was ready to get on the ebook express, I’d give it a little time for everything to shake out.  I wish, along with one of our message board posters, that it was as easy for everyone as it is for me.

There seems to be a lot of mistrust about Amazon out there and, I have to say, this consumer doesn’t feel it.  They’re out to make money.  Which is what corporations do in America.  (And in Japan, too, BTW.)

So, that’s my non-techie reaction to my Kindle one year out of the gate.  Is it perfect?  No. Is it something I use and am glad to have almost every single day?  Abso-flipping-lutely.

Disclaimer time again:  If you buy a Kindle using the link here or the one you’ll find elsewhere on the site, AAR will receive a small commission.  However, we get no commissions from ebook sales at the Kindle store, though we do receive them for sales of print books.

– Sandy AAR

29 thoughts on “My Kindle and Me: A Year Down the Line

  1. I have had my Kindle for five months. I absolutely love it. Everyone that I have spoke to about the Kindle loves it. My husband bought it for me to cut down on the clutter of books coming and going through the house. I wanted it for several reasons.

    1. I live in a small town and have to drive at least 30 mins to get to a real bookstore. Lets face it, while Wal Mart has a decent selection of books they don’t carry everything.

    2. I purchase a lot of books online, this saves me money in delivery charges.

    3. The convenience of being able to travel with lots of books and not have the added weight or extra bag to carry them all in.

    4. It is super simple to use. Ok I haven’t quite figured out the foot note that can be added to what you are reading, but I haven’t really tried.

    5. I can purchase ebooks from any site as long as they are in PDF. But Love the added convenience of the automatic download from Amazon.

    I too had a problem with the downloading of a book. I called CS and the problem was fixed very quickly and easily. As a matter of fact it is probably something I could have figured out on my own if I had taken the time to think about resetting it.

    The only thing I really don’t like about it… there isn’t a light that I can turn on to read at night. I have to have the book light, but no biggie. Instead of buying the one Amazon offers I found that my $4 one works just fine. It actually works better on the Kindle than it did on regular books.

    So yeah I say the Kindle Rocks!!

  2. I have had a Kindle for a little over a year. My experience mirrors yours. I love the ease of use, and the instant downloads. I had one small problem downloading a book and customer service solved it within 5 minutes. I also get frustrated when an authors back list is not available, but this seems to be improving. I use my Kindle daily and absolutely love it!

  3. I’ve had my Kindle for little over a year, and I’ve found that I’m reading more. I confess to lusting after the DX model, but unless they come out with a cheaper price tag, I’m just going to have to keep lusting.

    On the other side of the fence – Amazon has made it extremely easy for me to put my reverted titles on Kindle. A few clicks and it’s done.

  4. Ditto to everything everyone has said! I have had my Kindle for 18 months and never for one minute regretted my purchase. I have also had very prompt and efficient dealings with Amazon CS so have no complaints there. My device performs flawlessly and the battery continues to hold its charge for a long time. It has solved my book storage problem and is wonderful for reading away from home. I’d be lost without it.

    I sometimes get frustrated with pricing and publication dates of ebooks but that is a publisher’s problem, not Amazon’s, so I can’t blame it on them. I am hoping that the whole epublishing “system” works out its kinks soon much like the music download industry did. I am willing to cut them some slack since it is a new industry. In the end, I am able to eventually find almost all of what I am looking for in new books, and backlist books are being added to the Kindle store regularly. My fantasy is that every book – new and old – will be available in an ebook format.

  5. I’ve had my Kindle for 5 months and just love to bring it on trips, knowing I will have a multitude of ebooks to read without having the added weight or bulk of regular books. I can even load audiobooks on it, and leave my MP3 at home. Or not.

    I was a little put out a week ago when the Kindle Global came out, since I do travel abroad annually. If I had known, I could have waited and gotten it cheaper than what I paid for in April. However, after reading the Kindle blog, I am glad that I did not because books bought/downloaded abroad may cost more (blame the publishers, not Amazon), plus there is an added charge of $2 per download. There was even something about being charged again for downloading books previously bought in the US. Ugh! Hey, I can load all the books I want while in country and spare myself the extra cost.

    FYI for those thinking of purchasing: Kindle II cannot be upgraded to Kindle Global by a firmware update. U.S-only Kindle uses a Sprint CDMA radio. The new International version uses a AT&T GSM modem.

    I am glad the Amazon is investing in improving Kindle. I can at least count on continuing support and content as time goes on.

  6. Just realized that Kindle is available in Canada now!!! I wish I could actually see one to determine if it is everything I imagine it too be.

    A quick question to those who currently have one – I have a huge library of ebooks on my computer. Can I use the usb and transfer these books to my kindle and secondly, can you increase the storage space (I think it holds 1500 books)?

    Thank you,

    Tara

  7. I received my Kindle as a birthday gift in February. I travel 90% of the year and I love it. The best part is no one knows I’m reading smut.

  8. Hi, Tara,

    I admit I am not a kindle owner. Instead I have a Sony reader which is the sony digital book tool and a competitor of the Amazon kindle. That being said I am a great fan of digital books for all of the reasons said in the earlier messages and am really sorry that my reader does not allow for wireless access like the kindle does. There is talk that sony will offer a wireless reader later this year but it has not happened yet. However, i did want to give you some information that i saw on several review sites (PC World etc) that discussed the differences between the kindle and other formats. One indicated that the conversion of ebooks from a non-kindle format to kindle was somewhat problematic and that the storage space could not be expanded on the kindle which can be done on the Sony reader. I have not had direct experience with a kindle myself but I just wanted to pass that information on to you.

  9. BL,

    I love your “the best part is that no one knows I am reading smut” comment. :) I can load all kinds of books from non-fiction to mysteries to romance onto my reader and read several books simultaneously as my heart desires. It is truly great. I, too, received my reader as a birthday present and I still tell everyone that it is the best gift my family ever gave me!

  10. I too have had my Kindle for a year. Got it as a gift last year for my birthday. I recently graduated to the Kindle DX. I LOVE my Kindle. I too am no techie. And I still love to go to bookstores to browse the stacks with a cup of coffee. I got it to cut down on the clutter. Originally I was apprehensive not knowing how it would be to stare at a screen all the time. It has been no problem for me. I want a book, I get it. Currently, I have 183 books downloaded and am reading three simultaneously.

    That said, I agree with others who have complained about the unavailability of older books. And I figured out the pricing scheme awhile ago due to previous experiences. So when Tempt Me At Twilight came out, I didn’t immediately download it because I had a feeling the price would go down and it did. And when the new Elizabeth Hoyt comes out, again I won’t download it immediately to see what happens with the price.

    I also enjoy reading SMUT :) or Erotica or really hot romance books, whatever you want to call it. And it’s my business and no one elses. I don’t have to contend with trying to hide those godawful covers with the swooning big-breasted women and the headless male torsos. I’m not ashamed to admit I read romance but I am too often embarrassed by the covers. That is another story …

  11. To: Tara from NS
    RE: Book Storage Capacity

    One unique feature of the Kindle is that Amazon will “store” your books for you so you do not need to take up space on your Kindle for storing your entire library. You can move books to and from Amazon with just one click – very simple process. I move books I have read off my Kindle to Amazon leaving me with a more manageable TBR collection on the device itself.

  12. I’ve had my Kindle for 1 1/2 years, and still love it. The ease of downloading books continues to be a major factor I enjoy, as well as the ability to carry many, many books with me at all times. Last spring I was very ill for about 6 weeks, two of which I spent in the hospital. I was an emergency admit to the hospital, and didn’t happen to have my Kindle with me (never happen again). I was lost for a couple days, until a friend brought me my Kindle. I immediately began to purchase, and download every comfort read I could think of. That Kindle got me through a horrible time. (oh, and I purchased my Kindle, and all downloaded books, myself).

  13. I’ve been thinking about either the Sony or Kindle for over a year, but can’t make myself sacrifice the cost from my book budget.

  14. Tara from NS: A quick question to those who currently have one – I have a huge library of ebooks on my computer. Can I use the usb and transfer these books to my kindle and secondly, can you increase the storage space (I think it holds 1500 books)?

    Tara, if you check Kindle Help you can find a more detailed answer.

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=200375630&#email

    Begin reading at: ‘Sending Personal Documents to Kindle ‘

    The short answer is yes, you can move your e-books to Kindle for a small fee (direct download) or for free (download to your PC through e-mail). There are size and format restrictions, etc – refer to the help.

    I have used this feature for my Kindle II and have had no problems with MS Word. However, since the PDF conversion is only an experimental feature on Kindle II, not all my PDF e-books converted. If I had a Kindle DX, I would not have had this problem.

    Once you have purchased a book on Amazon, you can download it over and over again for free, so you won’t have to store these on your Kindle.

    This is not true for your converted personal documents. Amazon does not store these anywhere, so if you delete them from your device, they are gone. However, if you have saved them on your PC, you can download them again thru the USB port.

    Hopes this helps.

  15. Laurie: Laurie says:
    October 16, 2009 at 7:48 pm
    I too have had my Kindle for a year. Got it as a gift last year for my birthday. I recently graduated to the Kindle DX.

    Laurie, could you expound on the differences in use between the regular Kindle and the Kindle DX?

    My husband wanted to purchase the DX for the ease of use he would have with PDF documents, but we weren’t sure if its size would be a problem.

    We were thinking it would be like a hardback vs. paperback. The hardback is less comfortable to read over a period of time because of its size and weight.

    Thanks.

  16. @Jean Wan: Thanks for the link.

    I was really interested in a user’s point of view when reading the 2 devices over a long period of time. Is the DX cumbersome due to its size? Can you hold it in one hand comfortably? Etc.

  17. MarissaB – As a user of the standard Kindle and now the Kindle DX the increased size was not much of a problem. I like the larger screen. I find I can hold it in one hand comfortably but tend to use both hands to use the controls. It only weighs about 8 ounces more than the standard Kindle. The feature I do like is the rotating display, i.e., you can rotate from portrait to landscape for newspapers, documents etc. and I enjoy that feature. I feel the battery also lasts longer before needing a recharge – especially if you turn the wireless off – it goes on forever. That being said, I had the first Kindle and my sister has the new generation of the standard 6″ Kindle and that looks wonderful too. I only got the DX as a gift – probably wouldn’t have bought it on my own and would have stayed with the standard model.

    Also, had I known they were going global I probably would have immediately returned it and paid extra myself to get the international model – I spend a great deal of time in the U.K. and think that feature would have come in handy.

  18. I’ve had my Kindle 2 since late February and LOVE IT. I haven’t found a negative yet. I think I’ve made back my purchase price in free books and lower prices. My husband would tell you I’ve increased my book buying x4, *smile*. I read more and I think I read faster. Do you know about The Kindle Chronicles? It’s a weekly podcast of all things Kindle by a non-Amazon person. I listen to it every week.

  19. @Laurie – Thanks for the review. That is exactly what I wanted. Hubby is still thinking. $489 is a lot. Maybe they’ll go on sale?

  20. I thought I would HATE kindle, but I bought one anyway. Mostly to prove to myself how much I would hate it…I had money then…shut up. Anyway, I LOVE IT, love it so much. I can take it anywhere and read whatever I want, and the only interruption I get is from people going “is that a…kindle!!!!!omgsqueeee!”

  21. I just got a Kindle for my b-day a couple weeks ago and I LOVE IT. I actually like it more than I thought I would. I don’t know how I’m going to read the books I’ve got on the shelves because I don’t want to read anything that’s not on my Kindle.

    I wonder if anyone else has experienced what I have on two occasions. At a get together I was telling a friend about my great b-day gift and an acquaintance there went off “I HATE the Kindle…books should be made of paper, you should be able to get them in a library, in books you turn pages and they should have a smell…blah, blah” I was stunned at her vehemence. Just a few days ago a family membered challeneged me to tell her what I liked about it, what made it better than a book. She said it wouldn’t be a book to her if she couldn’t turn the pages. On both occassions I found myself having to defend my Kindle. Anyone else?

  22. Ang, I hear that a lot! I used to try to convince nay-sayers but they don’t want to be convinced. Now I just smile and say “I used to think the same thing”. They usually don’t know how to respond, lol. Enjoy!

  23. Ang, I actually hear just the opposite. Most people who see it are just mesmerized and want to know how it works. Most of them then tell me how they love to read and would really enjoy having a Kindle. As for naysayers, I just usually say that I travel alot (which I do) and I can’t take 10 books along in my luggage to read – well, I probably could but it’s too much of a pain. Then I let them know that I have 183 books downloaded onto the Kindle or stored in the Amazon library which I can choose from at any time. That generally quiets them down.

  24. I’ve been reading and enjoying everyone’s comments. Just wanted to pop in and say to Ang and Laurie: I hear both. All the time.

  25. Tara from NS: Just realized that Kindle is available in Canada now!!! I wish I could actually see one to determine if it is everything I imagine it too be.A quick question to those who currently have one – I have a huge library of ebooks on my computer. Can I use the usb and transfer these books to my kindle and secondly, can you increase the storage space (I think it holds 1500 books)?Thank you,Tara

    Well, it depends what format the books are in. If they are PDF or MOBI/PRC, then the Kindle reads them natively so you can just connect and drag. If they are another format like EPUB, then you can just convert them to PDF or MOBI/PRC using Calibre. Whatever they are, you will need to ensure that they are DRM-free.

  26. My husband and I have shared a Kindle for over a year now and we both enjoyed it. I won’t buy or check out print books that have inappropriate covers due to having children and teens in the house. Unfortunately, even non-smutty romance books often have overly suggestive covers (or titles…what’s with that?). If the book is available on Kindle, it solves the problem for me. However, I do get frustrated at times about what’s NOT on the Kindle..many older books. Being a fairly new romance reader (used to read only non-fiction, mystery, and fantasy), I have a lot of catching up to do, and would love to do it with the Kindle.

    That said, I prefer paper and ink books overall. I’m one of those who enjoys going back and rereading favorite passages of a book, and find that cumbersome on the Kindle. I have to remember to bookmark the spot if I think I’m going to want to come back to it. Also, sometimes I don’t know I’ll need to come back to it. Maybe it’s age, but I often find myself needing to reread sections because I didn’t pick up on some important piece of information, or I forget the relationship of the characters, or am confused about the time line. This is when the Kindle is frustrating for me. It takes forever to find the page(s) I need when I am trying to check facts or re-read scenes in the book for clarity.

    Overall, however, I think the Kindle is a great addition to my library! ;-)

  27. As an owner of a new/used bookstore, I am very interested in this topic. I wonder the effects these e-readers will have on my store. I am interested in the buyers attitudes. Sandy, I am sorry you do not like bookstores but I have customers that love my store and are in there every week. Do you that own these readers still buy paper copies of books? What do you feel is the future of brick and mortar stores? I have over 100,000 books in my store and 90% of my sales are fiction of all genres. (By the way, I won a Sony Reader 2 years ago but have never used it)

  28. I am new at the whole e-book thing, so I don’t have any clue whether I should buy the kindle or not, but your views are greatly appreciated. I am a teenager living in the Caribbean, and it is very hard to wait a couple of months EVERY time a new book comes out that is not quite famous (e.g. Twilight). I hate the wait so I have switch to buy books e-books online but the bank hassles is too much, especially because it’s my parents money. Not to mention I have to have the money changed into US dollars- US dollars are worth $6.00 here. I have a question that I do not feel is answered fully by amazon. I want to know the answer before I buy the Kindle International. I have over 50 e-books, how can I transfer it to the kindle- it’s in Microsoft Word- and I don’t know that much about computers.

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