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Reflections from a Kindle owner

Back in April I got a Kindle for my birthday. It’s changed my tech-life massively, and I thought I’d write a few words on that here, from a developer’s perspective.

(Disclaimer: the Amazon links in this blog post are Amazon Affiliate links, which means I get a percentage of any sales resulting from you following them. If you don’t feel I deserve that percentage, then feel free to go to amazon.co.uk or amazon.com [non-affiliate links] and I’m sure Amazon will be happy to help you find a Kindle.)

Books

I now read most books on my Kindle. In many ways it’s a better experience than a paper book – it’s much lighter than the average programming book, I can rest it on my leg without having to hold it open, turning pages is easier, and with a cover with built-in light I can read in the dark (e.g. I can read in bed without waking up my girlfriend).

It does have its downsides in comparison to a paper book as well – navigating between different spots isn’t as seamless/natural, even with hyperlinks; code listings often wrap (I usually view these in landscape mode, but even then it’s often not enough); it’s significantly more valuable than a book, so I need to take a lot more care with it; some nuances of book formatting don’t always make it through the conversion; and although it’s got a massive battery life, that’s still a consideration.

When I’m buying a new book online now though, I don’t hesitate to get the Kindle version (if it’s available). The benefits far outweigh the downsides.

Magazines

I’ve been wanting to read the Prag Pub magazines for a long time now, but I don’t like to sit in my computer and leaf through PDFs (and I certainly didn’t want to print them all out onto paper). Luckily, they’re all available for free download in Kindle format, so over the past few months I’ve gradually been catching up with the back issues. It’s a great magazine and I’d highly recommend it, whatever your e-reader of choice.

Blogs and essays

Instapaper is an essential tool for any Kindle owner. It gives you a “Read Later” bookmarklet, which enables you to mark any article to be read later. You can then tell Instapaper to deliver a collection of your unread articles to your Kindle regularly, for free! This has made such a difference to me. I come across so much good material online that I want to read, through Google Reader and Twitter, but when I’m at the computer I don’t just want to sit there reading blog after blog. Having those interesting articles delivered to my Kindle automatically means I don’t need to think at all – I can just read them when I feel like it.

In the same vein, I use Instapaper to catch up on older essays, such as Paul Graham’s massive collection or Steve Yegge’s drunken blog rants, that I’ve been wanting to read for a long time.

Free 3G

What a tongue-twister. It’s amazing though – if you get the 3G version, Amazon give you free web access, wherever you are. FREE. It still astounds me. It’s not particularly fast, and looks pretty ugly, but it works. For looking stuff up on Wikipedia it’s great.

Conclusion

If you’ve got an e-reader, or something e-reader-like, e.g. an iPhone/iPad/Android something, I’m not going to tell you you need a Kindle as well. Maybe you do, maybe you don’t. But for those that don’t have any way of reading electronic material away from a computer, I’d highly recommend getting one. It might change your life :)

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  1. September 4th, 2011 at 15:31 | #1

    Great article Nick! I tried Instaprint today and I love it. I like reading on the Kindle much more than sitting at my computer (because I already spend too much time at the computer).

  2. September 4th, 2011 at 15:39 | #2

    @Pauline Thanks! It’s such a better an experience isn’t it? I can still remember the first time I saw a Kindle (it was yours or Steve’s) – I knew I had to have one :)

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