I got my first I got my first Kindle last week, and have been toying around with it a little ever since. It is a very provocative little device, one of those technologies that--for all its imperfections--makes you realize that a whole new set of possibilities are just around the corner. I jotted down a few loosely connected thoughts and observations:
1. The iPhone interface has become so second-nature that a handheld device without a touch UI seems simply broken. It just seems inane to use the little joystick to drive the cursor up and down the screen to select a word or a paragraph.
2. I'm not crazy about the e-ink screen. I love the zero-power idea, but it's just a little too gray-on-gray for my tastes. The blacks aren't black enough and the whites aren't white enough. (Something about it reminds me of the output from my old ImageWriter, back in the days before laser printers.) But I may be an outlier here, because my eyes don't really get strained looking at LCD screens, and I gather one of the key selling points of the Kindle is the reduced eyestrain.
3. Because of my research methods, I am obsessed with an easy mechanism for grabbing a paragraph or two from a book and getting onto my computer so that I can archive it in Devonthink. The Kindle has a very simple mechanism for this that works great, though selecting the text would be much easier with a touchscreen.
4. Buying a book through the store is absolutely magical. One-click, wait thirty seconds, and you're reading. I bought and downloaded a book on the F train, during the three minutes it goes above ground over the Gowanus Canal. Wicked cool. (Incidentally, the device comes pre-loaded with all your Amazon account information -- there is zero setup in terms of entering user names, etc. At first I was startled by this, but then it all made sense: by definition, I'm buying the Kindle with my Amazon account -- why shouldn't that info be loaded onto the device automatically?)
5. I bought a Times subscription -- even though I already pay for the print edition -- because the convenience of having the Times permanently loaded on my Kindle seemed well worth an extra fifteen bucks. Haven't started paying for blogs yet, but I can imagine with one-click simplicity that I'll do that as well. If micropayments for content ever takes off -- the whole iTunes for News model -- I suspect it'll come in through the back door of the Kindle.
6. No pages numbers! They have "location" numbers instead, because pages don't really exist in the Kindle, given that you can resize the type with two quick taps on the keyboard. There's a small question here about how you cite a passage from a Kindle e-book, but I think it begs a larger, and more interesting question about standardizing page references in all e-books -- including Google Books for instance. (I'm going to write a longer piece on this...)
7. When he was on John Stewart, Jeff Bezos mentioned that the Kindle was great for one-handed reading, which got a salacious chuckle from the audience (and Stewart), but I think it's best for no-handed reading: i.e., when you're reading while eating a meal, one of life's great pleasures. It's almost impossible to read a paperback while eating, and you really have to snap the spine of a hardcover to get it to lie flat, but the Kindle just sits there on the table helpfully while you cut up your teriyaki.
8. There's an Kindle for iPhone app as of yesterday. I've spent about five minutes playing with it, but it's pretty sweet, and the integration between the devices is very clever. More to say on that when I've had a bit more time to explore.