I'm thinking about getting a Kindle, and I thought I'd write down some thoughts, even if they're a bit jumbled, and invite commentary.
One thing I really like, living here in Italy, is that I would be able to get English language books instantaniously, and not pay shipping or import duties on them. Whatever disadvantages there may be, that is a huge advantage.
Closely tied to that: if we ever move back to the US, shipping all our books will be very expensive. Having some of them in an electronic format would lighten that load considerably.
It's fairly cheap. At $180, it's not something I'd want to treat carelessly, but it's significantly less expensive than various existing tables.
Long battery life means it's not something you have to worry much about.
E-ink looks like it's easier on the eyes than LCD screens. I'm not sure, but also its slow update speed might be a "feature not a bug" in the sense that you're not so easily distracted by the internet being just one click away.
I love having real, physical books in my house. I grew up in a house full of books, and I want the same thing for my daughter. I like being able ot look through them, pick one up, and read about something.
Real books are very convenient, as long as you're not lugging around hundreds of them. I like not having to worry too much about dropping them, about getting a bit of water on one or that sort of thing. You can cart them around in a backpack with little worry, take them to the beach, and so on.
As far as I can tell, Knuth's books are not available for, nor would appear like they do on paper. That's the golden standard for me: once "The Art of Computer Programming" looks good on an e-reader, it will be really and truly ready. We're not there yet.
It's not general purpose. Like I said above, maybe this is good for reading, but there are also times when it'd be nice to have a general purpose device, with email, maps, applications, and so on.
A while back, Amazon announced some sort of beta program for a kindle SDK. I haven't heard much of anything since. So it looks like it's not really possible to code for it, which is a bit disappointing. I like to have that option available, even if I don't always exercise it.
The pricing: sometimes Kindle versions are cheaper (especially, in my case, considering shipping, and, potentially, import duties), but sometimes they aren't, which seems a bit unfair, given that you cannot sell the book if you don't like it. I'm not sure how it would work out for me in the aggregate.
Digital Rights Management, or DRM, means you can't, say, sell someone a "used" ebook. This is, in some ways, understandeable, because it's not like an e-book degrades with time as a physical one might. Were it possible to sell on your old books, that might radically change the market. I could see that having both good consequences (cheaper books), but also negative ones for authors (less money). I suppose this topic merits a post or two, or even an entire book of its own, because it's a complicated subject without, in my opinion, "easy" answers. Suffice it to say, though, that there are some drawbacks, but I suppose it's also nice that Amazon "knows" which books I have, so even if I switch to a different reader, I still have my books. And it's good that authors can get paid to work on a book.
Not having actually bought it yet, I have no idea how it actually 'feels' to read a book with one. I love curling up with a good book, something I certainly can't do with my laptop. The Kindle looks light and small enough that it could work, but maybe it's just too high tech and sleek to provide that same comfortable coziness. Or maybe I'm just a luddite where books are concerned?
Do you have one? Do you use it? For all kinds of books or just certain kinds (technical books, cheap 'fun' reads, whatever…)? What's the experience like?