Kindle 2.0 initial impressions

I wasn’t as excited about the imminent (and subsequent) arrival of my new Kindle as I should have been, mostly because I knew the file management system hadn’t changed and that meant that my use of the Sony 505 wouldn’t change either.

Initial impressions of the Amazon box are that it’s small, much smaller than the box the old Kindle came in. When I open the Amazon box, I realize that it’s packaging made especially for mailing the Kindle 2. It’s lined with the same type of paper that wraps the Kindle packaging. The Kindle packaging is not as fancy as the original Kindle 1 packaging, which was kind of nice and sturdy. This is very much a temporary-type of packaging. (nice pictures of unboxing the Kindle from Engadget here)

The Kindle itself is much sleeker and thinner. I think it’s ten times more attractive than the original Kindle, but still not as sleek and trim as the Sony. But definitely an improvement over its predecessor. I’m already glad of the smaller buttons, as I had a lot of problems with unintentional page turning before. The buttons on the bottom of the Kindle have lost some of that “chiclet gum” feel and are rounder and slightly more recessed into the device.

I’m not sure what to think about the “joystick” in my initial look. I’ll have to wait and see. I’m happy about the new design as far as the back goes, as well. As Smart Bitch Sarah said, on the Kindle 1, the back would come off “if you sneezed wrong”. They’ve removed the button for turning off the wireless and made it an option on the menu instead. I’m not sure how I feel about that yet either. The wireless does seem to be faster, which it was supposed to be, and it downloaded the content I had waiting (a free copy of Silent in the Sanctuary) immediately, along with my welcome message from Jeff Bezos and a guide about Upgrading Your Content to the new Kindle (which seems relatively easy). One thing I notice is that having the wireless be part of the system, if you try to do something that requires the wireless to be on, and you have it off, the device will ask you if you want to turn it on, then do so and continue with the task.

Several things I’m disappointed about: 1) the Kindle comes with no cover or protective sleeve. Which means an automatic outlay of more money if you have any interested in protecting it at all while in your purse/bag/pocket. 2) They switched from a micro USB to a mini USB, which is a less common USB. And this also means that the iGo tip I bought for the original Kindle is now obsolete and I’ll need to buy a new one. Bugger (on closer look there is no tip for the Kindle 2 at this time. Damnit). 3) No improved file management. And to this I say, WTF, Amazon? That was the ONE improvement I wanted in the Kindle 2. The one thing that might have enticed me over from the Sony and the one thing I point to as a serious drawback to people shopping for a dedicated reader. Well, also the fact that you don’t recognize any DRM formats, including the PRC format. WTF again?

Text-to-Speech. This isn’t really a function I think I’ll use, but I tried it out. One thing to know is that if you stop in the middle of a page, when you start again it will start reading from the top of the page, not from where you stopped. Also, it tends to run things together in an odd way.

The last thing that’s not immediately clear to me is whether the Kindle is charging while plugged into the computer via the USB cord. When plugged in, I see the “charge” symbol flash onto the battery indicator before the USB screen comes up. And the light on the bottom comes on, but a message on the screen states “USB Drive Mode: If you want to use your Kindle and continue charging, please eject your Kindle from the computer.” But the instructions say that if the yellow light is on, then it’s charging. So I’m not sure what the screen message indicates. Something to investigate.

Final first impressions: Being thinner and sleeker, it does fit in my smallish purse, though it’s about an inch longer than the Sony 505. However, that’s without a case, so it depends on whether I can find a case that doesn’t add a lot of extra bulk. If I were going to use this Kindle (I’m not except for demo purposes) I would invest in this M-edge case (along with the optional light) which I wish to the depths of my soul they would make for the Sony. And yes, I did say I won’t be using it. Why? No file management. I love Sony’s tagging system, which allows me to sort my books in a variety of ways, including personal and business use, and I hope that Amazon can fix their unusable (for me) system with a firmware upgrade, rather than waiting another couple years for a whole new device.

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Ereaders in pictures

Last week in the comments of a Dear Author thread, I told one of the commenters I’d take some pictures of the Sony and the Kindle, for a visual comparison of size, as well as the best visual comparison of the screen images as I could get. Luckily, I have a sunroom that gets good light in the morning, so the pictures don’t do too bad a job showing the readers in natural light. Since I have them, I also threw in some pictures of the Ebookwise, the iPhone and the Asus EeePC. Sadly, I don’t have the Sony 700 or other readers to provide comparison pictures of.

I’m going to share a few here, but for the whole shebang (I took a lot) please go to this album to browse them. There you’ll find pictures of the Sony and Kindle from all angles, including the back, pictures of me holding them and side views, all to give you an idea of the differences between the two.

Two side by sides of the Kindle and Sony 505 from different angles
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And a picture for a comparison of the eink screen on each. To be honest, I thought the Sony might be darker but side by side, I didn’t notice any big difference. I have to wonder if it’s the difference in the white casing versus the darker casing.
Sony/Kindle Screen compare

Sony/Kindle screen compare

And shots of all the readers (From left to right: Asus EEE 900, iPhone, Kindle, Sony 505, Ebookwise:
4 reading device comparison

4 reading device comparison

5 reading device comparison

Eink versus grayscale:
Ebookwise/Sony screen comparison

I think it’s important to note about the grayscale, that the contrast can be adjusted quite a bit. That’s just how I happened to have it.

Anyone want to see any other pictures that I didn’t include?

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Friday Confessional 1-30-2009

Confession: I’m completely exhausted and only the thought of failing out only the second week of the Friday Confessional kept me doing it. Brianna has the flu and was up all night last night throwing up. After the second time (and second bedding change) I slept with her, nearly got barfed on the third time (and third bedding change) but after that she figured it out and managed to tell me with enough time I could get the bucket under her. I don’t either of us slept more than an hour straight at any given time. I’m just a little groggy. She had a spurt of energy for a few hours this morning but has since collapsed back to the couch and is now upstairs sound asleep. Poor thing.

I was going to post about how I think seeing other people vomit is the grossest thing ever (I’m a sympathetic puker). I worked as a nurse’s aid to put myself through college. I could deal with anything, any bodily function. Just not puke. I once discovered a body after the person had been dead for three days in the Arizona summer heat. No one but me was able to enter the apartment without a mask. I’ve dissected a number of cadavers. I can handle disgusting things. But vomit gets me. I was going to post all that and then realize there’s one thing that gets me more than vomit: maggots. I can’t handle them, not to think about, not to look at on TV, nothing. Ew ew ew ew. Now you know my weaknesses. Vomit and maggots.

Moving on!

Quick question. I’ve been using a new Firefox addon called Zemanta to help add links to my content. Some things you see (like Zemanta) are linked for me by them, just by clicking on something on my dashboard. The program will also add related content links of my choosing to the bottom of the post, have you noticed them? It does other things, but so far those are the two most useful. Oh, the “Reblog this” that you see at the bottom of the post also comes from that. What do you think? Useful or intrusive?

For Readers:

I’m sure everyone has seen this, but just in case:Harlequin is giving away 16 free books as part of their anniversary celebration. This is very cool. There’s something for everyone! You can also download them via Stanza (also very cool).

Leah (Madame Butterfly) has a rant about DRM and why one publisher has lost her business because of it. I’m not a fan of DRM from the publisher side, and Leah’s post illustrates why.

An interesting blogpost on the Kindle, what it is and how it might affect trends.

SciFiGuy lists the February 2009 paranormal, fantasy and urban fantasy releases.

Agent Nathan Bransford asked: will you ever buy mostly ebooks? Only 10% of the almost 1000 respondents said absolutely yes. I wish I knew the demographic breakdown of people voting. That would be interesting!

Twilight fans will enjoy this: Twilight done by bunnies (in 30 seconds) via Katiebabs

For Kindle owners. MakeUseOf.com tells you how to read feeds on your Kindle device for free.

In the Kitchen:
If you’ve ever had any questions about using your bread machine, you must read this post, Bread Machine Basics. I stumbled across it Googling for something and it’s an amazing source of answers for all your bread machine questions!

What do you get when you combine a pound of bacon and two pounds of sausage (besides a non-kosher heart attack?): the bacon explosion. This horrified and fascinated me so much I had to share it. via Tastespotting

How to make Skittles Vodka
from tipnut.com You know you want to. Heck, I KNOW *I* want to.

For the Crafty:

Lisa begins a series of bag making for beginners. The first post is about sewing terms. Part two is choosing fabric and interfacing. I’m really excited about this series because when I sew, purses are one of my favorite things to make. I actually thought about making something and donating it to the Brenda Novak auction but that hasn’t solidified in my head.

How to make an old cupboard door into a serving tray.
I love their finished product.

For Authors:

Epublishing and traditional publishing compared by an author published with both.

Agent Rachelle Gardner did some posts on the “elevator pitch”.

Agent Jessica Faust discusses the form rejection letter. It’s a fantastic post and she lists many of the reasons we use a form letter at Samhain.

Author Ilona Andrews is doing a series of one paragraph critiques. It’s interesting to see how she tears down and rebuilds each paragraph. The first one is here and she does a terrific job of relating POV to camera angle.

Anyone who’s seen my workshop on epublishing or read the articles I’ve written has heard me talk about Yog’s Law. Agent Jennifer Jackson takes this time to remind you: money flows toward the author.

For everyone:

Domino, Wondertime, Country Home and Realms of Fantasy magazines will all be shutting down or have shut down. Ouch.

Interested in politics or what President Obama has been up to? Follow the new White House blog. It’s been interesting for me, to get updates on what’s going on. I like it.

Agent Rachelle Gardner wrote a post about Twitter. She doesn’t want you to use Twitter to try and do business with her. I feel similarly. I wish I had written this post. I almost reposted the entire thing here. I might still. I like Twitter, but it’s not where I conduct business. Like Rachelle, I rarely discuss business related things there and anyone hoping for brilliance from me on Twitter is going to be sadly disappointed.

SuperBowl Sunday is this weekend (I can’t believe it’s going to be February already!) and whether you’re staying at home with just your family, having a big bash or attending one, you must check out these two posts full of delicious-looking dishes to make. The first is from Cathy at Noble Pig and oh man, did this post make me hungry! I think I’m going to try a few of those. The second is from Pioneer Woman *insert fangrrl squee* who also has a post full of dish ideas. Both posts have photos, and I dare you to go look and not drool.

Something fun: Karen Scott posts the best complaint letter ever. Ewww is all I have to say!

Picture of the week:

I’m going to give you a couple. This one, because I saw it last week and immediately marked it to use for today. The emotion of the moment is so beautiful. via Huffington Post

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Then this one from Paperback Writer’s blog because, hello, who doesn’t love a picture of a cute puppy?

cole9wks

And from Brianna’s photos this week. This elephant is no bigger than a tennis ball but the perspective on this one makes it look much bigger. I love this picture.

Mr. Elephant

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Questions from the comments

I’ve had these two comments flagged to answer in their own post, so I thought I’d better get to them!

Wyzwmn asked

a question if you please

why would you buy an e-reader over a laptop or notebook?
wouldn’t it just be one more tool to haul around?

I actually have a laptop. And an Asus EeePC (mini laptop) that only weighs 2lbs. And an iPhone. And an iPaq (which doesn’t get used at all anymore, but I’m just using it to illustrate my point). When I want to read, I immediately reach for the Sony Reader (I also own a Kindle and an Ebookwise, but the Sony is what I use right now). No other device has been able to replace, for me, using a dedicated reader, no matter how small, portable or otherwise useful it is.

I tried to think of a good analogy, but the only one I could think of was pretty weak. Let’s say you have some sort of ongoing problem with your skin. You could go to your general practicioner but if you have the option, wouldn’t you rather go to a dermatologist? Because they specialize, you know it will be better.

That’s how having a dedicated ereader is for me. Yes, it’s a specialty item but it’s a specialty item that can’t be replaced. Yes, I can read on other devices, but the experience isn’t the same, it’s not as convenient and I don’t care to do it if I don’t have to. One of the things about the newer eink devices (not the Ebookwise) is how easy on the eyes it is to read on. As much as I love ebooks, I’m like many people who say they don’t want to read on the computer. I spend probably an average of 12 hours a day looking at a computer screen. I already notice the effects of that. So when I’m ready to read for pleasure at night, it’s a huge relief to be able to reach for an eink device and be able to read on that.

Now, that said, I’m still a fan of the Ebookwise, which isn’t eink technology but is grayscale and a little less harsh than reading on the computer. Dedicated reading devices still have other advantages, such as the size (close to reading a book), the ease of holding them (easier than holding a book or a laptop) and ease of portability (which no computer or laptop can compete with, not even an Asus Eee PC).

I really love my dedicated device. If something happened to the iPhone, the Eee PC and my readers all at the same time, and I had to choose which to replace, I’d replace the dedicated reader first!

Kerry asked:

Since you mentioned the Kindle and other e-devices, I’d love to ask a question about Samhain books. Is there a schedule or specific timeline for Samhain books to be released for the Kindle? Are *all* books at some point available for Kindle, or only ones that are “proven sellers” on, say, My Bookstore and More first?

I’m also curious about the availability of Samhain books at fictionwise. I prefer to buy some books for my iphone at fictionwise because of their rewards program, but apparently Samhain books on fictionwise are only availabe in secure mobi/lit format. I’m kind of on a book-buying diet until my credit at fictionwise is gone, so it’s a bummer.

We do have a deal with Amazon/Mobipocket to release all books in mobi and Kindle formats, but it’s really up to Amazon when they appear. There are people at Samhain who have put a lot of time and effort into making sure all the books are available, but we’re dependent on Amazon to actually get them there. All we can do is keep emailing and keep asking. That was the long answer. The short answer is that all of our books should be available at all online retailers, if the retailer chooses to carry them.

Fictionwise is a little different. We have not had a contract with Fictionwise until very recently, because we were unable to reach an agreement of terms with them (I have commented on this in the past on other blogs). So Fictionwise was getting our books from Lightning Source, where the majority of online retailers get the books from. Lightning source puts the DRM on them (not Samhain) and makes them available in only a few formats. This was Fictionwise’s only option for carrying our books at that point.

Now that we’ve just reached an agreement with Fictionwise and recently signed the contract, our office staff has been working with Fictionwise to get it up and running. Going forward, very soon, Fictionwise will be offering Samhain books starting with new releases in a variety of formats (I believe unsecured formats). Backlist will hopefully be gradually converted, but that won’t happen right away.

Hope that answered both of your questions and I’m sorry it took me so long to respond. Does anyone else have any pressing questions they’ve been wanting to ask?

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Penthouse does the Kindle

The Kindle…for Penthouse readers who come for more than the pictures.

As further proof that some people read the articles in these magazines and don’t just look at the pictures, I was tipped to this by you know who.

In the Tech section of the February 2008 issue of Penthouse is an article on “ridiculously beautiful and completely unnecessary gizmos for the office, at home or out and about”

One of the five things highlighted is the Kindle, with a short feature. “Amazon, which has undeniably revolutionized the book-selling business over the past decade, is betting that e-books are the future of publishing. With this impressive device, it’s easy to see why…”

But the most interesting, to me, of the short piece was this last line

“…the prices [for Kindle books on Amazon] aren’t as low as we’d expected compared to hard copies, particularly for paperbacks.”

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