4 Reasons why the Amazon Kindle e-reader is one of the best devices ever, will help you lose weight, save money and lower your stress level.
My wonderful wife gave me an Amazon Kindle for our anniversary recently and I believe it is one of the best devices I have ever used; so good that I want to recommend it to everyone I know.
So what’s so great about the Kindle and why should you try one? Four simple words: Content, Functionality, Portability and Value.
Every morning when I wake up, my Kindle has the latest copies of The New York Times, Boston Globe, WSJ, and Washington Post. It also has the latest posts from the 5 tech/web 2.0 blogs I follow and several political blogs. I have also downloaded several books and the Kindle will open to the last page I read, but I primarily use it for newspapers and blogs.
I recently showed the Kindle to Ken Dec, one of my partners in Underwood Partners. Ken is a marketing/branding genius and instantly recognized that Amazon has been marketing the Kindle as an e-book reader, where as I (and probably most of you will) use it primarily as an e-paper/blog reader.
The Kindle is about the side of a medium paper back, although much thinner: 7.5 inches tall x 5 inches wide x 0.5 inches think. The reading screen is about 5 x 3.5. One of the reasons the Kindle is superior to other readers I have tried is that they have come as close to possible to replicating black ink on white paper (the most readable combination) Although the screen is not back-lit and therefore requires some light on planes, in bed, etc., you can read it in bright sunlight without any difficulty – say while your 9 year old son is warming up for a soccer game.
The Kindle has multiple font sizes, which can be changed by clicking two buttons once. I found this to be extremely helpful the second day I had the Kindle when I took it to a hotel exercise room and found I needed to increase the font size to be legible on the recumbent bike (re: the “lose weight” comment above). It’s also a god send if you forget your reading glasses.
To turn pages you push a bar on either side of the Kindle to go the next or previous page. A “back” button takes you back to the pervious section you were on.
When reading newspapers the menu button will bring up a drop down window with several choices: front page, sections list, articles list. This enables you to go to the section you want (e.g., Sports) or scroll through all of the articles in the paper or within a section.
One of the best features of the Kindle is you can download content anywhere in the country as long as you have any signal on the Sprint network. Amazon calls their network the “Whispernet” and it truly works almost anywhere. Newspapers, blogs, magazines all update automatically whenever there is new content and you have the “connect” switch on. Although you pay for content (see below), you do not pay for the air time and don’t have to log onto T-Mobile or any other pay site. It literally works everywhere – even in my Dad’s nursing room home in rural West Virginia.
To add content you select “Shop in Kindle Store” from the menu and have your choice of 190,000 books, 26 newspapers, 18 Magazines and 940 blogs. All newspapers, blogs and magazines have a two week free trial, and books allow you to read a section before purchasing. Books usually sell for $9.99, newspapers $9.99 per month and blogs a dollar or two. All cost less than their paper versions. The download time is amazing – 200 page books in a minute or two. All payments are made through your Amazon one click settings, so you don’t waste time entering credit card numbers and billing addresses.
Underlining and writing notes on pages:
When I was CEO of Loyalty (and before kids) I read several books a month and would underline important passages, making notes in the margin of business related books. Our receptionist would type up the notes and sections and I would share them with our senior management team and clients. The Kindle lets you do this without the receptionist. With a couple of clicks you can highlight sections and also type notes using the keyboard at the bottom of the Kindle. You can then email or print the sections from your PC.
Portability and stress relief:
The Kindle weighs just 0.6 lb; slightly more than my Blackberry which weighs 0.5 lb. With its small width and size it is easy to fit in a briefcase or just carry with you anywhere. So here’s how it reduces stress. Carry it with you always and you can blast through a few articles or blog posts if you are: waiting for the person in front of you at the grocery checkout lane trying to find her coupons, checkbook, etc.; so far, flight attendants have not yet figured them out so you can read during take-off and landings; the 15 minutes the traffic police keep you waiting to give you a ticket – no problem; your best friend who is always late for breakfast, let him take his time; etc., etc., etc. And guys, the Kindle makes it easy to take 5 newspapers to the bathroom with you.
I also found it to be highly functional in my favorite NYC restaurant (Wild Edibles,3rd & 35th) where I was able to read despite having covered the 18″‘ square table with three appetizers, drinking a beer with one hand a eating sushi with the other, needing only a 5X7 inch space for the Kindle and one finger to navigate. It also came in handy after shoulder surgery when it would have been impossible to handle a broadsheet traditional paper.
The Kindle costs about $350 from amazon.com and I assume you can try it and return for a complete refund if you don’t like it. They can also be found on craigslist for around $200, but not often. Even at the full price, the payback on the difference between the paper price and the Kindle price of the NYT, WSJ and Boston Globe is less than 6 months.
The only things I would like to see on the Kindle are an easy way to forward articles to friends and colleagues and some kind of backlight, although traditional clip on book lights can take care of this need for now. Without a “tell a friend” button, the Kindle lacks one of the basic Web 2.0 imperatives of making it easy for consumers to share/evangelize with their friends. Look for that in a future version.