Why you should buy a Kindle

If you haven’t joined the e-reader craze, now’s the time to start.

If you’re like I was, you probably think an e-reader is non-sense.  What’s wrong with an old fashioned book, anyhow?

Nothing, necessarily.  But e-readers such as the Kindle are good for several reasons:

  • They are easier on the eyes
  • You can change text size, words per line, etc
  • You can get books for free, and usually pay less for retail books
  • When you’re on a trip, you can take a whole library of books with you

That is not to say that page-books no longer have a purpose, or that you should throw out your library after buying an e-reader.  Books are still preferable for reading in the bathtub, taking to work, or to places where your Kindle may get damaged or lifted.

But the reason that the Kindle 3 is so useful is specifically the text size feature. Typographers lament how their findings are rarely heeded.  For instance, they have found that the easiest lines to read have between six to eight words per line.  Many printed books deviate from this standard.  Many more still have smaller print.

Take for instance, Lies My Teacher Told Me,  a great book, but challenging to read: both because it is dense material and because of its tiny script and tons of words per line.   After buying it on my Kindle, I found it much easier to read and absorb.

We’re not talking about changing the content of what you’re reading after all, only the text size and words per line.  You can still read whatever you want (most of the time).  The reason that words-per-line is so important is because reading requires you to drop down and to the left for each new line.  Add too many words in a line and reading becomes more taxing for your brain.

Just think of all the times you missed a line, had to go back to retrace your place, and so on. This alone is reason enough to go with an e-reader.

If you’re still hesitant to drop the cash on an e-reader (take for instance, that you have to charge it), just talk to someone you know who has one:  chances are, they love their Kindle.

Your only choice to make is to choose one of the e-readers currently on the market.  This is difficult, because no one e-reader is best for everyone.  It depends on what you want to do with it.  If you have a massive PDF collection and want to read them on an e-reader, you should avoid the Kindle 3. Support for PDF is very limited.  If you want a huge online collection of books to choose from, you can’t beat the selection offered at Amazon.com.

Also, with a program called Calibre, you can convert many e-book formats to Kindle’s MOBI format.  This allows you to make use of the thousands of ePub books from online libraries that the Kindle wouldn’t otherwise support.

The Kindle DX can run a lot of money, but I actually like that mine has a smaller screen (also for a lot less money).  It’s weighs less than the DX version, the battery does a little better, and the DX is only better for more words-per-line (as we’ve already discussed, this is not necessarily an advantage).

Feel free to post with comments or criticisms of e-readers.

© David Metcalf


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