Monday, July 28, 2008

The Kindle

James Fallows has a good post on the deficiencies of the Kindle, and by extension, most online reading applications:
3) And about the process of reading:

Spent six or seven hours of the flight reading on the Kindle. Perfectly pleasant and legible. Only one inconvenience relative to " real" books -- harder to flip ahead or back several pages at a time. (You scroll page by page, or else go to the table of contents.) And a kind of mental-picture adjustment: it's easier to insert bookmarks or placeholders, or seach for a specific word in the text; harder to have a remembered visual image of a certain passage as it fits on a certain place on a page. Not good for books where pictures, illustrations, maps, production quality matter a lot. Very, very good for reading Word .DOC files or .PDFs that I would otherwise have to read on the computer.
In the same vein:
One added observation, however, would be that the Kindle actually suffers from several ridiculous flaws. James refers to the inability to "flip" multiple pages at a time. It also doesn't let you cross-reference Kindle "locations" with brick-and-mortar page numbers. And you can only highlight whole lines at a time rather than starting with specific words. There are various other things like that. They're annoying. But at the same time, these are problems that I'm sure have solutions. When the basic technology of the Kindle Reader and Kindle Store are married to a design team (either at Amazon or at a competing firm like Apple) that's somewhat better at thinking this stuff through then I think you'll have a product a lot of people want to buy.