The Kindle Is Flawed But Worth It

A couple of weeks ago I bought a Kindle Paperwhite. I like it a lot. The backlight isn’t so intense I can’t read in bed without keeping myself up all night, it doesn’t get uncomfortable to hold, and it doesn’t give me the option to get distracted and open Twitter.

The typography does indeed suck. None of the typefaces look all great at the size I want to read them at. I keep flipping between Baskerville and Caecilia. I’m gravitating more towards Caecilia because it looks decent at smaller sizes on the lower resolution screen (probably Amazon chose it originally). Anyway, it’s not that bad — I can live with it.

GoodReads integration is cool, although I have no idea why it’s so manual. The Kindle shows me what percentage of the book I’ve read on every page, but for some reason, even after adding the book to GoodReads from the Kindle (why can’t it have an option to sync my books automatically?), I have to go to the GoodReads website to update how far into the book I am there (which I won’t ever do).

This is actually not the first Kindle I’ve owned. I had a second generation Kindle in 2009 (which I stopped using at some point). It’s quite an upgrade in a bunch of ways, although you can tell that the main focus has been making the Kindle cheaper and that making the reading experience better was secondary. The screen is better, but not iPhone 3GS to iPhone 4 better. Not refreshing between every page flip is nice, although I don’t remember that bothering me too much.

One thing that really stinks and hasn’t changed at all is that reading books which aren’t just prose is awful. I’m currently reading The Practice of Programming, and just finished a book called The Next America. The Practice of Programming has lots of code samples, which get formatted badly between pages. The Next America also had a lot of problems. There were a lot of charts in it which rendered at a size I think would be illegible for a lot of people. Still, I’m sick of having to move books around from place to place and the space they take up, so it’s worth it. It’s just surprising that in 5 years they couldn’t make this better.

I guess what I really think is that the Kindle is flawed in a lot of ways, but that it’s the positives — e-ink screen, having every book with me always, not having to own and move a bunch of large heavy books — are so appealing that for less than $200, it’s worth it to own one.