I confess that I am in love with my third-generation Amazon Kindle since I bought it last year and it has definitely revolutionized my reading experience.
So if you are hesitating and not knowing which e-reader to buy from amongst the smorgasbord of brands out in the market, particularly if you live in Singapore, I hope to pitch in some personal insights about the Kindle to help make up your mind.
Book lovers in Singapore would have long heard of raving reviews about the Kindle, but back then, Amazon did not support the sale of its e-books here.
Starting this year, it is now possible for us in Singapore to purchase e-books directly off the Amazon website.
(Even till date, digital content from the Kindle cannot be directly bought with a Singapore registered credit card. It is recommended that you get the Amazon gift card to route your way around. Find out more detailed step-by-step information about how to do it here and here.)
Weighing less than 250g, the Kindle reader had definitely made reading on the go much more convenient. I would never take a flight, short or long haul, without bringing my Kindle on. Its size is compact enough to fit into most handbags while I was literally lugging around hundreds of books with me. Most importantly, its battery life is able to last for a month or two, depending on your usage, making the Kindle a rare breed amongst my pile of modern electronic appliances.
I must admit that I do miss touching and sniffing in the smell of paper while flipping through my real book. But reading has never been easier than this and my mum was certainly glad that I could finally stop piling books up in my store room.
Beyond comparing technical specifications when choosing an e-reader, it is equally important to factor in the services provided by the online bookstore. This is so because the real value of buying a Kindle is not the reader in itself, which merely acts as a platform for reading, but rather the Kindle-format books.
According to Amazon, it offers more than 850,000 Kindle titles, frequently updated with the latest titles, expanding number of genres and even books. A year back, I was frustrated with the content made was available by Amazon in the Asia-Pacific region since I really wanted to subscribe to The Economist on my Kindle. But today, the choice range has certainly been widen where you can get newspapers from around the world from The Independent to Le Monde all at a fraction of the prices should you grab from news stands in Asia.
Apart from reading from your Kindle, Amazon also has apps for reading its e-books on a wide variety of platforms, be it on Mac or PC operating systems, Android devices and even iPhones that are wired and synchronized simultaneously through wireless internet.
Another feature I adore about Amazon would be its huge trove of detailed book reviews written by a relatively huge community of book lovers that makes it useful to help me make up my mind before buying any book. Such a feature has not fully taken off on other online book stores such as Apple’s iBookstore or Sony’s Reader Store
Yet the Kindle also has its fair share of drawbacks which was witty summarized by The Guardian’s reporter Jemima Kiss as “a highly polished trilobite fossil – like an early prototype for something that still has a long way to travel.”
Smartphone users would have difficulty adapting to the Kindle’s design, lamenting that it is outdated with no touch screen features, instead having to make do with the QWERTY keyboard and a five-way controller. Moreover, its matte screen, which was designed to prevent glare, lacks backlighting necessary for reading under dimmer lighting conditions.
Singaporean buyers might also face difficulties in purchasing it since Amazon till date does not deliver the Kindle directly to Singapore. Hence, it might be a spot of bother for them to find alternative ways to get their hands on it.
My final conclusion? If you like books and reading, get it, get it, get it!