To Kindle Or Not To Kindle

Jul 28, 2010

Decisions, decisions.

Today my wife the doctoral candidate asked my advice on whether to buy a book she needed as a P-Book or the Kindle edition. (We have the Kindle DX.)

The name of the book is The Structure Of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas Kuhn. (Strangely, I remembered both the book and the author’s name. I think I might have read it a long time ago during my history-of-technology phase.)

Anyway, here were the considerations:

Delivery: Kindle is instant versus having to wait (and pay extra) for the P-Book.

Price: $9.99 for the Kindle versus $13.80 plus shipping for the P-Book.

Payment Method: Both instant – quickpay or autopay or one-click or whatever Amazon is calling it.

Intrinsic Quality: Print is print is print. Expectations will be met. There will be a Table Of Contents, there will be an Index. You can flip through it. However, there’s no equivalent to a “flip through” on the Kindle. And Kindle books can vary in quality depending upon how the digital file is created. This usually means problems navigating through the book. How widespread these problems are with Kindle books produced by commercial houses, I don’t know. But the fear flashed through my mind – and that’s a problem for both Amazon and publishers of titles for the Kindle. I wonder what the return policy is.

Miscellaneous Pros For the P-Book: You can resell it. You can loan it to a friend who doesn’t have a Kindle. It’s just as easy to scan and OCR parts of it as it is to try and copy and paste from the Kindle. (Can that even be done? …gotta work on my Kindle-skills.)

Miscellaneous Pros For the Kindle Edition: Nothing to carry, it travels with the device. It also travels with the iPad via the Kindle app. Is there a desktop version of the Kindle app? I don’t know.

Bottom Line: This book is a must-have, not discretionary. (The local library could, in this instance, be an option since the course requiring it won’t last forever.)
But on the logic of, “Well, ten bucks more or less isn’t going to break me”, the Kindle edition won. Later today, I’ll check out the quality issues and report back.

Transitions, transitions.

[ UPDATE: A Few Hours After First Post ]

The book indeed has a table of contents. However, when you first “open” the book on the Kindle, for some reason it jumps to the Preface, not the TOC. Don’t see much logic in that. Plus, who reads the damned Preface anyway. I know the author is grateful to their family, to God, and to that first-grade teacher who put them on the path to authorship. There should be a “Start Reading” option that takes you straight to the meat. Or, start with the TOC, for heaven’s sake. But anyway….

Part of the reason for this post was to display, unashamedly, my own ignorance of what’s up with Kindle books. From what I can see, the best thing about the Kindle is the iPad Kindle app. Much, much more usable. And in Naples, Florida, where I live, it’s too damned hot in the sun, anyway.
In a comment on this post, Joe Golton of FilterJoe, who’s not ignorant says:

“Richard – You’ve already pulled the trigger on this one but there’s a few things that would be helpful for you to know before purchasing any more books from the Kindle store:

1) There IS a way to flip through a book, but only if the book is formatted with “waypoints.” Waypoints are the little dots you see at the bottom of the Kindle’s screen for books that have them. Look at the Kindle DX User’s Guide for an example. Just flick the controller to the right (or left) flip forward (or backward) through the book chapter by chapter.

2) You can usually download a sample to see if the book has Table of Contents and waypoints enabled. You will want to do this for any book that has chapters, to see if it is set up to take full advantage of the Kindle formatting.

3) Nonetheless – a sample will usually only show you the first 5% or so of a book. So you may not get to preview whether graphs were done correctly.

The Nook from Barnes and Noble has the advantage of allowing you to browse the entire book while you are in the Barnes and Noble store. The Nook also has another “flip through the book” option – a slider that can be used on the touchpad to jump to different parts of the book.”

So there you have it. And me, too.

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