Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Truth About Amazon's Kindle

An EPJ reader reports in:

My father got one as a gift from one of his vendors last year. He doesn't read enough to get much use out of it (he's so busy his goal each year is to read 4 books, ie, what I read in an average month, then again I am not running a company with 1,000 employees) so he just sent me his Kindle.

It's pretty cool. You can make bookmarks, highlight and add notes, which is not as easy as physically writing in a book but it is better than nothing. You can also mail yourself PDFs and other documents, images and mp3s (PDFs can be transferred unconverted or converted by Amazon into a Kindle-friendlier format) via email or over your USB cable. I have found this feature interesting because it is a cool way to read 10-Ks and 10-Qs, which I hate sitting in front of my computer for hours reading, though it is not perfect as the unconverted PDF often requires zooming to read clearly while the converted format often screws up tables and other formatting features while making the doc overall more readable.

The readability of the screen itself is quite high. I purchased my first Kindle book, Getting More, by Stuart Diamond (negotiation strategy book from a Wharton prof) and I am enjoying the experience of reading on the Kindle immensely. You really do kind of forget you're reading it on a piece of technology and it's incredibly light, even with the small leather case mine came with.

I downloaded all the major works by Rothbard, Mises, Hayek, etc. from and threw the PDFs onto my Kindle. My eReader library just grew by 1000s of pages and it cost me nothing. As I said, it sure beats sitting in front of the computer for hours trying to read the PDFs! (though my preferred way to read these would generally be to send the PDF to kinkos for printing and binding).

It's cool tech, not perfect and probably best suited for "lighter" reading where you don't plan to do a ton of highlighting or note-taking, but in a pinch I think the critical reading tools are at least helpful in that regard.


  1. Kindles are great, but I actually prefer the Galaxy Tab. The screen's dimensions are the same, and you can do all the e-reading you want through the Kindle and FB Reader apps (yes, mine is full of pdf's from as well), but you also have all the functionality of an Android device as well, at a far lower cost than a 3G-capable iPad. The only real advantages of the Kindle are a lower price point and a glare-less screen.

  2. There is a little voice in my head that says these things could be used as just another way to control the free-flow of information. Not today or tomorrow, but down the road I get a bad feeling about reliance on a device like these.

  3. The only problem I have with them is the books are not hard copy and could be changed slowly. Once history is stored completely on technological devices, it will only be a matter of time before someone edits it...

  4. Memo to the other Anonymous posters: information is potentially infinitely reproducible, unlike paper and ink.

  5. You can read the Kindle outside, you can't with iPad or other similar devices. I love mine and find it a great way to read articles I clip. It is a bit cumbersome to take notes, but you can highlight and then download highlights and notes.

  6. I received a Barnes and Noble Nook as a gift a while back. It's loaded down with a lot of free content from and a few other things I have purchased. I read primarily for information/education, rarely for entertainment. It works well for my purposes.