I just re-read the thread called, "Anyone take a Kindle along?" Interesting, because I just ordered a Kindle 2 yesterday - the small one. It hasn't come yet. After I receive it and have a chance to familiarize myself with it I'll add my findings. Stop reading now if you've heard it all before.
I'm buying it almost exclusively for the purpose of bike touring. I think I will continue to buy and read books for everything else. I like the feel of books. I like looking at them on my shelves after I've read them. I love lending them out to my friends who also love books. You can often find used books very cheap, and that's good. Even though Kindle versions of hardbound books often cost significantly less, used books are often even cheaper.
I think the Kindle will be a benefit on touring for these reasons:
- It's very light. I haven't held the small one yet, but it seems as if it will be as light as a thin paperback, and quite a bit lighter than a big hardbound. Plus, it's less bulky and will take up less space in my handlebar bag.
- I won't have to try and find a bookseller when I finish a book. I don't like carrying two books any longer than I have to, so I usually try and time the purchase of a new book about the same time as I finish the previous - so I'm never without a book to read (horrors!) but I seldom have to carry two books at a time.
- I won't have to worry if I choose a bad book at the bookstore. I often agonize over which book to buy when I can only buy one. If I buy one and don't like it, I'm stuck until the next bookseller. With a Kindle I can have several books stored, choose which to read depending on my mood, and switch to something else if I make a bad choice.
- After a few days on the road I like to buy a newspaper to catch up on world events. I'm a bit of a news junkie. Often my choice is limited to some small, local paper. USA Today is a good choice, but often unavailable or hard to find. The Kindle allows you to download a copy. However, there are some limitations which reviewers have described. I'll report back on how useful this is.
I looked at the Sony Reader and the Nook. The Sony Reader was out because you have to load books from a computer. I want to be able to load data from the road. The Nook was interesting, partly because of the ability to share books with another Nook owner. My daughter wanted us both to buy Nooks, because then I would buy books and share them with her and she wouldn't have to pay for them. However, there's a 14-day limit on sharing books, and not all books are share-able. I think she'll probably end up with some sort of E-reader and I'll just buy books for her. She knows I've always been very willing to buy her books, bikes, and musical instruments!
Another issue was the operating system. I read lots of reviews saying that the Nook is very slow compared to the Kindle.
Barnes and Noble touts lots of other features. They have free content. However, I checked what it consists of and it's nothing of interest to me. They say you can read their books for free if you're in a Barnes and Noble store, but it's not for all books, and there's a time limit. I figure if I'm in a Barnes and Noble store, I'd rather pull a book off the shelf and read it for free. I don't need to use an E-reader.
A bigger issue was battery life. The Kindle's was said to be much longer. That's big on the road, although I already have to charge my mp3 player and my phone. One more device wouldn't be that bad, especially if it only has to be done every few days.
Both the Kindle and Nook have built in dictionaries, but the Kindle has access to Wikipedia. I like to look up words I don't know (I usually bring a dictionary when I go car camping) so I like the dictionary. I also like to research things I don't know about, so Wikipedia will be nice, hopefully.
Off-topic a little bit: My dad is 98 and in really good health, but his eyesight is impaired by age-related macular degeneration. He has been a voracious reader his entire life. During the past couple of years he's had a hard time reading - sometimes not being able to, and other times able to read if he had a REALLY bright reading light.
My brothers and I bought him a large-size Kindle for Christmas, hoping the larger font size would help. It did! He says his Kindle has become something he can't live without! Besides new titles, he has been loading some of the classics that are free or very cheap. He got the complete works of Dumas for $0.99 and is halfway through The Three Musketeers right now, and enjoying it immensely. Of course there are a lot of titles that aren't available in Kindle versions (especially the obscure subjects he is interested in - technical stuff - he's an engineer interested in all sorts of things. He just bought an entire book about the development of the toothpick, and he has scores of volumes about code breaking, particularly during World War II.) and he still buys books, but he loves his Kindle. If you have an older parent (or if your eyes are similar to his) it might be something to consider.