Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Kindle: Madam Mayo is Simultaneously Impressed and Underwhelmed

Last January, I read Jeff Gomez's Print is Dead, and decided to open my mind to the wondrous possibilities of non-book-bound narrative. Soon thereafter, at the AWP bookfair in New York, writer and editor Tamara Sellman showed me her light-as-mushroom-dust Kindle and I was impressed. So, a few hundred smackos slapped on the credit card and the Kindle,'s newfangled electronic reading device, has arrived. I have to admit, however, that it's been sitting on a hall table, unused for more than a month.

The impressive:
--->The box it comes it is charmingly designed.
--->The apparatus is exceptionally lightweight--- goes in a shoulderbag, no problem.
--->Nice leather cover.
--->Love the elastic band on the cover, too.
--->Keyboard super easy to use.
--->The Whispernet thing is kind of cool.

The underwhelming:
--->The screen. It's OK for a screen that isn't back-lit. You need a light to read it, just as you would for an actual book. Whoever came up with the term "electronic paper" gets an A+ in Hot Air.
--->The blog thing. Pay to subscribe to blogs? I think not. And to read a blog without being able to follow links (i.e., surf the 'Net)? What, pray tell, is the point? In any event, a number of the very few blogs available for a Kindle subscription are just plain crappy. "Overheard in New York?" Puh-lease. I'll admit I've read that one in the past, and found it hilarious. But recently it's just turned into very boring, very repetitive p**n. Not even hilarious p***n, OK? As for the other blogs, such as Huffington Post, I sometimes read them on the 'Net--- but that's where they're free, and I can surf the links.
--->Newspaper subscriptions, such as the New York York Times, come without pictures, without ads, and abbreviated (!!!) articles. Madam Mayo shall continue recylcing her ginormous piles of newspaper, merci beaucoup. Alas.
--->The price. Ouch.
--->Whispernet. I realize that sounds like a contradiction, as I did say it's cool. But it's limiting. Whispernet doesn't cover the planet, exactly (mostly major US metropolitan areas) and it's just one danged more thing to have to figure out. And I don't want to have to haul around so many different gadgets--- cell phone, camera, video camera, laptop with a highspeed wireless connection, and (sigh), a Kindle with a Whispernet connection... umbrella... Chapstick... address book... notebook... Chiropractor emergency contact info...

Read what Seth Godin has to say about the Kindle here. Jeff Gomez expounds in multiple posts here. More anon.