Nope. No Kindle for me.

Update: A couple of months after I wrote this post I succumbed to an offer on Amazon and bought the Kindle Paperwhite. I love it to bits. I hope it forgives me for this nasty post below

I was one of those people who swore by physical books. I never ever thought that I’d go the e way until I bought my Samsung Galaxy Tab. And then the Kobo and Kindle app happened making me an an instant convert. I devoured books day and night, in the darkness and in the light. But as awesome as it was, reading on the tablet did have a lot of limitations. It was too distracting. With the internet on, I kept checking my social networks every ten minutes, sometimes live tweeting the book. Without the internet on, there was always Candy Crush tempting me with Just-One-More-Level. It was too bulky to carry around and too delicate to rough it out on a train journey. And reading in the dark was too stressful on my eyes. So I decided to become a hardcore ebook reader and get my Kindle.

Going by the numerous reviews of the Kindle Paperwhite, it seemed like it was the ultimate reading device . There was not a single negative review that I came across. So I put it in my Amazon cart and almost clicked on Buy.  And then, I had second thoughts. So I borrowed a Kindle from my friend to try it out for a few days before investing almost Rs. 14000 on one.

And I’m glad I did.

After a week with a Kindle Paperwhite, I decided that it was not for me. Am I the only one or are these issues that bug other people too?

The Refresh Issue:

Maybe the time lag between page turns is less than a second and a lot lesser than the time taken to turn a page on a physical book. But it irritated me to no end. After experiencing the smooth page transitions on the tablet, that blink that happens for a fraction of a second on each page turn was so annoying. But that wasn’t the worst part. Every sixth page, the screen would turn black and then white again. On pages with tables or pictures, it was worse. This is supposedly an e-ink thing. All the online forums that discussed it said that I would ‘get used to it’. But I don’t think I ever could. It was like waiting for the other shoe to drop. I would brace myself for that sixth page blackout even before I turned the first page. Adjust your blinking pattern , you’ll get used to it they say! I’m outraged that people would even suggest such a thing.

And this black blink happens on every single touch when you handle the menu. Extremely irritating.

Size 

Yes, it is compact. It is thinner than a pencil, lighter than a paperback and it even fits in the back pocket of your jeans. But seriously, who carries around a Kindle in the back pocket of their jeans? Everyone slips it into a bulky and bigger cover. Some use a leather case, some a padded cloth pouch, some even a hardwood box. So why that stingy 6 inches? Why not the dimensions of a small paperback. And extra inch of screen space would have made such a difference to me. ( The iPad Mini has the best dimensions )

Page numbering

The Kobo app is really great when it comes to page numbering. It gives you the page x/n at the bottom of each page. Makes reading more pleasurable. You can tell yourself, five more pages to go and then I’ll sleep. But the Kindle has the weirdest way of showing your progress. Location 3 of 5760. 1%.  Why not a simple page this of that? Now imagine reading A Suitable Boy on the Kindle.

Cover design

Ok. I am shallow. I like pretty covers. I can accept the fact that the covers on the Kindle will be in black and white, but why have the same cover as the actual book? It makes your collection look so ugly. Like those photocopied textbooks with blurry black and white photographs. Why not have different covers for the Kindle (or any eformat) versions with crisper, sharper black and white images? Look at the cover of the book Kite Strings. That is the kind of cover I am taking about. It should work on both the colour screens and the black and white ones. Here is my collection on the Kindle app on the tablet vs the collection on the Kindle. Can you blame me for wanting pretty things?

KindleScreenshot_2014-02-13-18-52-10

Flexibility

There was an offer on the Play Store and I got a bunch of books free. Flipkart gave me a bunch at a discount. I have a whole set of books from the Kobo store. I have a stash of pirated books. I have author friends who send me manuscripts in a Word doc or official documents  that run into several pages that I convert into epub or mobi using Calibre. How do I read all those on my Kindle? I can convert a few an transfer to the device, but not all. It seems unfair that I would need a different app or an eReader for each format. Why not allow me to upload my entire collection whether I bought it from Amazon or not on the Amazon cloud and access them on my device? Piracy and all that, I know. But still.

Price

Almost Rs.13000 for a device (with all the limitations above) that you use only for reading books? Slightly pricey don’t you think? And they don’t even throw in a charger for free.

So tomorrow, I will return the Kindle to my friend and remove the item from my Amazon cart. I’ll put cucumber slices on my eyes after a night of reading on my tablet. Maybe I’ll uninstall Candy Crush. And I’ll wait until Amazon can give me a better Kindle. For less than half the price of this one. I’m like that.

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