Text Patterns - by Alan Jacobs

Monday, June 15, 2009


So you know how people — like, for instance, me — have pointed out that if you lose your Kindle you lose all your Kindle books? Well, at about the time that I wrote that post Amazon released its Kindle app for the iPhone, which I dutifully downloaded, and now I’m really glad I did, because . . .

I lost my Kindle.

Yep, I left it on an airplane. I’ve never left anything on an airplane; I guess I was just waiting until I had a four-hundred-dollar reading device so I could make my first time truly special. I left it in the seat-back pocket, and though I called Southwest as soon as I got home, I haven't heard anything back from them. All I could do was deactivate the Kindle so whoever kept it can't charge books to my account.

I don't think I’m going to buy another one. In the previous couple of months I had been using it less and less, for several reasons. First, I was coming more and more to miss the look and feel of different books — I realized that many of my memories of books were linked to their appearance, to cover designs and typefaces, and I began to suspect that I was not remembering as much about the books I read on the Kindle. (That’s just a suspicion, though.) And then there’s the fact that the iPhone Kindle app does a number of things better than the Kindle itself. It turns pages faster, and while you can't highlight or annotate with it, those are really awkward functions on the Kindle anyway; and on the iPhone app it’s easier to book mark pages and to retrieve your bookmarks.

I haven't done a great deal of reading on my iPhone so far, and I haven't read for long periods of time, so I’m not prepared to agree with Ann Kirschner that “the iPhone is a Kindle killer”. Battery life is going to be a problem; and backlit screens are harder on the eyes than ink on paper or e-ink on matte screens. But I don't think I can justify going back to Amazon and forking over several hundred bucks to get another Kindle, even a new and improved one. I’m going to stick with my books, and use my iPhone as a backup for emergency reading needs.


  • ann Kirschner said...

    I couldn't resist -- linked to you on my relatively new and poor excuse for a blog!

  • Matt Frost said...

    I'm shocked to discover how much I like Eucalyptus for the iPhone. Sure, you're limited to Project Gutenberg books, but the Conrad catalog alone should keep me busy for a while.

  • This is funny, after all your eulogizing of the Kindle. :-)

  • What say you about ipods? David is on his 3rd!

  • Alan Jacobs said...

    Elaine, we still have our whole iPod history lying around the house. Wes and I lined them all up on the floor the other day and took a picture. Tears came to my eyes.

    Matt, I've been using Stanza — should I give Eucalyptus a try?

  • Jiminny Christmas! Four months ago you were writing about the Kindle as if it were some kind of digital Gutenberg. I read on in amazement--could these things really be that good?

    Personally, I have never really liked reading books on the Kindle. But I do like being able to send online articles to the Kindle that I read over breakfast at my local diner. I much prefer the Kindle to my computer screen.

    P.S. Wait a minute...you're angling for a free replacement from Amazon, aren't you?

  • gavin Bledsoe said...

    a friend who has a kindle told me that amazon keeps her books in an electronic library on-site and she can go and download another copy because she has paid for it already or if she has too many books she can switch out books as necessary. has anyone heard that?

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