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kindle experience

Updated December 10, 2014.

December 2014. Added another Kindle early this month: Kindle Fire 8.9. I wanted a tablet to read all my magazines on a device, so it had to have a color screen. I wanted to read books on it too.

Review: The screen is good. As a reader it is good. As a tablet it's a bit annoying because one has little control over appearance details like the Ads that appear before one signs in or what apps show on the screen. Well, I am not shocked ... I sort of expected it would be Amazoned (not a word, is it?). The next-page function is touchy, I find it runnng away on me from an accidental touch (one eventually learns to keep fingers off the screen). Sometimes it is a little tricky to figure out how to get the Android left-arrow onto the screen to exit what one is doing (here too was a learning-curve -- the Home button on that same bottom line is what I really want to use, not so much the left-arrow thing).

I initially thought the magazine-reader function on iPad was better, (easier to find one's way and easier to read magazine text) but after a few days I've learned more of the controls and find the left-edge-swipe to show the table of contents (and part of the initial sentence or so) is very good. I find it easy to skim newspapers and magazines to read what I want and skip what seems uninteresting. In the case of newspapers there is way too much to read daily so I have to be selective.

I have a couple new paper books and find the paper pages annoying, the pages just won't stay open right. So I'll continue with e-books when possible. This Fire is Verizon-capable but I have not decided whether to get a contract with Verizon or to stick to WiFi. We do find that with iPad there are definitely times when Verizon is crucial, such as when traveling in a car (iPad is for passenger use only!).

Major annoyance: there is no way, in the email reader, to mark all email in a folder as read. To mark things one has to touch "Edit" and then scroll through all the emails individually to mark read. How could this 'mark all' get left out? Crazy. Annoying. On the other hand, I did not buy it as a tool for reading email. It is a very fine reader device :-)

Regrettably it is impossible to read Scientific American on this device as SciAm seems clueless about e-formats (don't get me started on all they do badly) so I read the paper edition.

October 2014. Both the Kindle 2 and DX ( both bought around 2009) are still working well, though I put the wrong chemical on the left-hand side of the DX (not on the screen) and that left some nasty tracks. But never mind, it still works. DX battery does not last nearly as long as it used to. And one book I bought simply refused to go to DX over whispernet, so I read the book on iPad instead.

The DRM in Kindle still bothers me, and I do buy at least some books without DRM, but I confess Amazon does make it soooo easy to find and buy books that most book purchases are on kindle. The wife prefers iPad or iPhone for reading.

I put Kindle 2 down one day after reading for a few minutes and had the oddest feeling of seeing exactly that motion with a similar form-factor device on StarTrek Next Generation!

The Kindle DX keyboard (if you can call it a keyboard) is initially confusing but I really like it better than the Kindle 2 keyboard: I find it faster to use. Nice work, Amazon.

What to Read?

I used to go to Borders and look at the new books and buy all the new science fiction. Now I find myself using sources like recommendations from magazines and friends instead. And when I find an author or series I like I buy all the books available on Kindle by that author or in that series. I guess it's no wonder Borders is gone!


As of 2014 I read The Economist, Asimov's, Linux Journal, The New Yorker, and The Atlantic on Kindle. Seeing the color on Fire makes it work well.

The tables and graphs on The Economist are largely impossible to read on Kindle 2 or DX (specially the ones at the end pages of the magazine) but are easy to see on Fire.

Diagrams, Pictures

A non-issue on Fire. Everything looks great.

Though diagrams (maps, for example) in books show up they are still a bit hard to read on Kindle 2 and DX. Certainly better than in 2009, but the limited contrast and the dot density (on the older Kindles such as I have, newer ones are better I understand) limits what the screen can do.


The special toggle button on the Kindle 2 broke in half (in 2010?) (we have no idea how). Amazon shipped a new device (and we shipped the old one back in their box). Nice service.


Amazon is a love-hate relationship for authors For buyers the DRM is an issue.

Recently I'm finding other ebook sellers (, but the limited library on such is an annoyance. When Amazon sells the physical book but the author has an ebook store..Amazon won't tell you. Annoying.

The publishers are trying to preserve their old business model. It won't work. Have good stuff and make it easy to buy, that's the solution to copyright issues. (Don't get me started on copyright as US copyright law is a disaster. The original 1913 law, in contrast, was good -- but Mickey Mouse subverted it.)

The 'Kindle Top Sellers' is fun to browse.


Type in a search term and press 'go'. What? Not found? Ah. You have just discovered that searches only work on whole words! Partial words searches are not implemented! There is no way to change the search preferences (AFAICT). So no way to say 'pay attention to capitalization' or 'match any substring' or, well, anything. No way to add wildcards into the match. Nothing. This makes the search really irritating when dealing with technical documents.

PDF support

While I appreciate the PDF support on Kindle these days it is not really very usable. The problem is that the type size is not alterable and the screen contrast makes the 'print' hard to read.

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