Kindle & Me

I honestly have to say (and I doubt that anyone who knows me would disagree), I love my Kindle! To the extent that my beloved better half called it my second wife (or also mistress….jokingly, of course!). It has become my daily companion, coming with me nearly everywhere. But why did I get it? And what do I use it for?

I used to buy a lot of books. The majority of them were business and IT related, but also the occasional fiction. I also tend to buy in bulk whenever there’s a book sale going on, as it can be seen from the following picture:


(No, I haven’t read all of those SharePoint books, maybe never will…some of them are more for reference/lookup purposes).

However, multiple problems resulted:

a) My shelves were getting fuller and fuller, mostly with books that I only have an infrequent look at (in fact, the shelves were full, the books started to take over the cupboard as well)

b) In the near future, I’d run out of space to put my books (well, we just moved house, our first own place together, and those shelves I was talking about a minute ago do currently not exist yet, as doesn’t the cupboard; they were all in the old place, I have no appropriate furniture yet for the books, but I can already say right now that things won’t be easier)

c) My better half is slowly growing unhappier (even though she supports my purchases (she loves the nerd in me!), everything has its limits. I am blessed to have such an understanding and supportive wife, but of course I don’t want to take this for granted, so I know I had to slow down with my purchases)

And while I wish my "library" looked something like this:

Image(1)(Photo taken by rochelle, et. al.)

I fear it would soon more look like this:

(Photo taken by Daquella manera)

So, end of last year, I bought a Kindle. The idea was that I would start buying more digital books than physical books, a process that I had already started before that (many thanks to O’Reilly, InformIT, and Apress here, who have daily deals on ebooks!). Ever since, I bought less than a handful printed books!

As for its size and screen, I wasn’t totally sure if the 6" screen would be big enough. Also, I heard so many good things about its screen before, but didn’t quite understand how much better (or different) it is to a normal LCD screen. When I first took it out of the box, I saw a huge sticker on the screen that I wanted to remove. After trying to peel it off for 3 seconds I realised that it in fact WAS the display…. I’ve appreciated it ever since. The size is just right in my opinion, making the Kindle small enough to be carried around easily, but at the same time also big enough to allow comfortable reading (you can, of course, adjust the font size for ebooks).

The huge benefit for me now is that I can read more easily, more often, where I want, when I want, what I want. When I’m traveling to work in the morning, during lunch breaks, in the evening in bed, on the plane, and so on, I now have the possibility to just take the Kindle out of my bag, and continue reading one of the many books stored on it. I don’t have to bring 3 (more or less) heavy books on a business trip, and then think about the 4th one that I left at home but would prefer to read. If I’m in the mood for fiction, I have a good amount of books with me, if I want to increase my knowledge about SharePoint, the Kindle can help me.

Are there things that I don’t like about it? Well, of course there are. One big issue for me as someone residing in Singapore is that I can’t officially buy books from Amazon. You need to buy them from the US, with a US credit card (or UK, or Germany, though the US store is definitely bigger than the German one, and maybe also bigger than the UK store). It can be circumvented (more info here), but it’s a slightly troublesome process. If I were in the US, buying from Amazon would be as quick as clicking on the "Buy now with 1-Click" button. For me, it’s a few more steps (see the link I just mentioned for details). The other smaller issue I have with the Kindle is the way it displays PDFs. It’s just not fun in most cases to read an A4 sized PDF on the 6" Kindle screen. You can zoom in, but you would usually see only the top left quarter then (with the possibility to see the other 3 quarters as well, of course; but text usually flows all the way from the left to the right, so I never used this functionality). The better option is to rotate the screen and hold the Kindle in a horizontal position. That way, you can usually see the top third part of a page.

Of course, the Kindle is not the perfect device for everyone and each situation. As for reading those SharePoint books, for example, some of them are better read in a different style (applying your newly learned knowledge about how to create your own Web Part directly on your laptop while the book is still open next to you), and maybe even on a different device (laptop, iPad) / medium (well, printed book). So in the end, before buying a Kindle, think about what you would use it for.

But isn’t the iPad so much better??
I was pondering about getting an iPad instead of a Kindle as well. In the end, I looked at my needs, and that was solely reading books. For that purpose, the Kindle is the better choice (better display for reading, better battery life, smaller, thinner, lighter). If you want to do more (browse the web, play Angry Birds, be cool) the iPad might be a better choice.

Think about the difference between a car and a bicycle. A car is faster, more people fit in, in winter it’s warmer insider and in summer cooler (if you’ve got aircon), so much better than a bicycle. But what if your purpose is to drive those 2km to work everyday only? Would you get a car for that, or don’t you think that a bicycle is a better choice?

Would you buy it again?

Absolutely! I should have bough it much earlier, actually.

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Rene Modery

Having worked with SharePoint since 2007, Rene has been involved in and responsible for two Asia Pacific wide SharePoint implementations.Equipped with a Master’s degree in Information Systems and various relevant certifications, Rene keeps a keen interest in technology and how it can provide solutions to common problems, but also looks at the "business side of IT".He lives in Singapore with his wife and two cats. He has been awarded as a Office 365 MVP by Microsoft in April 2012