I’ve been using a Kindle for a couple of years (one of the older third gen models that’s now called a “Keyboard”) and have been mostly happy. It was light, portable and pleasant to read from, but there are a few things that have bugged me about it:
- It’s really, really, really difficult and frustrating to navigate through a book. If you want to skip forward or backward more than a handful of pages with the hardware page-turn buttons you have to navigate through a bunch of menu items, laboriously input a guessed location number, wait for the page to display, read a bit, try to remember if that part of the book is before or after the part you’re looking for, then repeat over and over again until you find what you’re looking for.
- The poor positioning of the on-off switch at the bottom edge of the Kindle, and the ease with which it can be held for 15 seconds by other things in my bag, meant that the device frequently reset itself and I would have to kill five minutes finding my place in the book again (see point one.)
- The lack of colour and general definition of the e-ink screen meant that books with graphs, diagrams or images were sort of ruined.
Anyway, a couple of weeks ago my Kindle died — just refused to turn on no matter what I tried — so I faced a decision: buy one of the newer Kindle Paperwhites or select an iPad Mini as my new e-reader. The iPad seemed a no-brainer in terms of navigating through books and better rendering of non-text elements, but I had four concerns: reading from an LCD screen, reading from an LCD screen that wasn’t retina, reading from an LCD screen in bright light situations, and weight. I must’ve spent an hour in the Apple Store playing with a display model, and then after speaking to a colleague who had recently made a similar switch from Kindle to iPad I decided to take the risk and buy it.
And I’m so, so glad I did. My little 16GB wifi unit was delivered a few days before Christmas and since then I’ve read two novels, several Kindle Singles, and I’m halfway through a third full-length book. Many hours of glorious holiday reading in a variety of locations including bed, lounge, outside in (non-direct) sunlight, and on planes, and I can safely say that I love reading from it. I honestly haven’t had any problems reading for long periods of time from the LCD screen, I don’t even notice that it’s not retina, and I haven’t had anything like the wrist cramps you can get from holding even a medium-sized paper book. Obviously, I can’t really read in direct sunlight now but if I’m honest with myself I can’t remember the last time I did that anyway.
My intention is to make sure I train my stupid, distractible brain to consider this iPad Mini my consumption device and not my interaction device — I only turn on the wifi to make book purchases or to use news and content apps (like Flipboard.) And even though I have email and Twitter and Facebook and whatever enabled on it, I’m being careful not to use them when I’m “consuming”.