Why Kindle ?

I have my Kindle 2 for over a year now and since the launch of iPad in April, people keep asking me a boring question, that is – “Why Kindle ?”. And of course, the question always follow by another equally boring one, that is – “Why not iPad ?”. In most cases, I answer the two questions with another question – “How many books have you read in the past 12 months ?”.

“Errh … may be one or two.” is the typical answer. And I think they answer their own questions.

Late last month, Amazon launched the Kindle 3 and Jeff Bezos was interviewed by the acclaimed interviewer and broadcast journalist, Charlie Rose. And now I know, what’s the best answer to these questions.

Straight from Jeff Bezos:

“I would say something though like we’re trying to get out of the way.  We’re not trying to create an experience.  We want the author to create the experience.  You know, if you’re going to read Nabokov or Hemmingway or we want us creating the experience for.  That’s not our job.  Our job is to provide the convenience.  That you can get books in 60 seconds, that you can carry your whole library with you so that you don’t get hand strain, so the device doesn’t get hot in your hands, so that it doesn’t cause eye strain, so that the battery life lasts a month, so you never get battery anxiety

Now people say why don’t you add a touch screen?  Well, the reason we don’t want a touch screen is if we’re going down that decision path, we say, okay, a touch screen and the current technology for touch screens — it’s called capacitive touch — it’s a layer that goes on top of that display.
 It adds glare.  The first thing that you do when you add a touch display is that you add a little extra layer of glass or plastic and a little bit of glare.  So it’s very easy from an engineering point of view to add a touch screen but it’s not the right thing if you’re making no compromises and that’s our point of view on this.  We want a device that’s for uncompromised reading and guess what?  Our approach is working.”

Yes, if you read lots of books a year, in long-form reading style, then you need Kindle. Period.

Author: Michael Yung

Michael possessed over 30 years of experience in Information Technology with focuses on complex application development, database technologies and IT strategy. He also spent the last 20 years in Internet technology, eCommerce development / operations, web usability, computer security and Public Key Infrastructure technologies.

17 thoughts on “Why Kindle ?”

  1. I’ve had the Kindle 2 for almost a year and the amount of books I read increased tenfold.

    That being said, I prefer to read books using the Kindle app on the iPad because the touch interface is easier and more intuitive for me – navigation and bookmarks – and I don’t need to clip on a light for reading at night. Plus the iPad does a much better job on PDF files in my opinion. On the other hand, the much lighter weight of the Kindle makes it easier to hold in one hand for longer periods of time.


    1. Hi Spike,

      I read a lot on the road, on the bus, plane, subway etc. … quite frankly Kindle is the only viable option for one-hand holding and reading. However, indeed iPad is better for PDF files.


  2. Hi Michael,

    I just pre-ordered kindle 3 to HK.. and really hope they will send shipping confirmation soon after Sept 8th. However, I’m just staying temporarily in HK and will go back to Jakarta, Indonesia in Feb.

    My question is, will I still need to apply the tricks to buy ebooks for kindle 2 later when I’m in Indonesia (bearing in mind that I have HK credit card)?
    Or since it’s a global edition (even few countries with no whispernet & wireless can get kindle) it should have no problem with any credit card billing address?

    thanks before!


    1. Hi Nindy,

      Glad to know that you’re getting a Kindle 3. In your case, I think no trick is needed as you already have properly registered the account with HK credit card and HK address (don’t forget to register the Kindle device with Whispernet when you receive it in September). The only trick you may need is to bypass the location check such that you can check the bigger US book selections.

      And since Kindle is not yet supported in Indonesia yet, so I wonder the Whispernet will work at all.

      Hope it helps and enjoy your new toy soon.


  3. wow thanks a lot..!! that’s a quick reply..

    I personally don’t mind to purchase e-book from PC and then transfer it to kindle. So if whispernet not working, it should not be a problem at all.. CMIIW

    well I’m still researching for operating a kindle outside their “area” (which I still don’t understand, why Singapore isn’t on their list??) haha.. overall.. i’m so excited..!!

    thanks again Michael..


  4. Hi There Michael,

    You have an interesting discussion here. Would you know if Kindle 2 can be used in Malaysia? Buying books and using Whispernet? Say using local credit card with a US address? Does that work?

    I am thinking of buying Kindle 2 from US but am not sure if I can use it here Appreciate your input, thanks



    1. Hi Louisa,

      Glad you find the stuff here useful. As you’re staying in Malaysia, so no, Kindle 2 or 3 and eBooks are not yet available in country. And in other words, you will need the special tricks to buy the Kindle like a US citizen and then ship it back to your country. To buy the Kindle 3, you can go thru those Onenow, Vpost sevices. To buy eBooks, you will need an Amazon account with US credit cards (or one with US billing address).

      One more thing, for Kindle 2, I think you can easily get cheap one in other channels, but you need to make sure the device has been deregistered such that you can later register to your Amazon account.

      Hope it helps.


  5. Hi Michael, I am aware I am a little late in joining your discussion but I am in the process of finalizing my Kindle 3 purchase and hoping to have some answers. 🙂 – Hope you don’t mind.

    We are from the U.S and have U.S C.Cards. I am also signed onto Amazon account as a U.S resident. However, we have relocated to China and the next best shipping option is to Hong Kong. I am leaning towards the added 3G feature but am worried that I’ll have to pay more for my e-books through whispernet or even through WI-FI. Is there a difference in physically having the Kindle 3 shipped to U.S and then bringing it out or it’s ok paying as a U.S Customer and having it shipped to Hong Kong. Will my benefits be the same as if I am a U.S resident?

    Many, many thanks!!!


    1. Hi Audrey,

      Thanks for visiting the blog and it’s never too late to join the discussion. In your case, it makes no difference if you order it in US and ship to HK, or ship to US then bring it to China. And since Kindle 3 is not officially support in China, there is not much use to have 3G (unless you also spend lots of time in HK where Kindle 3 is supported in 3G + WiFi), and you can purchase / synchronize book with WiFi only.

      And as far as I know, you will still have minor problem in book selection as the Amazon store will check the region and then offer books available in that region – probably due to license right issue.

      Hope it helps.


  6. Hi Michael,

    Thanks for your quick response.
    I realized that 3g wasn’t a very good option for me but I can’t purchase the “wifi only” Kindle. 😦
    But I am assuming that there will be no limitations for me at the Amazon bookstore if I purchase books online with my U.S credit card/account? I have VPN with U.S ip. Does that help?



  7. 🙂 Sorry, I finally figured out being able to buy the “wifi” only kindle. Lol…a terrible oversight of mine. But I also spoke to a Kindle/Amazon representative and he confirmed that if I have a US account, then nothing changes. I will be able to access all books at their lowest price. I am still swaying towards the 3G as more and more reviewers are saying that you can actually access 3G in China for free? – This I have yet to confirm. Do you know anything about this?
    And we travel quite a bit the rest of the world and if I can check my gmail on the go, without paying extra and without the hassle of looking for a wifi hotspot, then I’m sold. Thanks so very much for your help!!!


    1. Yes, indeed many friends of mine can check email thru 3G in China for free, but I suspect they can do it only in Southern China cities like Shenzhen, but not sure about cities up north like Beijing.

      But if you travel a lot, then yes go for 3G version … once you tried buying and downloading books anytime, anywhere, you won’t look back …

      Hope it helps.


  8. We’re in Guangzhou. Hopefully 3G works as well. 🙂
    That’s it – I’m going for the 3G!
    Really appreciate your input!!!


  9. I own a kindle 3 wifi+3g and the hardware is great, the lack of touch screen support notwithstanding.

    But, and it’s a big but, it is next to useless for reading technical books from Amazon! Amazon just scans them in and doesn’t proofread them or make sure equations, figures, tables and the like come out properly. Amazon seriously need to lift their game here. If you need computing books at least you can get them from Safari or O’Reilly, where they actually give a crap about the quality of their electronic editions.

    Also the PDF reader is hopeless. It’s only usable if you trim the white space from books with PDF Scissors or something similar on your PC first. Even then you will be pretty much stuck with the level of zoom you selected when trimming with PDF Scissors.

    Yes you can zoom in on the Kindle but you have to do it for every single page you view. When you turn the page you will keep the same magnification but the position will be the top left of the document AND you can’t get it to the proper position without going through the whole zoom process again! The shift 5 way navigator nudge thing only works with the initial zoom.

    I was also disappointed with reading Kindle format programming books on the Kindle, even when they were properly converted ones. This was because you can only “turn the page”, you can’t scroll up or down a little to make a code sample fit into one screen. This can make it difficult to understand. I found this limitation difficult to justify when the “pages” aren’t pages at all, just what fits on screen using the current font, spacing and rotation.

    Paradoxically I found the best solution to this problem was to use the PDF version from Safari and trim it to make it readable with PDF Scissors. Then I only had the problem of hard to understand split code samples when they actually were split in the print edition as well.

    Also you can’t get PDFs onto the device without resorting to using a PC. Possibly you can email it to your device, but I haven’t tried that. The most logical way of accessing a PDF, viewing it from the Internet, doesn’t work as the browser is a bit special and it doesn’t know that simply saving a PDF into documents/ will work.

    In short if you need to read novels or other text without special formatting, or if you can get a PDF version that you can mess around with on your PC before reading, a Kindle might be for you. Otherwise, forget it.


    1. Thanks Cian !! Indeed Kindle is good for “reading”, but not “referencing” … or put it this way it is not the right tool for text with special formatting. I think the next version of Kindle may address this issue as well.


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