And now I have a Kindle Fire!

Ok, so my great excuse for acquiring these ebook readers is that I want to be at the cutting edge of the field of digital publishing, as an author and as a person working for a publishing house, so I have to know the hardware. Which, when you think about it is a pretty good excuse. But really, honestly, I just love playing around with new gadgets, seeing what I can do with them, and seeing how these technologies are developing. It’s pretty mind-blowing that the cost of the Kindle has dropped so much, and that tablets (with the iPad setting the pricing standard at $499 and other tablets actually coming in as more expensive) have become so surprisingly affordable in such a short time. Now you can pick up the Kindle Fire and the Nook Color for 199, with the Nook getting a nice hardware upgrade while retaining its form factor. (That’s the major selling point for me for the Nook. Sure its guts are powerful and all that, but what you notice immediately, and what is aesthetically pleasing, is there’s a nicely-designed and unique feel to it, while the Fire kind of just looks like a little BB Playbook).

So in the span of a year, I have owned and gone crazy over four ebook readers now. I started with a CDR King reader, which was so (seemingly) amazingly cheap at a shade under 4K. With its LCD screen and limited customizability, as well as lack of wifi and problems reading different formats, well, there were some real limitations to it. But if you wanted to read PDFs (and I did get to read quite a number on it) then it was a pretty reliable, if not so sturdy machine. After about two months of use, I gave it to my sister, who didn’t use it for another two months. Then when we tried turning it on, it just wouldn’t. Still, I suppose if it had been taken care of better, it would have been alright. And shelling out 4K for a reader at the time was a good deal, considering that the Kindle was selling in some stores here for as much as 2oK.

After that I picked up a Kindle 3, which was just a great product. I still miss reading on e-ink. And the battery life, oh the battery life. If you want something just for pure text reading, it’s an e-ink reader that you want.With the new Kindles going for just $99 I am expecting these to be a major seller this holiday season, abroad and hopefully even here in the Philippines.

Next I picked up a Nook Color for my birthday, supposedly. Again I found a wonderful excuse to get a new ebook reader. The Nook Color, as I already mentioned, boasts great design, a nice interface, and a good range of apps. Also, it made for a very good reading experience.

Now I know the issues with LCD/LED screens and the possibility of eye strain. But I’m a gamer who has gone for 8-12 straight gaming binges, so I’ve never had any problems reading on them myself. And while I love reading text on the e-ink displays, the full color displays allow me to read comic books and other colored content. So I think if you’re sticking with text, the cheaper, easier-on-the-eyes e-ink readers are great, but the tablets just offer so much that you can do. It’s worth the tradeoffs I think.

So now here we are with the Kindle Fire. And while I was worried about proprietary issues, getting books into it, and other things, it’s been working like a dream so far. I’ve read about wifi problems, as well as people having problems with the buttons on it, and i haven’t encountered those problems either. We will have to see as the week wears on, but thus far it’s a very happy early-christmas acquisition for me.

I hope that this extends not only to book geeks like me, but to the larger public. Who knows, maybe parents will give their kids e-ink readers to encourage them to read. And in a best-case scenario, people buy tablets to play Angry Birds, they get bored, and they wind up downloading some books and reading. I have no fear for the death of literature or books, only the greatest optimism that a new revolution in the way we read and experience books is so happily upon us.

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