Kindle – The Negatives

This post forms an important building block for The Kindle Decision aka the $400 Question – Should I Buy a Kindle?

The main themes of discontent spring from the ‘back button getting inadvertently pressed’, a lack of aesthetic beauty, no velcro on the cover, slow delivery times and/or the waits, and lack of good customer support. Interestingly, these are issues that for a V1 product are GREAT i.e. the Kindle is hitting the ball out of the ballpark for its major aims – the drawbacks are things that are easiy fixable in V2 and v3 and to be quite honest, customers are still giving the Kindle 5 and 4 stars.   Anyways, here are the drawbacks (I’ve listed at the end the set of drawbacks that ‘tertiary users and non owners’ have listed since those people have no business telling book lovers and afficiandos what sort of device they should want)[In Progress]

  1. Aesthetically Challenged
  2. Not the iPhone (not from owners – who don’t care)
  3. Monochrome (though people don’t really seem to care – representational systems ???)
  4. Not Cool (again owners don’t care and in fact loveit and think it’s great. so thisis from reviewers)
  5. Expensive (again only some owners think it’s expensive)
  6. Blog subcriptions cost $1 (no owner mentions this – so again this is a case of bloggers not knowing what readers want)
  7. Browser is experimental (people loved the browser)
  8. Difficult to navigate newspapers (doesn’t really come up – not sure how many users bought newspapers)
  9. Only a limited list of newspapers and weekly magazines.
  10. Prices for newspapers and weekly magazines were not all that great.
  11. When reading a kindle-book, it is impossible to know which page of the physical/printed version of that text you are on. In short, you could never cite the page number of a kindle-book. You could exchange the “kindle location” with other users of the device, but that’s not going to get you very far in a footnote.
  12. No coverage in Alaska – Michael Dingman writes: Tell me when I can use it here in Alaska. If it supported WiFi as well as EVDO I could.  (Not in Montana either.
  13. Delivery was late.
  14. Kindle Froze up and had to call customer service for help. 
  15. White, all buttons design is not good.
  16. When you pick up, put down, handle, etc you might hit a page button. I’ve learned to lock it before I put it down to prevent accidental page turning.
  17. My only problem is that I can’t use my gift cards from Amazon to pay for my new way to buy books.
  18. I really don’t like the way it renders links in a vertical list (even if there is only one) when you click on a line containing the link. It requires extra clicks and on the Kindle’s slow display, it can be downright annoying.
  19. If I could “fix” one thing, it would be having the page turning bars shorter so that when handling the Kindle I don’t accidentally turn a page. This has tobe the number one gripe. 
  20. Cover is less than the best – a little piece of Velcro would be awesome. Velcro issues reoccur.
  21. I’m rating the Kindle at 4 stars instead of 5 because the list of available Kindle editions is still relatively small. Amazon has made a good start, but it’s only a start. I’m disappointed when I can’t find a Kindle edition of a new release and after paying $400 for the Kindle I’m now reluctant to by paper editions.
    1. My only unhappiness so far is that there aren’t enough old titles available for this thing…I’d like to get Kindle versions of my favorite books, the ones I like to reread repeatedly
  22. I’m sure if it’s working properly the Kindle is great, but the lack of good customer service has turned me off from the product. after 6 week it arrived defective.
  23. [Edit: Honestly, this is a big, big faux pas on AMazon's part - simply unforgiveable] Kindle works great but I was surprised when I found that a fiction book (Blasphemy) I was interested in purchasing cost $20 for the Kindle version and $15 for the hard cover version from Amazon. 
    1. Another Case: Only had one negative experience. Wanted Julie Garwood’s new book, Shadow Music. Came out on 12/26. Wasn’t available for Kindle purchase until 12/28 at a cost of just over $20, much higher than the cost of $9.99 I was expecting. She’s my favorite author so I paid it. What upset me was that something kept telling me to check back and on 12/30 they dropped the price to $9.99. Felt like I’d been taken. Will know better the next time I’m looking for a new release.
  24. The two button wakeup is a pain, especially as it requires two hands.
  25. The cover interferes with the2 button wakeup.
  26. I do wonder why the wireless/on-off switches were placed on the back instead of on top, but this is a small issue to me.
  27. You miss out on some content due to the very poor display of images. They are rendered in 4 levels of gray and are often not recognizable. Color or improved grayscale would be a welcome addition for version 2.
  28. As has been discussed ad nauseam, the Kindle is not a particularly elegant design. The plastic feels cheap to me, and the device very breakable. With reasonable care, though, I don’t think you need to unduly worry about the Kindle being fragile.
  29. I would like the power buttons to be on the front of the device, with perhaps a sliding “lock” feature, as in many MP3 players.
  30. A case of Bezos setting wrong expectations ;) – Jeff Bezos told Charlie Rose on Rose’s TV show that one could download books “anywhere.” Not true. The area in which one can download are limited pretty much to the populated areas. We wanted to use the Kindle in our RV and while travelling to Nicaragua. We thought we could use it wherever there is cell phone service. Wrong.
  31. Ummm – some people want a backlight and some say its not necessary … One Reviewer: My only hope would be that future models include “backlighting” in the device.
  32. The on and off button is on the back BUT you have a short cut in the manual (yes – it was even fun reading the manual on the Kindle) that doesn’t fully shut it off but does hibernate it. 
  33. DRM and what exactly do you ‘own’. [More thoughts on this later]
  34. How do I lend books to my friends (to be very honest though – at some level i don’t really mind since i have lost so many great books and had to rebuy them or not have them anymore that i don’t mind not being able to lend – i’d much rather send them a chapter] + 6 kindles on one account means i can share with my family and close friends anyways
  35. Lack of support for common file formats (i think this is a separate story in itself – however like the ‘how to convert mobipocket books, i’ll be adding more sections).
  36. A really interesting note on a drawback/issue that a user points out -

    Secondly, Amazon has installed software that records what I am reading and when I am reading it and sends this information back to Amazon. I really don’t see why Amazon should know what books I am reading and when. They will know what I have bought anyway, as I have to buy kindle books through them – why should they know that I read book such-and-such for 2 hours at 1 am last night etc. etc. It starts to feel like something out of George Orwell’s 1984.
    I presume that apart from marketing, the reason is to detect if you are abiding by Amazons terms and conditions. If you are not (for example, if I did figure out a way of sharing the kindle book I bought with my wife on her kindle) this spy-ware will detect it and Amazon can then cancel your Kindle service (you will also lose access to all the books you have read).
    I really do not like the idea that Amazon could suddenly remove access to my whole reading collection that I might build up over several years.
    While I understand that Amazon and book publishers in general need to protect themselves from illegal copying of their books, I feel that the way they have made the Kindle and the way the terms and conditions of this product are written takes away the users rights and also their privacy. Until these things change I will (sadly) have to stick to conventional books.
    What a shame.
    Here is a quote directly from Amazons terms and conditions for the kindle
    “Information Received. The Device Software will provide Amazon with data about your Device and its interaction with the Service (such as available memory, up-time, log files and signal strength) and information related to the content on your Device and your use of it (such as automatic bookmarking of the last page read and content deletions from the Device). Annotations, bookmarks, notes, highlights, or similar markings you make in your Device are backed up through the Service. Information we receive is subject to the Amazon.com Privacy Notice.”
    I would also recommend visiting the following website relating to the direction the Kindle’s terms and conditions is leading us and how our right to read will be affected in future generations (and perhaps even this one):

    http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/right-to-read.html

4 Responses

  1. On 36: My son has a Kindle and I asked Amazon about this. He can share my books as long as the Kindles are on the same account and you can have 4 Kindle per account. So sharing a family isn’t a problem.

  2. “If I could ‘fix’ one thing, it would be having the page turning bars shorter so that when handling the Kindle I don’t accidentally turn a page. This has to be the number one gripe.”

    No it’s not. It’s #19.

    Good overview. Looks like the page-turn button would be to your liking now.

  3. It needs a way of lighting to be able to read in the dark. This is a must if reading in low lighted areas or especially in bed when your spouse is trying to sleep. Also, touch screen page turning rather than buttons would be a huge improvement.

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