40 Reasons Not to Buy a Kindle

Recently, we published a post covering 50 reasons to buy a Kindle. Now, here are 40 reasons not to buy a Kindle!

Update: The biggest reason not to buy a Kindle might be that a new Kindle (and a few new Kindle Fire Tablets) might get announced on September 6th, 2012. Please do keep that in mind.

#1 A book is a book is a book – For some people, physical books mean much more than the content in them. These people become very attached to the touch, the smell, the feel, the look and the physical vessel of the book. An eBook can never replace physical books for these people since there is no nostalgia or history associated with eBooks for them. If you are 100% sure the physical book is something you’re going to miss terribly then you should not buy a Kindle.

#2 The bookshop experience – Visiting a neighboring bookshop, going through the vast collection of books for hours together, sipping coffee and reading a bit of many books is a great experience. That can never be replaced by an eReader. Note: B&N tries to replicate that by offering 1 hour ebook browsing in their bookstores. However, it’s not really the same as physically touching the books and going through the shelves.

#3 Limited collection of books – Not all books are available as eBooks for the Kindle.

#4 Careful handling – You drop a book and it won’t break. In fact, a book invites you to toss it around and treat it with abandon. There is no such guarantee with an eReader like the Kindle. It needs to be handled carefully. Plus it isn’t safe around children.

#5 Single vendor lock-in – You can’t buy an eBook in the Barnes & Noble store and hope to read it in the Kindle. Well, at least for now. The amount of lock-in varies across eReaders – but it exists.

#6 No ePub support – ePub is an open standard for eBooks but Kindle doesn’t support it directly.

#7 No SD slot – An SD slot was available in the very first edition of Kindle. But Amazon removed it from the subsequent models. C’mon Amazon, it’s our eReader and we want to be able to add storage to it.

#8 Battery that has to be charged – Though the Kindle has a long battery life, one still needs to recharge it frequently. One more device to charge.

#9 Kindle app – The Kindle app is available for the iPad, iPhone, Android tablets/phones and virtually every other device out there. We can even download books from Amazon to our laptop and read them in a browser. Why buy a Kindle, when you can get the ebooks on pretty much every device you already own?

#10 International usage is not optimal – We can take the Kindle to any country, but there are things to be mindful of. Whispernet is free within US, but roaming charges apply in some countries.

#11 Proprietary eBook format – Amazon eBooks use a proprietary format (AZW) and Amazon has not released a reading app for certain devices.

#12 Sponsored screen-savers/offers – Some people may not like to look at ads on their eReader! This was the only device that was free of ads, but now some of the Kindle models come with it.

#13 Quality of eBooks – Since Amazon allows individual authors to upload books directly, the quality of the books may not always be up to the mark. Traditional publishers have qualified editors and generally proof-read the draft multiple times before publishing a book. Even Publisher published books often have mistakes in the ebook versions.

#14 Remote deletion – Amazon can remotely delete a book you have purchased in your Kindle. It happened with a book called 1984 (George Orwell) as the publisher did not have the rights to publish the book. So, although unlikely, it might happen that you buy a book that was uploaded illegally, and then you’d lose that book. Amazon would refund you but you’d lose your notes.

#15 Slow and Awkward Page Turns – Page turns are slow (they seem slow) and every 5th/6th page turn there is a strange black screen flash (to clear up the screen).

#16 Extremely limited browsing – There is an experimental browser available, but with limited web-browsing capabilities. The eInk Kindles’ browser is like taking a trip back to 1991.

#17 Insufficiently Small size – You can’t carry the Kindle in your trouser pocket/shirt pocket without looking like a clown. Is that a Kindle in your pocket or did your pants grow a tumor?

#18 Does not Age well – With time, finger prints/dust/scratches on the screen may affect the reading experience. If you crack the screen or scratch the casing it stays forever.

#19 You might not find the perfect font – Though the font-size and font-type can be adjusted for eBooks, it’s difficult with some books and newspapers and magazines to find the perfect font size and type. Also, the number of font types offered are very limited.

#20 Black & White – Except the Kindle Fire, all the Kindle models can reproduce only black, white and shades of gray. It’s difficult to read colorful magazines and illustrated children’s books on the Kindle. Ditto for science textbooks and college textbooks that involve lots of photos.

#21 Blog Subscriptions – Kindle users may need to pay to read some blogs and online magazines, even though these are free to read over the PC. This is due to wireless charges. However, it doesn’t make sense for people who have WiFi Kindles or those who downloads blogs via WiFi.

#22 Few textbook options – Only a few textbook publishers have released their textbooks as eBooks. The chances of you being able to get all your required textbooks for the semester in Kindle format are slim to none unless you’re an English major.

#23 Absence of Color E-Ink – The technology is available, but it’s not been brought to the Kindle yet. Cost of color E-Ink is another issue. eInk Technology evolves as fast as a Glacier. Perhaps that’s why Amazon chose to name its latest Cloud SErvice offering Glacier – In honor of the rapid (in geological time frames) evolution of eInk technology.

#24 Limited device support – You can transfer your eBook from a Kindle to any other Kindle supported device, but there is a limitation to how many devices (registered to your account) can hold the same book. This is decided by the publisher and a maximum of six devices are allowed, at most. Note: This is in honor of those people who complain that with a book they could share it infinite times but with a Kindle at most 6 people at one time can read it and you can’t share unless you give people your Kindle.

#25 Navigation and Missing Page Numbers – It’s difficult to flip to a particular page quickly, especially if you don’t know the page number. Amazon decided it’s going to punish people asking for page numbers – It’s adding them into books, but the page numbers don’t show unless you press the Menu button. That’s what happens when you force developers to add features they don’t want to add.

#26 Large screen Kindle is Expensive – The Kindle DX is the only model that has a large screen (9.7”, diagonal), but it’s priced quite high. Additionally, there isn’t anything matching an A4 or Letter size sheet of paper.

#27 Limitations due to Price and it being an Electronic Device – Kindle is much more expensive than a book plus it’s an electronic device. That limits what situations you would use it in. You have to be very careful around water. Reading it in the tub or on the beach is a big risk (even with a protective case).

#28 Only for reading books – Unlike a tablet (which is an all-purpose device), the Kindle can be used only for reading books & magazines (except the Kindle Fire). Notice how people who don’t read much keep complaining about ‘what if I want to do more than just read?’.

#29 Notes, bookmarks – It is possible to take notes and have bookmarks in eBooks, but they are difficult and take more time (when compared to a physical book). Also they are a royal pain to look up – they aren’t just there like they would be in a physical book.

#30 Keyboard – Not all Kindle models have a keyboard. So, text input may take a longer time with these models. In fact, the $79 Kindle WiFi which neither has a keyboard nor a touchscreen is absolutely terrible for adding notes.

#31 Can’t read in the dark – You can’t read from the Kindle on your bed with all the lights switched off. There is an accessory called ‘glowlight’ which you can attach, but it comes at an additional cost and some inconvenience. Note: Books suffer from this drawback too, but please don’t remind the Pureness of Physical Books people of this – they will stop inviting you to their Jane Austen Tea Parties.

#32 Multiple versions – If you want the same book as a digital version and as a hard-copy, you need to buy it twice. This is one of the strangest things.

#33 Lack of modularity – Kindle is not a modular device. You can’t add 3G or Wi-Fi later on, if you want to. This is something most electronic devices suffer from these days – It’s planned obsolescence masquerading as ‘trying to cut prices’ and ‘trying to make devices thin’.

#34 Text-to-speech/X-Ray only available on some Kindles – These features are available only for the touch-screen based Kindle models. So if you buy a Kindle Fire or a Kindle WiFi you are out of luck.

#35 Page turn buttons – Except the Kindle models with a keyboard, other models don’t have physical page turn buttons. This is a royal pain if you read a lot and would rather not exercise your wrists and fingers every time you read.

#36 International users have less range, have to pay more – People can buy eBooks for their Kindle from anywhere, but international users need to pay an additional credit card currency conversion charge, in order to pay in US Dollars. Amazon doesn’t accept payments from Paypal. The selection of books is also limited and international users often miss out on free book offers and deals.

#37 Awkward Folders/Organizing – It is difficult to organize eBooks into folders and edit/delete them in bulk, using the interface provided on the Kindle. This is another example of what happens when you force developers to make features they don’t want to make. Kindle Fire doesn’t have folders at all. Pretty sure there’s some inside Amazon joke about ‘making people wait for Folders’ and ‘users having to search through 3,657 books to find that Science Fiction book they wanted to read’.

#38 Cookbooks don’t look as good and Kindles are risky in the Kitchen – You would want to read from your cookbook in the kitchen. But would you feel safe to use a Kindle in the kitchen? What about the missing high quality pictures? Your Tiramisu Cake looks like the Gobi Desert (on the Kindle that is, let’s hope the outcome is better in the kitchen).

#39 You don’t own the book – Well, if you own the book, you should be able to sell it (in a second-hand bookshop) or donate it, right? Can you do it with eBooks? You’re buying a license. Which is amusing and sad given that you’re paying the same (or sometimes more) to get a license.

#40 Kindle Fire – Kindle Fire is neither an eReader, nor a full-fledged tablet. So the twin questions are – Should you get a Tablet that is aimed at reading (somewhat) instead of a Kindle? Should it be the Kindle Fire or the Nook Tablet? Kindle Fire confuses things.

As you can see from the list above, there are quite a few things to ponder before you buy a Kindle.

Kindle 3 cons from Kindle 3 Reviews

Now that the Kindle 3 is in lots of readers’ hands it’s interesting to see all the Kindle 3 cons they are mentioning in their Kindle 3 reviews.

Please note that there are very few complaints – This post might seem scary because it’s leaving out the hundreds of positive things said and noting down only people’s thoughts on Kindle 3 cons.

Will add my own thoughts wherever possible regarding how valid these concerns are.

Kindle 3 Cons – The Significant Ones

Here are some of the Kindle 3 cons that seem like they might be important issues –

  1. Lack of library books. A few people have mentioned that they chose Nook or Sony instead of Kindle only because of the lack of support for library books. This is a real issue.
  2. Lack of ePub support. This is usually mentioned in connection with library books. However, a few people also mentioned it independently. Don’t see how this is relevant. If you feel very strongly about ePub then this is an issue – not otherwise. The only significant way in which it currently impacts readers is lack of support for Library books.  
  3. Freezing – Kindle 3 is freezing on some PDFs, some websites, and rarely in other situations. That’s what it seems like from the forums and from my experience. This might be a real issue and might need a software fix. This does happen – not often enough to be a big issue but often enough that you can’t disregard it.
  4. There might be variation in screen quality. Have taken a lot of photos of my Kindle 3 and the review unit Amazon sent me and can’t really find anything conclusive – So the probability is low but not zero. Lots of people look at the same thing and see different things so it’s quite possible that the screens are all within 5% to 10% of the same basic improved level of screen contrast.
  5. The size of the screen isn’t conducive to PDFs. This really isn’t the Kindle 3’s fault. It does very well as this Kindle 3 PDF post shows. However, if you’re expecting to be able to read PDFs page by page you’re going to be disappointed – the screen is 6″ and not an A4 size sheet of paper.
  6. The thinner page turn buttons have got some people upset. You can hold the Kindle 3 along the side edge (a tiny bit to the back so you don’t press down on it) and then this shouldn’t be a problem.
  7. The 5-way being next to Back and Home means you sometimes accidentally press Back. The solution to this is to keep your thumb over the 5-way centre button and then move down or up or left or right from this central position to press the inside edges of the up,down, left, and right buttons. This works much better.
  8. The 5-way and page turn buttons take a little getting used to. There’s no way around it – you have to spend a little time to get familiar with them.
  9. There are no number keys. You have to either use Alt+Top Row to get numbers (Alt+Q = 1, Alt+W = 2, etc.) or use the SYM key.
  10. The Kindle 3 Graphite gets pretty hot in direct sunlight. This is actually a pretty important point. It’s a bit obvious but it might mean that when it’s really hot outside you can’t take the graphite Kindle 3 out for reading. Hopefully, someone in a hotter place than Montreal will let us know if that really is the case.

That’s a good collection of Kindle 3 cons and it helps highlight that while Amazon did get things right with the Kindle 3 it is by no means perfect. You can find discussions of various Kindle 3 Cons as well as lots of Kindle 3 reviews at the official kindle forum.

Kindle 3 Cons – The Interesting Ones

Here are some interesting Kindle 3 cons –

  1. A few people find the new size too small and the weight too low. They felt using the Kindle 3 with the cover fixed the issue.  
  2. A few people don’t like the new layout of buttons. The top complaint seems to be the power slider being at the bottom.
  3. There are some concerns about the Kindle 3 graphite not disappearing in the background as well as a white Kindle would. For me there was no difference and in fact the better screen contrast of the Kindle 3 helps make it more engrossing than Kindle 2. If we were to compare the white Kindle 3 and the black Kindle 3 perhaps there’s some difference – Haven’t tried it so don’t know.
  4. Concerns about the weight of the lighted case.  Well, it’s 7.8 ounces.
  5. Concerns about the uneven lighting the Lighted Cover provides. Well, you can read the entire screen but the top corner (that is closest to the light) is brighter than the opposite corner (which is the case with every reading light in my experience).
  6. It’s smaller and the bezel around it is narrower so you have to be careful how you hold it. Tip: You can only press the page turn buttons if you have downwards pressure on them – so just hold them with your fingers a little to the back of the side of the buttons. Try a few positions and you’ll see what I mean.
  7. PDFs still can’t be downloaded using the web browser.
  8. Several people are finding that they need to try a few times to connect to WiFi. Sometimes it’s a WiFi network issue solved by resetting the WiFi network or changing the type of encryption by choosing ‘Enter other WiFi network’ in Kindle 3’s WiFi dialog.
  9. Sometimes the browser will cause a problem where the top bar of the browser with the url etc. stays even after leaving the browser. A reset (slide and hold power button for 15 seconds) fixes this bug.

There’s also this interesting tip on finding out information about WiFi and 3G network –

Go to Settings page and type in 311 or 711 or one of the other numbers listed below –

311– providers
411– one page of info
611– now 6 pages of info on everything 3G communication
711– wi-fi

It’s interesting that most of the complaints stem from a core group of people. You have to appreciate their desire to point out each and every flaw in the Kindle 3 so that prospective owners are fully aware that the overwhelming number of positive Kindle 3 reviews don’t mean the Kindle 3 is perfect.

Please do read the kindle 3 user review post which covers what Kindle 3 owners love about the Kindle 3. Also, my kindle 3 review includes kindle 3 strengths and weaknesses. You can get the Kindle 3 at Amazon for $189.

the George Orwell fiasco – attacking a symptom instead of the cause

The Internet Mass Media have found yet another reason to attack Amazon.

Thousands of people who’ve never owned a Kindle are enflamed by how inappropriately Amazon has treated some people. Many of them are even claiming that this is the reason they’ll never buy a Kindle – conveniently switching from ‘no color’ or ‘i read on my iPhone’ to ‘it’s so 1984’.

Some even managed to add the obvious non-fact that this was a legal copy the publisher wanted recalled. Thankfully they clarified it once they found out they were wrong.

 There’s no denying that Amazon is to blame.

However, everyone is being rather short-sighted here. Once the pirated books had been sold, Amazon was in a catch-22 situation –

  1. It either recalls the books and refunds customers (and gets some of them upset). 
  2. It tells publishers that pirated books are removed – however, ones already sold won’t be recalled (and gets some publishers upset). 

The Internet Mass Media were going to attack it in either case. Even if Amazon sent a hard-cover book and flowers to every owner of a pirated 1984, the media would still crucify Amazon.

The Real Reason People should be upset with Amazon – Insufficient Policing

What everyone is missing here is the cause – Why were pirated books being sold in the Kindle Store?

You can look at it in two ways –

  1. It’s just a byproduct of a new store and a new way of selling books. In that case you’ll be likely to not mind too much.  
  2. It’s inexcusable – there should be strict policing to ensure nothing illegal ever happens. In this case you’ll be rather angry with Amazon.

There’s going to be the inevitable law-suit from 1 or more customers. There might also be a lawsuit from the Publisher.

From my perspective it’s just getting in the way of the progress of ebooks. 

Confirmation Bias – Why all the negative PR doesn’t matter

First – What is Confirmation Bias?

In psychology and cognitive science, confirmation bias is a tendency to search for or interpret new information in a way that confirms one’s preconceptions …

… and to irrationally avoid information and interpretations which contradict prior beliefs.

What this means is that people tend to do and believe what they really want to do and believe, and then rationalize it afterwards.

Just off the top of my head, here are a few of the numerous anti-Kindle ‘issues’ raised recently –

  1. Kindle account closed because of too many returns (of electronic goods). 
  2. The current 1984 george orwell fiasco. 
  3. The number of downloads limited fiasco.  
  4. The Kindle Books contract is too limiting.

People ‘warning’ users about Kindle are basically giving Amazon free publicity. People read the report and make up their own minds on whether Amazon acted fairly or unfairly.

An example of Confirmation Bias

One great example of this is where Cory Doctorow wrote on Boing-Boing about how messed up Amazon’s Kindle contract is. He quoted someone named Celia –

Celia sends us “an annotated copy of the Kindle contract. Based on my decidedly non-lawyerish interpretation of this contract and the annotations, I think it says that Amazon now owns everything it wants to own, and you’re out of luck if you don’t like that.”

A few lawyers added these comments –

#3 posted by thebestthing, July 9, 2009 1:24 PM

Haven’t looked at the full contract, but the excerpt quoted above is a standard assignment clause. I’m a lawyer and I insert that clause (or something similar in substance to it) in nearly every contract I draft. Seems fair to me.

#4 posted by william, July 9, 2009 2:01 PM

I’m always glad to bag on large corporations, but I don’t see the problem here …

You’re letting them distribute your book. They want to be able to sell their e-books business without having to track down eight zillion sellers and renegotiate. They’re saying that you can transfer your rights to somebody else as long as you notify them.

People who are attacking amazon on grounds that are personally important to them are just providing publicity, especially if their facts are wrong (the geardiary post, and the above example) or if their beliefs are not shared by the readers.

To the ordinary user – what matters much more than actual and perceived kindle flaws is value. 

People who get value from the Kindle will still buy it

If someone loves to read, and finds a Kindle valuable they’ll still buy it –

  1. Every single article attacking the Kindle creates awareness of the Kindle.
  2. At that point people use their own brains and beliefs to make a decision.

The Internet is not TV where you can put a supermodel next to your product and the world’s ugliest dog next to your competitor’s product and brainwash people.

  1. If customers feel that the Kindle is a good fit for them, they then buy it.
  2. They buy a Kindle even if the first time they got to hear of it, it was because Person X was decrying its use of DRM.

The only effective way of hurting the Kindle is indifference. Thankfully for Amazon, most anti-Kindle sites and people won’t figure that out for a few years.