Category Archives: gadgets

Amazon Kindle now available in the UK, but do I want one?

So, on surfing onto Amazon UK this morning I was faced with the following announcement:

Kindle in the UK

Kindle in the UK

For the past year or so I’ve been hearing about the ‘US Only’ Kindle, particularly on the This Week in Tech (TWiT) podcast. It not being available to me in the UK has not bothered me as I was convinced I neither wanted nor needed one. However, now I can get my hands on one, do I want one?

The Romance of Reading
I have an almost romantic attraction to books and for years have loved nothing better than picking up a new book and allowing myself to be consumed by its content. I’m not sure I’d get the same from an electronic screen, of which I get 8 hours of at work each day. The Amazon website does boast Paper-Like Display: Reads like real paper without glare, even in bright sunlight, which sounds good in theory, but can I really shrug off the feeling that I am reading a screen and allow myself to enjoy the experience as much as I do a book?

Money, Money, Money
First off, the Kindle itself will set me back $279 (£175.49) which is not an amount of money I am able to spend on a whim. Also, for some strange reason, the Kindle is not available from the UK Amazon and so ordering it from the US store leaves me open to more expense, as Amazon kindly point out: Your international shipment is subject to customs duties, import taxes and other fees levied by the destination country. Thing is, as you may have guessed, the thrill of getting a new gadget sometimes outweighs my need for said gadget.

The books themselves don’t seem to offer good value, at least not on the surface. I recently paid £8.99 for the hardback edition of Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol which I thought, and still do think, was an absolute bargain. To buy this from the Kindle Store (see next point) it would cost me $9.99 (£6.29) which is cheaper, but I don’t actually have the book, I just have an electronic copy and I’m one of those people who still buys CDs as I want something I can hold in my hand for the money I’ve spent. Maybe I’m being naive but I’m thinking a couple of pounds for a Kindle book is a reasonable price to pay.

Availability
Follow this link and you will see that The Lost Symbol is not actually available to me as a UK customer – why? How can Amazon expect me to buy a Kindle when the No.1 bestselling book in the world right now is not available? What else isn’t available and how long, if ever, do I have to wait for it to become available to me? There are certain books I like to read as soon as they come out and if I change the way I read books I expect to be able to read those books as soon as I am able to buy them from a bookshop.

Black and White Screen
Really? I read a lot of comic books and at some point I can imagine these will be available for the Kindle, but I don’t want to be reading them in black and white. There are of course many other books which have pictures and to not have them in colour just makes the Kindle version seem inferior and I won’t be getting the full experience as intended.

Usability
Maybe I’m wrong having never actually seen a Kindle, but there looks to be so many buttons around the area that I’d hold it that I’m almost certain I’m going to be pressing something I shouldn’t at some point. While we are on the topic of the keys, why do I need a keyboard? In a world that has become awash with touch screen technology, why can’t the Kindle employ this and give me either more screen or less bulk. Not having to carry around a big heavy hardback has its advantages, as does not running out of room to store books as is currently happening in our house.

These are just a few concerns I have and though my thoughts may come across quite negatively I suspect that’s to try to contain my own deep down urges to order one, because all the limitations aside, it’s a new piece of technology that I’d love to play with. Would I use it much/ That’s really besides the point, much like when I bought a Wii, PS3, PSP, DS – all of which have been used for just a few hours each!

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