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Reading the New York Times On a Kindle 2 193

Posted by kdawson
from the all-the-news-that's-fit-to-squint dept.
reifman links to his thorough and thoughtful review of the experience of reading a newspaper on the Kindle 2. "I've been eager to try The New York Times on the Kindle 2; here's my review with a basic video walk-through and screenshots. I give the Kindle 2 version of The Times a B. Software updates could bring it up to an A-. Kindle designers should have learned more from the iPhone 3G. Unfortunately, my Kindle display scratched less than 24 hours after it arrived. As I detail in the review, Amazon customer service was not very accommodating. Is it my fault — or will Kindle 2 evolve into an Apple 1G Nano-like $22.5M settlement? You can read about Hearst's e-reader for newspapers from earlier today on Slashdot."
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Reading the New York Times On a Kindle 2

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  • Is this a review of the Kindle itself? Or the Kindle experience? Seems to be a bit wishy washy to me.
  • by solder_fox (1453905) on Monday March 02, 2009 @02:55AM (#27037421)

    A friend of mine bought one for reading in the subway. He finds it great, and he points out correctly that for avid readers it's wonderful just from the standpoint of space conservation. For Manhattan-dwellers especially, that's a major selling point.

    It's a pretty good product--the only bad thing about it is from the publisher's standpoint, since IIRC it requires you to prepare your books in a new format (which is a not-insignificant undertaking) and Amazon has near-complete control over the pricing structure. (The pricing structure thing hurts authors, too.)

    Countering that is that it will make some books more accessible. It doesn't take much work to get books now, but the ability to have them in front of you and easily readable right away combined with sample chapters gives you at least part of the convenience of actually walking into a bookstore, only you get it anyplace you can get the data connection.

    I can't speak to the durability, though, because it's still a new toy. Give it a year and see how it holds up in different conditions. But overall, this is definitely a shiny product, in the good sense as opposed to the coefficient-of-specular-reflection-is-too-high sense. It'll probably really help Amazon once the economy picks back up, since more people will have the income to spend on a Kindle and they'll have had a chance to improve it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by iYk6 (1425255)

      the only bad thing about it is ... Amazon has near-complete control over the pricing structure. (The pricing structure thing hurts authors, too.)

      Doesn't this thing read pdfs and/or text files? If so, can't the authors sell their books from any website they want, for whatever price they want? Exactly how does Amazon exert control over the pricing structure?

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by d12v10 (1046686)

        You're forced to create an account and then send pdfs and text files to an email associated with the account for a fee ($0.20 per file or something like that). It's difficult, and Amazon has everything locked down.

        • by smart.id (264791)

          What do you mean by "locked down"? Do they check the txt/pdf to see if it's a copyrighted work?

          • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

            by peragrin (659227)

            No they just charge you for the privillege of reading your own work on your own device.

            • by flosofl (626809) on Monday March 02, 2009 @11:36AM (#27040439) Homepage

              No they just charge you for the privillege of reading your own work on your own device.

              Not true at all. I just spent the weekend converting all the e-books I had purchased on Baen's webscription site for the Kindle. Bean has a link in the download section of each book to "convert to Kindle format". You enter you kindle email and go. Now you can enter the email address @kindle.com and it will convert and use Whispernet to push it to the reader. That costs $0.10 per book. Or you can use the @free.kindle.com address. The conversion happens and a link is sent to download the e-book to your computer. It's then a simple drag and drop to the Kindle and you're good to go. That one costs nothing.

              Incidentally, this option is available for the "Free Library" section at Baen which has a pretty extensive collection of their published authors.

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by Fizzol (598030)
              Completely untrue. If you want the convenience of emailing documents directly to your Kindle over Whispernet there's a potential charge (they don't actually charge it). You can transfer a gazillion files to the Kindle over the USB cable for no charge.

              Don't people at Slashdot ever feel like they have to have to slightest knowledge about what they're commenting on? As some one else said, the amount of misinformation here is just STAGGERING.
        • by Zerth (26112) on Monday March 02, 2009 @04:01AM (#27037723)

          You're forced to create an account and then send pdfs and text files to an email associated with the account for a fee ($0.20 per file or something like that). It's difficult, and Amazon has everything locked down.

          .

          You obviously never even looked at the website, let alone read a review of the thing.

          I think they're kind of lame(no removeable storage, non-removable battery), but my wife recently got one, so I know that:

          A)You can(not must) send PDFs to an account for translation. It costs $.10 if you send it via the cell network(duh, that costs money). If you transfer them by computer, it costs $0.00 My wife, being an artsy type, has the Adobe suite, so she just converts them herself if they aren't just used as an image container.

          B)You can just plug it in a USB port and copy plain text to it like a thumb drive, albeit with no meaningful folder managment. She has loaded it up with a bunch of ebooks she already had in plain text, plus the aforementioned converted PDFs.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Kooonsty (1365027)

            You're forced to create an account and then send pdfs and text files to an email associated with the account for a fee ($0.20 per file or something like that). It's difficult, and Amazon has everything locked down.

            .

            You obviously never even looked at the website, let alone read a review of the thing.

            I think they're kind of lame(no removeable storage, non-removable battery), but my wife recently got one, so I know that:

            A)You can(not must) send PDFs to an account for translation. It costs $.10 if you send it via the cell network(duh, that costs money). If you transfer them by computer, it costs $0.00 My wife, being an artsy type, has the Adobe suite, so she just converts them herself if they aren't just used as an image container.

            B)You can just plug it in a USB port and copy plain text to it like a thumb drive, albeit with no meaningful folder managment. She has loaded it up with a bunch of ebooks she already had in plain text, plus the aforementioned converted PDFs.

            Something seems very wrong with the fact that a whole novel can be sent over a cell network for $0.10, but a text message of under 200 characters cost double that.

            • by Dun Malg (230075)

              Something seems very wrong with the fact that a whole novel can be sent over a cell network for $0.10, but a text message of under 200 characters cost double that.

              At this point, even a novel is an insignificant use of bandwidth. It's not about cost at all. It's about maximizing profit. As long as dodo teenagers continue to run up huge overage charges for exceeding their SMS limit, they'll keep charging like that.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Kismet (13199)

            I got my Kindle 2 last week. I never tried the original Kindle, nor any other ebook reader. I did read a lot of the forum chatter about issues such as no SD slot and only 1.4GB storage.

            So far, I've been really happy with it, other than the brief panic over my credit card company shutting down my account after the dozens of ebook downloads tripped their fraud sniffer.

            I'm not concerned about expandability. I've downloaded mostly the classics in literature and philosophy, including more than several entire col

            • by Zerth (26112)

              True, it is very readable, low stress, mostly decent contrast(the whites could be a little brighter).

              The only reason I really dislike the storage/battery issue is that if I used it, I'd use it a lot. While I do like physical books, I've never had a problem with reading on a screen so I have enough ebooks that even in plain text they'd fill hundreds of megs.

              I think my collection in their original formats(i.e. large) still fits on a 8 gig stick, but I stopped trying to carry it all with me lately, as a large

        • by Fizzol (598030)
          It's $0.10 per document. Amazon has never actually charged this fee, and customer service says they have no plans to at this time. If you're worried that you *might* get charged, you can instead send your files Amazon for free conversion and have the documents mailed back to you. For native document formats like text you can copy things over via the usb cable.

          Me, I just email everything to my Kindle. It's not in the least difficult, (a barely trained monkey could do it) and the Kindle is far from "locked
          • If you have to "Email" your stuff to it, it's locked down. Period. Denial is step 1 of the process sir.

            • by Brandee07 (964634)

              You don't have to, that's just how Amazon lets you convert stuff.

              You can still use MobiPocket Creator (owned by a company that is owned by Amazon) to convert documents (including PDFs) on your computer, and a USB cable to move a document to Kindle friendly format without ever sending emails.

              Also, Amazon has never sent me a denial. A few failures, when I was testing it to see exactly how complex a PDF it could handle, but no denials.

            • Does Amazon own the PDF format? No. Make a PDF with any program you want from any source you want, transfer over USB, STFU. Amazon does not control the process of getting books on the Kindle. They have OPTIONS to make it easier to do, and some people choose to pay for those.
        • You're just plain wrong.
          1. You create a Kindle account when you get a Kindle. This is tied to 2 Kindle Email address (yourname@kindle.com, and a free one) - you then tie YOUR email that you plan on sending pdfs/txt files from.
          2. Sending PDFs/txt files is simple: email them to one of your TWO Kindle email accounts - either the standard one which will push it out to your Kindle directly after converting the file (cost: $.10), or the free one that converts it and sits it in your Kindle account on Amazon.
          3. If you opte
          • 1. You create a Walkman account when you get a Walkman. This is tied to 2 Walkman email addresses...

            2. Sending MP3s is simple: email them to the standard account which will push it out to your Walkman directly after converting the file to ATRAC (cost: $.10),or the free one that converts it and sits in your Walkman account on Sony.com.

            3. If you opted for free, you download the ATRAC file to your PC, plug your Walkman in, and transfer it. Gee, that was TOTALLY UNACCEPTABLE WHEN SONY DID IT.

            FTFY, no charge t

            • How'd you buy anything from Amazon, genius? Yeah, with your account. Same with every fucking website in the world these days.
        • by dohnut (189348)

          You're forced to create an account...

          If you have a Kindle, 99.9% of the time you have an account. So I suppose you are allowed to say "forced".

          If you have an account (see above) you can send PDFs to one of two email addresses.

          1) "your kindle id"@kindle.com
          2) "your kindle id"@free.kindle.com

          If you send PDF to (1) Amazon will convert your file to its AZW format and wireless transfer it to your Kindle. There is a fee of $0.10 using this method.

          If you send the PDF to (2) Amazon will convert your file to its A

    • Note, an Ipaq is smaller, and you can convert any text on your computer with Overdrive ReaderWorks to .lit format for use with Microsoft Reader. I have read 300 books this way in the last 3 years. The Ipaq is cheaper than the Kindle, too. And did I mention it has Wi-Fi internet access and plays mp3s like an iPod too?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I recently tried a Kindle 2. The Kindle is much more *readable* than your back-lit display. The E-ink screen does not cause more stain on your eyes than reading a normal book. It's passively lit, and it looks very good. It takes a while to refresh a while page, but that's a small price to pay if you're reading pages at a time. And the E-ink retains the image when the device is off, so it's using no power most of the time.
        I've tried reading on my iPhone. It just doesn't work. Good for short term, terr

        • by goatpunch (668594)

          Is it only me who just hates the way that e-ink displays flash black every time the whole image changes? Quickly paging through a document would be a slow, painful experience of flashing black and white text. Come back and let me know when the Kindle 5 display updates instantaneously without an ugly black flash and I'll consider it.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Brandee07 (964634)

            I honestly got used to the black flash really quickly. That said, it would be nicer to turn pages faster. The K2 reportedly turns faster than my Kindle 1, so they are making progress.

            I do want to point out that if you hit Page Forward 5 times really fast, it flashes once and you're now 5 pages ahead.

            • by goatpunch (668594)

              So it's slow enough that it only flashes once- great :)

              I meant that if you're looking for a page in a paper or manual, say you know it's the page with a particular table on, and is around page 100 to 110. I do this sort of stuff all the time with a PDF reader, just hit page down until I see the table that I recognise to fly past. Waiting for the display to flash and update for every page would be just painful.

              I honestly loved the idea of e-ink until I tried out Sony's new reader over Christmas. I just knew

      • by Fizzol (598030)
        Having owned both an Ipaq and a Kindle, the difference between the two devices is simple enormous. The Kindle is FAR superior to the Ipaq as a book reader. Also the Kindle can access the Internet via whispernet and plays mp3s just fine, but it's still mostly a damn fine book reader.
      • by ErikZ (55491) *

        Yeah, because that's what I really want my books to do. Play music at me and let me browse the internet.

        Hey, why stop there? What about email, stock quotes, instant messaging, and all sorts of stuff that interferes with reading books?

        It's a book reader for pete's sake. It does not make julienned fries.

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          Is there any reason the device shouldn't have all that functionality? You get it basically for free once you've done the work of making a wirelessly-connected eBook reader; all of those things that you mentioned require extremely small amounts of bandwidth. If you just put a really good IM and voice communication (even walkie-talkie style, with substantial delays to allow the use of idle network bandwidth) package on it, you'd probably sell twice as many units. As long as I can easily set the device not to

        • Yeah, because that's what I really want my books to do. Play music at me and let me browse the internet.

          Hey, why stop there? What about email, stock quotes, instant messaging, and all sorts of stuff that interferes with reading books?

          It's a book reader for pete's sake. It does not make julienned fries.

          It's a book reader that costs $360. At that price I too am wondering what all else it does to justify me paying so much for it. I still haven't found a good reason for this thing to be so ridiculously price

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Fizzol (598030)
          As I said it's mostly a damn fine book reader. You don't HAVE to sue the other features, though apparently their existence turns some people into pointless snarkers.
    • by Nyeerrmm (940927) on Monday March 02, 2009 @04:07AM (#27037753)

      From experience with the Kindle 1, which I've had for ~ 6 months, its a very durable device with the exception of direct pressure on the screen. I've accidentally spritzed it with water and soap, so as long as you're not giving it a bath it does fine. I stick it in my backpack on the way to school and takes a fair amount of abuse that way.

      However, the one sticky point is that the screen is very susceptible to direct pressure on the screen. Because the e-ink relies on a glass backing for its operation, if you lean too heavily on it, it will shatter and the screen will be non-functional. This happened to mine when I had it on my bed and it disappeared under some blankets and I put my palm down on it crawling back into bed. Fortunately, I had a very good experience with Amazon customer service and received a new one within a few days. Keeping it in its leather carrying case and being aware of it eliminates those problems for the most part, and it can take quite a bit of abuse with just minimal precautions.

      With how thin the new version is, and the fact that the case doesn't come standard, I wonder if the screen isn't more durable on Kindle 2. Can't say I'd want to test it myself though...

    • by yoshi_mon (172895)

      He finds it great, and he points out correctly that for avid readers it's wonderful just from the standpoint of space conservation.

      Part of me, the part that has been using my PDA in this capacity for many years now, wonders why this was never used as a selling point for them. Given that early PDA sales were poor at best.

      But the other more cynical part of me knows that it would have only forced the DRM/fair use/format debate sooner. Not that we seem to be much better equipped to deal with it these days.

    • Kindle books use the same Mobipocket format that publishers were already preparing their books in.
    • by DrXym (126579)
      the only bad thing about it is from the publisher's standpoint, since IIRC it requires you to prepare your books in a new format (which is a not-insignificant undertaking) and Amazon has near-complete control over the pricing structure. (The pricing structure thing hurts authors, too.)

      I would have thought that from a publisher's standpoint that the Kindle being proprietary and tied to a store is a VERY bad thing. It might not seem so in the short term, but in the long term if the device took off it would

  • FTA (Score:3, Insightful)

    by drDugan (219551) on Monday March 02, 2009 @03:08AM (#27037483) Homepage

    '' Once your promotion expires, seven day home delivery of the New York Times costs $58.06 per month or $697 annually. A Kindle 2 sells for $359. The New York Times via Kindle costs just $13.99 per month or $168. You can buy a Kindle 2 with a one year subscription to The Times for only $527. Then, you can use the $169 savings to take your friend out to a very nice dinner - the one whose sister has the dogs who get their waste dumped in your blue plastic Times delivery bags (I guess I'll find out soon if she reads my blog when she asks about that dinner).

    BusinessInsider mused that it costs The Times twice as much money each year to provide home delivery than it would to buy every subscriber a Kindle: "What we're trying to say is that as a technology for delivering the news, newsprint isn't just expensive and inefficient; it's laughably so." ''

    Wow. That puts the kindle price into perspective!

    Also, who spents 700 a year on newspapers any more? News, even good news, is no-cost online, right?

    • by smart.id (264791)

      Wow. That puts the kindle price into perspective!

      Also, who spents 700 a year on newspapers any more? News, even good news, is no-cost online, right?

      Some people like thumbing through the paper physically, reading it front to back, that whole process. However, I think in time people are just going to get used to reading it on their computers.

      I think that e-ink might be easier on the eyes or something. It might be nice for reading. End post.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by TheLink (130905)
      Newsprint can't be that expensive.

      Over here in this 3rd world developing country, a newspaper's list price is about USD0.30. And most of them have as many pages as the NYT (if not more).

      They're not as thick as the UK's Sunday Times - which has been rumoured to be lethal to small dogs, when launched by a speeding paper-boy.

      Online cost of NYT 527-359= 168= USD 0.46/day
      "Paper" cost of NYT = 697-168= USD 1.45/day

      Why is it so expensive? 1.45 a day.

      Delivery might be expensive if say the subscriber is in Hawaii or
      • by Zerth (26112)

        NYTs delivered where I live are printed by the regional newspaper. NYT bought them a press just for that purpose, although they use it on the side for other things.

      • by xaxa (988988)

        Let's see... newsprint costs €500/tonne, and masses 45 g/m^2. Each sheet is maybe A2 in size, and the typical "free" newspaper here has about 10 sheets (40 pages). A sheet of A2 paper has an area of 0.25m^2, so it's mass is 11.25g. The whole thing has a mass of 112.5g (mass of an apple? seems about right).

        So the paper in a small newspaper costs about €0.06.

        Someone else can work out the printing and distribution costs ;-)

    • Except when you leave the Kindle on a train.

      Replacing a newspaper is somewhat cheaper.

    • Also, who spents 700 a year on newspapers any more?

      People who know how to spell "spends"?

  • Hey, honey? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 02, 2009 @03:51AM (#27037673)

    Will you hand me the sports section to read while you browse the NYT magazine?

    Hey, where's the crossword?

    • by sam0737 (648914)

      Will you hand me the sports section to read while you browse the NYT magazine?

      The first question can be solved by buying one more kindle for yourself.

      Hey, where's the crossword?

      If someday it comes with annotation functionality...

    • by T5 (308759)

      Hey, where are the coupons? Especially in this economy, that matters to a lot of people. Yeah, there are some you can download and print, but that doesn't always work well. I had to disable certain portions of my home firewall to get some of those sites to work.

  • Propietary Format (Score:4, Interesting)

    by cervo (626632) on Monday March 02, 2009 @09:35AM (#27039175) Journal
    What if amazon goes under? All those ebooks that I may have bought will be gone. If you look at some of the music DRM services, what happens when Amazon decides not to support the format anymore?

    I want an e reader because my books are piling up. But I want the same rights I get for paper books and until I get that I will not buy one. I have some books that are older than me. Now I see people with this e-reader or that e-reader and then a year or two later they have a new one and re-buy all their books.

    I want all the benefits of paper books but without wasting all the space on books. Also as a society, what happens if in years people dig up our society and just find these e-readers with a proprietary format? All of our knowledge will be lost whereas with books/tablets at least they can get something to try to translate.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by NineNine (235196)

      I want all the benefits of paper books but without wasting all the space on books.

      Let me help... libraries... buy/sell used books... a bookcase... or, a $400 gizmo that will be useless one way or another inside of a year.

      • by ErikZ (55491) *

        It will become useless how?

        Last I heard, there are a half a million completely content Kindle 1 owners. And that came out two years ago.

    • by ErikZ (55491) *

      What if amazon goes under? All those ebooks that I may have bought will be gone. If you look at some of the music DRM services, what happens when Amazon decides not to support the format anymore?

      Yeah! I mean, what would happen if Microsoft stopped supporting .doc? Or Adobe stopped supporting the .psd format? Or Autocad stopped supporting the .DXF file format?

      You do have the same rights as a paper book. For instance, moving the book over to another format. When was the last time you had a paper book reprinte

    • by metamatic (202216)

      Buy DRM-free ebooks from fictionwise.com in mobi format, and they work just fine on the Kindle.

      The mobi format is just HTML in a Palm PDB wrapper, and there are open source tools to manipulate it.

    • by vanyel (28049) *

      The kindle format is not amazon proprietary, it's mobipocket, which is one of the most commonly available formats. Though I always make sure that a book is available is an open format before I buy it (and I download the book in that format as well, "just in case"), either html or pdf (which, while proprietary, is open enough that there are non-proprietary readers). There is more interesting content available in open formats than I have time to read, so it's just not an issue. Also, at least at fictionwis

  • by ClemensW (835172) on Monday March 02, 2009 @10:33AM (#27039701)

    I was looking into buying a Kindle as soon as it becomes available here (Rightpondia), but after reading the license agreement on Amazon, I'm not sure anymore.

    Do I understand it correctly, that..
    - in case the Kindle should be lost/broken or I buy a newer model, then all books are lost, too?
    - in case I switch to a different brand of ebook reader, I'm stuck with a load of unreadable books?
    - I cannot loan a book to a friend, except by giving him the whole device?
    - I cannot try to remove the DRM, otherwise Amazon will kill my service?
    - Amazon is snooping what documents I have on my reader?

    If that's correct, then - sorry to say that - it looks like Amazon is telling me: "HA! WE SCREWED YOU!"

    • by ErikZ (55491) *

      - in case the Kindle should be lost/broken or I buy a newer model, then all books are lost, too?

      Hey look, a FAQ:

      Q: What happens if your Kindle is lost or stolen or if it breaks? Can you report it and have the email address canceled and have it disconnected from the whispernet and your Amazon account? If you buy a replacement Kindle, can you have all your documents, clippings and customizations restored through any sort of back-up of your data?

      A: Yes to all of your questions. You simply go the "Mange Your Ki

    • by Brandee07 (964634) on Monday March 02, 2009 @11:30AM (#27040367)

      -in case the Kindle should be lost/broken or I buy a newer model, then all books are lost, too?

      No, book purchases are tied to your Amazon.com account, not to the device. You can redownload any of them on a new device. This includes books that get pulled from the Amazon.com store after the date of purchase! (I have a Kindle, I tested this)

      - in case I switch to a different brand of ebook reader, I'm stuck with a load of unreadable books?

      Yes. Hopefully Amazon will switch to the ePub format for more openness soon.

      - I cannot loan a book to a friend, except by giving him the whole device?

      Yep, although you can share with family who have a second or third device on the same account.

      - I cannot try to remove the DRM, otherwise Amazon will kill my service?

      That's pretty standard, isn't it? However, I haven't seen any cases of service getting cut off, or anyone even trying to break the DRM.

      - Amazon is snooping what documents I have on my reader?

      Only the documents you bought from them. They back up your annotations and bookmarks for the books you purchased from them, but not from any books you got from other sources or created yourself. You can also turn this feature off, if the idea of Amazon poking its nose in your stuff bothers you. Or you can never turn the wireless on and do all book purchases by USB, just to be completely paranoid.

      ----

      The end of the story is that proprietary formats and DRM suck, but that's the way it is and is going to be until Amazon can break away from it the way Apple did.

      For the record: Amazon's .azw format is really just .mobi with the DRM. So if you can break the DRM, you can read the book on any device that can read .mobi, from Palm Pilots to computers. The tricky thing is that some of the books they sell are in .tpz (Topaz, sometimes .azw1) which allows them to imbed fonts in the file. I presume that this is an evolution of .mobi, but we really don't know, and other readers might not be able to handle it.

  • by mr_da3m0n (887821) on Monday March 02, 2009 @02:39PM (#27042741) Homepage

    This reviews reads a bit like "Misdeeds of the tobacco", by Anton Tchekov.

    We are promised a review of how well the Kindle is suited to read the new york times on a daily basis, but the author spends a few paragraphs right off the bat informing us that he shoved his kindle in a bag with other junk (candy bars?) and scratched the screen, and then is surprised Amazon will not outright send him a new one to compensate. He even repeats it in the "the screen" section.

    I don't know, but I spent a while thinking "yeah that's good to know and all, but where's the New York Times in there? Why is he trying so hard to justify how he scratched the screen?

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