Transcending the Kindle


Are eReaders the savior of newspapers?

In the latest issue of “Wired” Steven Levy argues for the usefulness and more serious role of the Kindle compared to the iPad:

“But longer, deeper plunges into literature—what the critic Victor Nell calls “ludic reading”—are a different matter. After 20 minutes or so, the 1.6-pound iPad starts to feel pretty heavy. (The new Kindle is 8.7 ounces; Gravity’s Rainbow, about 2 pounds.) The backlit screen tires your eyes and is lousy in sunlight. As for smartphones, have you ever tried to hold one in a reading position for two hours? And then there are the distractions: It’s tougher to concentrate when email, box scores, and addictive games are a click away. Why struggle through a difficult passage of prose when you can play with … angry birds?”

Granted you can use the Kindle in strong sunlight, where the iPad is hard to read, but I think I would be more convinced if his final words didn’t quote Amazon bos Steve Bezos, apparently channeling the latest Kindle vs iPad TV ad:

“You’re going to want to go on vacation and read by the pool,” Bezos says. “And guess what—many people pay more than $139 for their sunglasses. So these are not expensive devices.”

I love my iPad and find that the phyical books I have bought since I got it (because they don’t exist in digital format) are just sitting on the shelf.

Even Steven Levy agrees the iPad is superior for reading magazines and newspapers. So it is particularly frustrating that you can’t actually subscribe to them on the iPad. I’ve let my subscription to “Wired” itself lapse, since I can update the app every month. But I would much rather just pay for a subscription and let each issue download automatically rather than having to go through the trouble of paying for a download once a month.

Because Apple hasn’t bothered to launch the iBook store in Sweden, all of the books I’ve bought for my iPad are from Amazon’s Kindle store, and read on the Kindle app. Even when the iBooks store comes to Sweden I’ll probably stick with Amazon, because I might get a Kindle someday, and then I can read all my books there.

Amazon does offer a bunch of periodicals available by subscription (like the “San Francisco Chronicle”) but as they recently confirmed in an e-mail, these are only for the Kindle, and not the Kindle app in other devices:

“Unfortunately, periodicals such as newspapers, magazines, blogs, and personal documents can currently only be delivered to a Kindle and cannot be viewed on the Kindle application…I’ll let the Kindle team know that you’re interested in the ability to receive subscriptions on your Kindle application. They’re always looking for ways to improve our Kindle offerings and may be able to make this feature available in the future.”

One hopes they (and Apple) come to their senses soon and start offering subscriptions to periodicals on the iPad. Maybe National Newspaper Week could be an inspiration.

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