Monday, November 21, 2011

Fight the future.

So, when the Kindle eBook readers hit the market, I resisted. I already had a magic device that allowed me to read books: It was called "books". I mean, sure, the Kindles did some neat-o tricks but, and I am speaking here as a hardcore reader who goes through books at a pretty serious clip, they just really didn't snag me.

Similarly the iPad and its various Android-based tablet competitors got mostly a great big "meh" from me. Especially once I got a smart phone. I mean, I've already got a perfectly functional netbook and a smartphone, so explain to me again why I needed to shell out five bills for an Apple or Samsung gizmo that basically did the same stuff?

Then Amazon released the Kindle Fire: a little quasi-tablet that was linked into the Amazon storefront à la the classic Kindle, only you could stream movies to it and run Android apps like a tablet. Sure, it didn't have 3G and GPS and cameras and suchlike, but, uh, my phone already has all that stuff. And the Kindle Fire was only $199, which covers for a multitude of sins.

Bobbi preordered one, and it showed up last week. I was impressed. Impressed enough that, when I noticed that Target had two left (out of a shelf display meant to hold ten or a dozen) I bought one myself last Friday. This thing definitely hits right in the price/utility sweet spot. And the Amazon storefront is seamlessly integrated, causing me to yell from bed the other night "I just bought an out-of-print book! From bed! It's like having McKay's in bed with you! Do you have any idea how dangerous this thing is?"

Anyhow, yeah, I've been assimilated. The Kindle Fire has achieved 100% market penetration at Roseholme Cottage, being owned by two out of two adult residents. It's not going to replace dead-tree books in my life, but it's certainly a handy and versatile supplement. (And if you're an Amazon Prime member, you can stream old X-Files episodes for free! I just watched "Musings of a Cigarette-Smoking Man" for the first time in years.)

EDITED TO ADD: It seems Alan posted up a review on Saturday, which makes the some of the same points from the other direction. If you already have a tablet 'puter and a Kindle, why buy a Fire? I can't think of a reason, although as he points out, its size does make it pretty portable.


Anonymous said...

> I already had a magic device
> that allowed me to read books:
> It was called "books".

Obligatory links to some videos from the early part of the 21st century:

Bio Optical Organized Knowledge (the BOOK): (1 min. 15 sec.)

Medieval Help Desk: (2 min. 46 sec.)

FatWhiteMan said...

Books are nice but they are a bit of a bother to carry around when you consider the comparable weight of an ebook (which is measurable BTW).

Ruth said...

I've had an Ipad for a year now (christmas gift last year from hubby) and before that I used an PDA as an ebook reader. LOVE being able to carry a large selection of books with me without having to carry an extra suitcase, LOVE the extra functionality of getting online. Speaking of which, don't recall if the Fire has Blutooth, but if it DOES, you can likely pair it up with the smartphone to get online if you end up short of books and out of an internet connection (it'll EAT batteries though).

Nathan said...

I like my Fire. Glad you and Bobbi do, too.

At least it's something you don't have to load magazines for. (Just "on".) :)

Bubblehead Les. said...

Welcome to the Future. You may pick up your Barcode at the Dept. of Civilian Control at 666 North Hell Street...

Actually, let us know if you can get non-Amazon Books transferred to your Fire. Every time I try to get a Larry Correia Book from Baen Books, they block the Transfer, even though they have my Permission. Spent an hour with a Live human at the Kindle Store to try and "unlock the Gate", and the best we could do was to throw the new book into Documents on my Mac, then transfer them via the Wire to the Kindle. And they STILL don't seem to exist when I use my other Kindle Apps. Have fun.

Tam said...

Bubblehead Les,

The Baen authors I like, I tend to purchase the books from in dead tree format, anyway. I'll continue buying Correia's books and Drake's books as soon as they're released. (Heck, I have the last four or so Lt. Leary books in hardback...)

og said...

The best use of my Kindle is reading free old out of print stuff; they have back issues of "punch" for free, that ancient magazine that brought Snark to an art form.

alcade said...


Let's say you're in the crapper at work, hiding from the boss when suddenly! you finish your book. Do you pick up that tattered copy of The Audacity of Hope everyone's been using as toilet paper and see if, just maybe, Barry's wisdom will resonate with you?

Or do you do like the fellow in the next stall who wisely purchased the e-reader and is now undergoing the seamless transition from War and Peace to The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. He's been sitting there so long he can no longer feel his legs, but he can feel your indecision.

Dead tree books are nice, but e-readers are the future, and resistance is futile.

Stephen said...

It took me a week to admit I had my first Kindle...felt shame. Got over it quick. Good for you.

Doug Watson said...

Whatever you do, do NOT go to At least, don't go there unless you have many hours to kill browsing their collection of open source e-books.

And, like you, there are some authors that I buy the dead tree version of their books, but I find myself more and more buying both, the paper version for archival and collection purposes, and the e-book for portability.

Phillip said...

I bought my wife a B&N Nook for her birthday, and she's read more since July than she's read in years. (And this is WHILE she's finishing her last semester of her degree program)

So when I found a Nook on sale for $140 refurbished, I bought it. Then I promptly rooted it and installed the Cyanogen mod on it so it's a functional Android tablet. I have the Barnes and Noble Nook app, I have the Amazon Kindle app, and I can watch Netflix and Youtube videos, play Angry Birds, or whatever I want to do with it. And it'll let me put a Baen title right on it without a problem.

I've discovered authors that I wouldn't have paid attention to in the stores, and I'm re-reading books that I've let collect dust on the shelves. With a 16GB micro SD card, I can store more books on that little piece of equipment than my house would hold, plus the books end up usually cheaper than the paper copy.

It feels kind of Star Trek to be reading off a little tablet like that... and that's not a bad thing. I love living in the future.

Jim D. said...

Super choice! Congratulations!

Regarding books from other sources (Larry Correia FTW!):
If you haven't already tried Calibre e-book software then you're missing out. It's fantastic, and has drivers and setting specifically for your Fire (and most every other reader!)

With it you can upload your Baen subscription books, Project Gutenberg texts AND translate between Kindle/e-pub/Nook. Everything just works. Try it!

Note: Not an ad - just a satisfied user. Plus the name is fun for gunnies :^)

Sport Pilot said...

If I didn’t have a fairly new Kindle 3G I’d seriously consider the Kindle Fire. The slight size increase gives you a larger screen which is nice, plus you get more features as well. That said if you already have a tablet PC Tam has stated the obvious. Still, I may consider giving my Kindle to a family member and going with the new Fire later on. I do have an I-Pad II but am using it for course work reading and such.

Jake (formerly Riposte3) said...

"I find myself more and more buying both, the paper version for archival and collection purposes, and the e-book for portability."

This is generally what I do, too. Additionally, since the e-book is usually cheaper than the dead-tree version, I'll buy the e-book if I'm unsure about a title - that way if it ends up being not as good as I hoped I'm out a little less money.

I've also downloaded copies of books I already own but are old enough and have been read so often that I now hesitate to read them again because I'm afraid they'll come apart on me.

"So when I found a Nook on sale for $140 refurbished, I bought it. Then I promptly rooted it and installed the Cyanogen mod on it so it's a functional Android tablet."

I've done the same thing, except without rooting - the Nook Color will boot off of the SD card, so all you have to do is flash Android to an SD card (it's very easy, actually), put it in the Nook, turn it on, and voila! Instant Android tablet, and you can keep the stock Nook OS available if you want/need it - and it doesn't void the warranty the way rooting does.

Phillip said...

Jake, since I bought it as a refurb, it had either a 30 or 90 day warranty. I had originally intended to do what you're doing, but I missed a step along the way and after that it was go full mod or have a useless piece of junk. Oops.

Tam, I'll second Jim D's recommendation of Calibre, it's some awesome software. One of its best features is the ability to convert from one format to another in case you get a free book in the wrong format.

Ed Rasimus said...

Once you have an ereader in your hands you will never live without one. (That's my definition of a product you don't need until you try then it is essential--see also microwave oven and cell-phone).

I bought a first-gen Kindle and suddenly found myself reading three and four books at a time. Going anywhere with several books was simple.

Then the phone got a Kindle app and even without the Kindle I had books at my fingertips. Now I've got Kindle app on my phone and my iPad as well as my wife's devices. All of our purchases are available to all devices.

Fire simply adds color display and media streaming so it becomes a small partially enabled iPad.

Downside is limited. Main drag is that they can quickly become a time-sink and a money pit.

Overall, I now like the iPad better because of broader capability. But they are all great.

Bubblehead Les. said...

FYI: Ninth Lt. Leary due out this coming spring.

Stretch said...

Hello, my name is Stretch and I'm a bookaholic.
You guys aren't helping.
Just visited
An I.V. drip installed in the bathroom ...
Damn you all!!

freddyboomboom said...

I was excited about the Fire, then I found out about the Nook Tablet that came out last week.

About the same size as the Fire, with same spec screen, twice the RAM, twice the flash storage (with some constraints that some folks dislike), and a microSD slot for more storage. But $50 more than the Fire.

Plus you can run the Kindle for Android app, if Amazon has an ebook that B&N doesn't have.

Oh yeah, you can run the Nook for Android app on the Fire, if there's an ebook that B&N has that Amazon doesn't have.

I have the Nook Tablet on my Christmas list...

And I'm converting all my Palm ebook format ebooks to other formats using Calibre.

Homer said...

Welcome aboard, Tam.

Having made my living with constantly evolving state-of-the-art technology for over 30 years, and traversing the range between "old and reliable" and "bleeding edge" for clients as their needs dictated, I saw the Kindle as nice, but superfluous. Paper books worked just fine, thank you very much, were relatively inexpensive, highly portable, available in universal languages, completely randomly searchable, and functioned anyplace there was a minimum supply of photons. What's not to like about that?

Well. The local library added Overdrive, and loading overdrive on the PC and laptop was free, as were the books I could read in that application. (And, that's from someone who just scored a high-quality copy of Warren Page's tome).

Then libraries discovered the Kindle format. End of story.

My Kindle Fire arrived about the same time Bobbi's did, pre-loaded with everything I had already downloaded in Kindle format to my laptop. It found my wireless network faster than I could, and I live here. I now have three brand new books sitting on it waiting for me to work my way through them. I foresee serious damage to my Amazon credit card coming with this thing.

Is the Kindle "Absolutely Everything" ? Nope. But, it's reasonably close for book nerds and readaholics.

All I can say is, if Jeff Bezos decides to start making cars, sell all your Ford, GM and Chrysler stock real quick, and I wouldn't suggest buying much of Toyota....

Anonymous said...

Be carefull, be very carfull - the month after I got my kindle a few years ago my wife sat me down for a little "intervention" you see, you just press the little buttons and it sends you another book - but it charges your bank account too. I think I spent around $100 on books that first month, I still struggle with this...

Drang said...

FWIW, Bill Quick says that he can "side-load" any non-Amazon books, as well as many free Android apps, from his computer to his Fire. (Review of Kindle Fire)

I'm a little uncomfortable with the degree to which Amazon has fully integrated your account into the Fire, as it arrives, what with username and PASSWORD pre-installed, but that's your business.
I figure for a few dollars more I'd just as soon get the Vizio Via tablet @Costco, partly because the wife has one, so we'd have some commonality. I kinda like the GPS-maps on an 8 inch screen are easier to read than on a 4 incher--and, who knows, maybe I'll use the TV remote function...

Tam said...


"I'm a little uncomfortable with the degree to which Amazon has fully integrated your account into the Fire, as it arrives, what with username and PASSWORD pre-installed, but that's your business."

If that's a concern, you can always buy one from a brick-and-mortar retailer.

Still, Bobbi was tickled to turn it on and have it say "Hi!" to her by name. That's a clever gimmick.

Anonymous said...

"The Post-Modern Prometheus" and "Jose Chung's From Outer Space" EEEK!

Tam said...

Anon 3:15,

Already watched "Jose Chung's..." too. Need to watch "Post-Modern Prometheus"!

(My other favorite episodes, "The Unnatural", "Triangle" and "The Ghosts Who Stole Christmas" are all in Season Six, so I just bought the whole season on DVD some years back...)

Tam said...

(Ooh! I can't forget to watch "Bad Blood" and "Unusual Suspects"!...)

Ruth said...

I'll 2nd (3rd?) the Calibre recommendation, been using it for a while, love it.

I also have to admit that if the Fire had been around last year I might have gotten one of those instead of the Ipad.

LabRat said...

"Home" isn't in that list? No "Humbug", "Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose", "War of the Coprophages", or "Small Potatoes"?

-=The Malchert Family=- said...

Isn't having your books on Kindle the same as having your TEOTWAKI plans on your home computer?

I know you aren't discarding your library of paper books, yet. I imagine the social value of "real" books will skyrocket when we revert to pre-industrial "civilization". Not looking forward to it, BTW, just expecting it.

Tam said...

The Malchert Family,

"I know you aren't discarding your library of paper books, yet."

Yes, seriously: When you buy a Kindle, a team of Amazon ninjas comes to your house, removes all your dead-tree books to a pile in your front yard, makes a bonfire of them, and then makes you swear a horrible blood oath of undying loyalty to eBooks on the soul of Jeff Bezos so that your eyes bleed if you ever try to read words on paper again.

Or maybe I'm kidding. ;)

Rob said...

I got a regular Kindle back in February. I've used the thing so often that reading a regular book fields weird to me now.

Personally, I can't wait 'till they figure out how to get a color e-ink display to work like a regular LCD screen. High contrast/low glare + fast refresh times = awesome sauce.

Kristopher said...

Bubblehead Les:

It's easier to go in the other direction.

Baen's zip format books can be dragged and dropped into iTunes directly, and you can get a free Kindle app for an iPad to snag your Amazon electronic buys.

Bob@thenest said...

Tam, I'm 66 and the last on the planet to finally get a cheap prepaid cell phone a few years (very few) back. Now, my purpose for concealed carry is solely to protect my Android phone -- from my cold dead hands...and all that.

Went with the Nook only after calling such owners fools who could only peck and not turn a real page.

Welcome. It's nice to have company. :-)

Spud said...

I read three to four books every week, and have been doing so for like 40 yrs. Can't really see a reason to change from analog now, has worked pretty darn well all this time. Besides that $200 bucks will buy more AMMO !

Gnarly Sheen said...

I've really been on the fence about getting a Fire, but your post might seal the deal for me. I don't have a tablet currently, and my phone does most of the things I want. I just don't want my eyes to bleed by reading books on the small phone screen.

Tam said...


"I read three to four books every week, and have been doing so for like 40 yrs."

You need to read more.

Anonymous said...

Kindle, Shimdle. Its books with paper pages for me bay bee.

I still have my rotary dial cell phone. And you can take it from my...etc, etc.

Yeah, I know I'll get run over by the Brown Truck of Happiness while the driver is three blocks from the house and accelerating outbound. But I'll be chasing new stuff. Actual real stuff, with some weight, a cover, and pages, and words monks would recognize, and maps, and drawings, and pictures where appropriate.

And another thing: All the helpful suggestions in comments about rooting, and downloading thises and thatses to be able to read proprietary formats, is Not Helpful to a guy who couldn't tell a Blue Tooth from a gold tooth.

But Tam's post has me worried. If The Taminator can go all e- Bookish, what hope have mere mortals?

Spud said...

Damn...and I thought I read too much, I'll have to work on that lol

atlharp said...

I have been using a tablet since the summer (Heritable C8) and I have been loving it. Flashing new ROM's, reading ebooks, light gaming. I dig it. Enjoy that thang! ;-)

Robert said...

Kindle. Made in china. #Autofail.

Tam said...

"Kindle. Made in china. #Autofail."

I'll give you $50 if you'll let me come over to your house and smash everything on your property made in China with an Axe.

I'll make it $100 if your car's parked on the premises and not in the street.