Sorry Google, I Still Love My Kindle

Google announced today that it is getting into the e-book retailing business, competing directly with the current leader in e-book sales, the Amazon Kindle.

The unique selling proposition of Google e-books i that they are stored “in the cloud,” and you can read them on any computer or device: any Web browser, the iPhone, any Android-powered smartphone, the iPad, the Barnes & Noble Nook, or the Sony E-Reader. Any device except the current leader in e-book sales, the Amazon Kindle.

The problem with this approach for me is that the only device on which I want to read a book is the Amazon Kindle. I’m not going to sit down and read my 900-page biography of George Washington on my laptop. I’m not going to read a Colin Dexter mystery on the office iPad. Like Google books, I can read my Kindle e-books on my laptop, on the iPad, on most smartphones ¬†– except my Palm Pre, but that’s a post for another day. But unlike Google e-books, I can also read them on the Kindle, and that makes all the difference.

The Kindle — along with the other e-readers — is purpose-built for reading. It’s incredibly light, easy on the eyes, easy to take and find notes on. For me the Kindle’s main advantage over Barnes & Noble and Sony is the keyboard. (That’s also one of the things I love about my Palm Pre. I guess I just need my keyboards to have keys.)

The iPad is not an e-reader. It’s too heavy, it doesn’t fit neatly into your hands (not mine anyway) and it feels like I’m reading a screen rather than a reasonable¬†approximation¬†of paper. And I’m sorry, but the much-vaunted appeal of the page-turning gesture is lost on me.

I am glad that Google is getting into the e-book retail game. The more competitors in this market, the better I think for authors, publishers, and readers. But with all Google’s talk of the “cloud” notwithstanding, books are tangible, tactile, things. And as it turns out, so are e-books. I still want to hold them in my hands.

See my late-night ode to my Kindle on the Midnight Apple Pie blog.

2 comments

  1. carrie@umass says:

    I picked up the NookColor, having delayed my eventual ereader purchase because I wasn’t happy with the original Nook page transitions. And I kind of figured a color reader would be out soon, considering the then untapped kids’ book market. I had it for about 10 days when I realized all I was doing with it was playing crossword puzzles.

    When I bought it, I loaded David Sedaris’ ‘Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk’. However I found it difficult to snuggle up with the NookColor, because of its weight and the cover I had chosen for it wasn’t great for the one handed read (not in a Bust-magazine way, but in an I-have-a-coffee-in-my-other-hand way).

    I ended up returning the NookColor as soon as it dawned on me the I wasn’t in love with it, as I expected to be, and after the first crossword puzzle I completed recycled through as the next game. (B&N promises new games in 2011, but geesh, that’s like weeks away!)

    So you like the Kindle, eh? I’ll have to check one out to see if page transitions are easier for me to tolerate than the Nook.

    I have installed Nook ereader software on my netbook and configured the page margins so that I can finish the Sedaris book there. Its actually not bad on the netbook; but I do agree that reading ebooks on a desktop is lousy.

  2. LoriPA says:

    Carrie — yes, I do, and I gotta say that main thing I love about it is how light it is, and how easy it is to that “one-handed read.” Years of trying to read Harry Potter and hugh non-fiction tomes in bed make the Kindle an amazing convenience. What I didn’t like about the original nook was the weird combination of the touch screen at the bottom with a keyboard above. The Kindle is just the most book-ly or writer-ly of the ereaders, I think.

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