Mark Medley got his grubby paws on a Kindle and gives an even-handed review of the wee beast.
The keyboard is tiny, like it hasn’t finished growing, which makes searching for books in the Kindle store a pain – tapping out titles is like Morse Code. Amazon promises over 360,000 books, but there are glaring omissions, especially when it comes to Canadian novels: none of the Giller Prize finalists are available, nor Atwood’s new novel or Munro’s latest collection. There are add-ons, like a built-in dictionary, but navigating the menus with the tiny joystick is frustrating and slow. And the most useful tool, web-browsing, is disabled in Canada, so you’re limited to Wikipedia.
While the interface leaves much to be desired, the reading experience is actually quite pleasurable. The e-ink screen eliminates glare common to computer screens, though it means photos and text are restricted to 16 shades of gray, which sounds like an Ingmar Bergman film.
I found I read differently on a Kindle; I raced through the “pages” faster than normal, pushing the next page buttons as if playing a GameBoy. My best experiences came reading the newspaper in the morning; without the cumbersome broadsheet I could now hold a coffee in one hand and the entire paper in another. My fellow subway riders no doubt appreciated this, though they looked at me oddly, eyebrows raised, like I was reading a Weekly World News.