July 29th, 2010 by Mike Fulton

Is My Kindle Obsolete Already?

As happy as I was with my Kindle for the first 3-1/2 months,  I’m not really using it any more.  Well, sort of.  I’m still using the Kindle software to read books in the Kindle format, but I’m no longer doing it on the Kindle hardware.

As most tech-savvy people have heard by now, at the end of January, Apple introduced the new iPad hand-held tablet computer.  Resembling nothing else so much as an oversized iPod Touch, one of the first apps customized for the new device was a updated version of the Kindle Reader application.  This application allows you to read your Kindle files on your iPhone or iPod Touch, and now on the new iPad.

The iPad Cometh

When Apple announced the iPad, they made a big deal about the new iBooks application, which they claimed would do the same for electronic books and reading as what the iPod and iTunes did for digital music downloads and music.  They did give a brief nod to Kindle, but otherwise acted like they’d invented the whole eBooks idea.

Nobody who heard the announcement really doubted Apple’s ability to make deals with publishers and offer the user a great experience, but the big question was, how would the iPad’s 9.7″ color screen compare with the E-Ink LCD screens used by the Nook and Kindle?   Apple’s new color screen would have lower-resolution, inch by inch, than the other machines, but the overall screen resolution would be greater.  How would text look on the new screen?  How long would readers be able to go before eye fatigue set in?

I can answer some of that… I’ve just completed reading another book on the iPad.  This would be something like #20 since since I got it.  All I can really tell you is that throughout reading any of those books, at no time did I ever have to stop reading or even slow down, because of eyestrain.  I never once have experienced any particular discomfort at all while looking at the iPad’s screen.

Of course, your mileage may vary.  If you set the text size too small, you’re asking for trouble and you’ll probably get it.  But as long as you set the text size to something comfortable, I don’t think it’s going to be a problem for most people.

Shopping Around

I use both the Kindle application and iBooks on a regular basis.  The usage probably breaks down to something like 65% Kindle and 35% iBooks, but that’s just a rough guess. 

While I have them both installed, I hardly ever look at the Barnes & Noble or Borders reader apps.  Why?  Well, as a general rule I’ve found that most eBooks are either available on Kindle or not at all.  Some are found only on iBooks.  These are mostly eBook versions of new hardcover releases from publishers with whom Amazon has gotten involved in some pissing match so they don’t publish on Kindle these days.

Aside from that, I also use the iBooks reader to read books in the ePub format that I’ve downloaded elsewhere.  I’ve discovered that there are some publishers out there who are selling their eBook titles directly to users instead of going through Amazon, iBooks, or the other major vendors.  Some like Baen Books have certain titles available for free as well.

If you can’t find it on Kindle or iBooks, it almost certainly won’t be on the Barnes & Noble or Borders eBook stores either.  For the most part, the prices are about the same from store to store, so it’s easier and more convenient to just stick with the two main reader apps. 

I’m sure that there will eventually be some more differences in prices and availability between vendors, however, so I keep checking the Barnes & Noble and Borders websites for news about special deals and to see if certain books are available yet.

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