Right now, you can’t watch TV or walk into a store without seeing those three dreaded words, “BACK TO SCHOOL.” Their presence can mean but one thing: The summer death knell tolls thunderously.
But, wait—there’s time! We still have a precious few weeks to get out and travel, hit the beach or soak up The Great Outdoors. And, if you’re going to do any of these things, chances are you’ll be reading a book somewhere along the way. So, I’ve taken it upon myself to test out two technically advanced methods of getting my lit on. It’s a head-to-head throwdown between Amazon’s nifty new Kindle device and an iTunes audio book. Can they replace the good old-fashioned dog-eared paperback? Well, I did find things I liked about both experiences during my experiment, but this just wouldn’t be The Grouse without unleashing a little vitriol. Now, let’s have at it.
You’d keel over with boredom if I walked you through the entire process of using the Kindle, but a little background is in order. The Kindle comes paired with free EVDO cell service provided by Sprint, which means I don’t have to be in a Wi-Fi hotspot to use it. Anywhere that I can use a Sprint cellphone, I can buy a book (of course, Sprint itself is a subject that could fill a few dozen Grouse columns, so I won’t go there now).
The wireless Kindle store allows me to browse books, newspapers, magazines and blogs. Books can be browsed by title, by top sellers, by what’s “New & Noteworthy” and by what’s been recommended to me by Amazon. They can also be searched for by title.
The Kindle can display grayscale images, so the covers are all there. And, just like on Amazon’s site, I can read and write reviews. I can download a free sample of a book before buying it and if I subscribe to a newspaper, magazine or blog, new content is automatically sent to me when it becomes available. For Amazon, the Kindle jumps that one hurdle the company has always stumbled on: making customers wait days for delivery.
But, there’s a lot the store can’t do. First of all, my Wish List is suspiciously absent, even though I know there’s a Kindle version of at least one of the books on there. Why not tell me that so I can download something I haven’t gotten around to buying? Then there’s the fact that I have to pay a subscription fee for blogs. Seriously, I have to pay $1.99 per month to get Gawker headlines? A simple RSS reader should have been easy enough to build into this thing. But, I suppose “free” EVDO service doesn’t pay for itself.
But, the iTunes book shopping experience is worse.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.