The biggest crime is that the much-ballyhooed wireless store for iPhone and iPod Touch isn’t in the business of selling audio books. Unlike the Kindle, I have to be on my computer to purchase a book, which means I can’t pick up something new if I finish whatever I’m “reading”. I can sample the iTunes audio books as well, but all I get is a minute-thirty–long clip that seems to have been chosen at random. But, thank God for that sample. Out of curiosity, I listened to a taste of the new Madonna book written by her brother. This was one of those cases in which the author and narrator are one in the same. If you consider Madonna talented, then you’d have to concede that talent isn’t genetic.
Though it should be noted that prices at both stores are comparable or even cheaper than buying a physical book, both shopping experiences pale in comparison to going to an actual, factual real-life bookstore. I’m one of those people who doesn’t necessarily know what he wants to read when looking for a new book. I like to walk into Barnes & Noble and check out the wall of new releases or poke around the special subject-specific displays. That’s always the issue I’ve had with the regular Amazon.com site, which both the Kindle and iTunes store also suffer from. Clicking through a list of titles is a sad replacement for the visual stimuli of a bookstore. The fact that the Kindle only does grayscale images just compounds the problem.
Reading on the Kindle is actually very pleasurable. Though the awkward placement of some of its buttons had me accidentally flipping pages at times, I found the experience to be the same as reading a regular book—except better. If I get bored of my book, I can test drive another one, or catch up on my news instead. If an author insists on using a word I don’t understand, I can find it in the built-in dictionary. If a reference is made to a person or place I’m unfamiliar with, I can look it up on Wikipedia. Unlike the crappy display of my LG Voyager phone, the Kindle’s display is perfectly readable in sunlight. Best of all, I can bump up the size of the text, which means never having to wear my sunglasses over my reading glasses when reading outdoors.
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.