Reading On the Samsung Galaxy II

13. June, 2011

A couple of days ago, I got a new toy: The Samsung Galaxy II. Along came a “readers hub” which I didn’t use. The contract says something about “additional charges might be incurred.” “Might” surely isn’t a word that I like to see close to “money.”

So I got the Amazon Kindle reader for Android. Everything else aside, Amazon is the largest book seller on the planet and the prices are better than anywhere else. Which leads to the question: Are the prices worth it?

On the plus side, reading on the Galaxy II is a nice experience. The text is clear and easy to read. Flipping pages by tapping or swishing over the screen is easy enough. The device is smaller than normal book and the weight is comparable to a 400 page paperback. Since it’s smaller than the book, it’s easier to hold “open” then the book. My fingers are long enough to wrap around the whole backside, so with a bit of strain, I can tap the right side of the screen with my middle finger without moving my hand at all. It shows much less text per page, so you need more tapping but it was very easy to get used to that.

In fact, I completely forget about it. When a piece of the story makes me stop (like “huh? That doesn’t seem to match to what I’ve read before”) and I start to “leaf” back, I’m usually surprised how many “pages” I have to go back to find something I’ve read “just before”.

Another neat gadget is the dictionary. If I press the finger on a word, the dictionary entry for it pop up. Especially useful if your English is as good as mine but not perfect – what was “lambent” again?

On the negative side, with the Kindle and similar tools, I don’t get much for my money. I surely don’t get a book – just the right to read one. Until someone decides different. So to ask a similar price for less service feels like a rip-off. For example, the paperback for David Weber‘s “A Mighty Fortress” costs EUR 5,50. The eBook goes for 5,22. The list price makes it look better: For the paperback, that would be EUR 11,- while the eBook is EUR 8,45 – 23% less.

But that’s without postage and packing and the fact that I get the book right away. So in reality, I get the book for about 40% less and I can get it as soon as I discover it.

But I can’t lend or sell it. Being an author, I usually don’t lend or sell my book, so that’s not a big deal for me. It still irks me. On the other hand, have all my books with me at all times. All of them.

Which leaves the only major drawback: There are two big, competing formats: Kindle and EPUB. And the Kindle doesn’t support EPUB (for obvious reasons). And I’d be surprised if, after one format “won,” you would be allowed to convert all your old books to the new format. OTOH, Amazon isn’t going to drop support for the Kindle format and the EPUB format is open (so anyone can implement a reader), that means your books won’t be worthless.

Until the seller goes bankrupt, of course. Or a lawsuit happens. Or crackers wipe their databases. After that, all your books will be unreadable.

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