"People read more than books" and they do it on their Kindles

“People read more than books” and they do it on their Kindles

Kottke says:

all these e-readers – the Kindle, Nook, Sony Reader, et al – are all focused on the wrong single use: books. (And in the case of at least the Nook and Kindle, the focus is on buying books from B&N and Amazon. The Kindle is more like a 7-Eleven than a book.) The correct single use is reading. Your device should make it equally easy to read books, magazine articles, newspapers, web sites, RSS feeds, PDFs, etc.

I find this statement odd. I read The New York Times, The New Yorker, Ars Technica, and PDF e-Books in addition to tons of books on my Kindle DX every week. The only paper periodical I still read is Harper’s Magazine, and only because it isn’t available on the Kindle yet.

The rest of this has nothing much to do what Jason said, but something more to do with people comparing e-Book readers (like the Kindle) with, well, anything else.

I feel that a lot of people who don’t use these devices—those based on e-ink displays—on a regular basis (for example, every day for a month) haven’t fully grokked why they exist as “single-use1” devices, and why they will exist and flourish in this way for perhaps longer than you might initially imagine. s No, the real reason that these devices excel in their category of mobile reading is because they are easy to read. Not just easier to read, but easier by leaps and bounds above anything else that currently exists—barring, of course, the printed page. Nothing that displays text, digitally, on a refreshable screen comes anywhere close.

No one who values their eyesight will sit for hours and hours and read intensely (not scan, flit, glance, or gaze) from an LCD. You can’t read from an LCD at all on a sufficiently bright day, and, to boot, lightweight, wireless, LCD-based reading devices (the ones people would prefer) always seem to have horrible battery life.

The reason you don’t and won’t see a similarly capable reading experience on the iPhone or a netbook is because the level of comfort available from e-ink is just not available or technically feasible on those devices.

I personally don’t think reading on a non-e-ink device will be popular until there is a radical leap forward in colorized e-ink devices. That leap would have to be a huuuge revolution to result in a convergence with high-resolution, millions-of-colors devices like laptops, netbooks, and phones.

For those curious, most people still beleive mass-produced, 12-bit color e-ink displays are still years and years out. And that doesn’t even address the slow refresh rates of these displays, which will probably be the larger hindrance to convergence.

So if you ever see someone bring up netbooks, mobile phones, or similar items when talking pontificating on Kindles or similar devices, please do yourself a favor and take what they’re saying with a grain of salt.