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Kindle 3 - Reading experience

Part 2/5 of my Kindle 3 Review

Reading

Reading on Kindle is like, err, like reading with a web browser. Don't get me wrong, I spend hours everyday reading in front of computer, emails, news, blog, Wikipedia articles, etc. So I'm very used to reading online with web browser. The thing about browser v.s. a physical material is that it feel like you're restricted to a small window to the sea of information.

Take newspaper for example. I now do over 90% of my reading online. But when I do have a physical paper once in a while, the experience is somewhat different, even though all the articles can be found online with the same content. For one thing, I can spread paper and scan the articles quickly. I seems to pickup more stories this way then when I scan them with a short headline on the web. If I do not find an interesting story, I flip to another page and another page quickly, much faster than the computer can reload another web page.

So Kindle is like a web browser. Only it has a even smaller screen than a computer. While I'm mumbling about the small window, did I tell you I do over 90% of my reading online? The accessibility and the timeliness of online material still triumph the physical medium. Same for Kindle. It is a limited device. But being able to carry it around with all my materials is the reason to have it. It is not better, just more convenient.

Fiction v.s. non-fiction

Here I must make some distinction on two kinds of reading, fiction and non-fiction. Reading a fiction is like watching a movie. There is a linear structure. You start from the beginning and move slowly to the end. In most case you don't want to interrupt the flow by jumping back and fro. Few people want to press the rewind button even if you lost a scene in a suspense movie. It is just too disruptive. For a novel, or a movie, once the story and characters develop, you will lost yourselves into the flow. It will be a enjoyable and captivating experience.

So for reading fictions, Kindle is an excellent device. The relative small screen size is not much of an impedance. There is enough space to engage you. I believe these readers form the loyal user base of Kindle since its first release. This also applies to narrative non-fiction which are often read like stories.

For non-fiction, the interaction is different. There is a need to jump between chapters. Often you want to re-read a chapter because you don't understand it or have skimmed through it the first time, but you find the later chapters keep referring back to it. A more fundamental question you will often ask is, "where am I in this book"?

This will tax Kindle's navigation capability, which I'll explore in another post.

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