I'm an ebook convert now

Matt has made it well known that he loves his Kindle and for a while I thought about buying one too. Unfortunately I’ll have to order it from Amazon.com in the US because I live in Ireland. Attempts to buy it from Amazon.co.uk result in an error and asks me to go visit the US site. When you add shipping costs and import fees it drives the price on Amazon.com up to $193.58!

So, if not the Kindle, how do I read ebooks? On my phone of course! I downloaded the Android Kindle app for my Samsung Galaxy S. The 4 inch screen of this phone is plenty big enough for reading, though you won’t be doing it at arm’s length. It’s also backlit so there’s no need for a light to shine on the device to read it. That suits me as the majority of my reading is done when I’m in bed at night. I don’t think I’ll ever read a magazine on the phone as the screen is too small. I tried reading bits and pieces of a Retro Gamer pdf on it but it was a horrible experience. I presume Kindle formatted magazines are better suited to the small screen?

I tried reading books on previous phones but each time it was one of the free “out of copyright” books I picked up rather than a book I had to spend money on. Last September at Seaside all that changed when I bought the Kindle version of Terry Pratchett’s “Unseen Academicals” and put the paperback version of that book back into my bag. It was wonderful!

I don’t think I’ve bought a paperback since. I wandered into Waterstones once (killing time, I didn’t even head over to the sci-fi section), and any time I pop into Eason’s it’s to buy a magazine. I’ve since made several purchases on amazon.com including a few books by authors unknown to me. Check out Containment and Brainbox by Christian Cantrell for example.

I’m not happy about everything Kindle however. Even though Ireland is in the European Union along with the UK, Amazon customers here cannot buy the Kindle or ebooks through amazon.co.uk. Instead we have to use amazon.com. Thankfully there’s no VAT on books so the US price is the price Irish customers pay. Good thing the Euro is stronger than the US Dollar. It does however mean that we have to buy books with American English spelling and that won’t improve the humour of those people who will criticise the service.

Also, some books cannot be bought because I’m not in the United States or United Kingdom. Ender’s Game is one such novel. If I search Amazon.com for that title I won’t be shown the Kindle version at all but I found it by using Google. I can’t even look for it on amazon.co.uk because I’m in Ireland, not the UK. I understand this is probably because publishers have regional contracts but this is digital data and Amazon has a worldwide audience.

I’d still like to try out a Kindle as a reading device as I’ve heard so many good things about it, but the important part of the Kindle are the books, and I can read them just fine on my phone.

Besides the Kindle app there are many other Android ebook readers. I particularly like FBReader myself but check the market for others.

For historical purposes for those reading this in 10 years time when it will probably be hard to buy paperback books, Amazon sold more ebooks during the last 3 months of 2010 than paperbacks.

Amazon has revealed that it has sold more Kindle ebooks than paperbacks in the US during the final three months of 2010.

A similar pattern has continued during January 2011 with 115 ebooks being sold for every 100 paperbacks.


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10 thoughts on “I'm an ebook convert now


  1. Amazon.ca does the same thing. I think I spent half an hour trying to find kindles there. No direction, no links, no idea.

    Yep, gotta buy it from the .com.


  2. I can’t confirm this, but a few of my twitter friends have said that PC World are selling Kindles in-store (but not through their website). Might be worth checking out if you’re really gumming for one. I caved and bought myself one from .com just after Christmas and it was worth every penny, if only for the way it’s revolutionised my Instapaper use.


  3. I don’t mind reading text on LCD screens but for novels the Kindle’s E-Ink screen makes a huge difference and Instapaper has shifted most of my online article reading onto that screen too.

    The best thing about my Kindle is that I am reading voraciously again, a habit I slipped out of over the past few years. I have been reading a book per day since September.

    With regard to you having to use the US Kindle store, I live in the UK but deliberately changed my account to use the US store – right now, the prices seem similar but, historically, book prices are always lower and availability higher in the US, I expect that pattern to reassert itself once Amazon stops pricing as ruthlessly as they have been in order to create the market. Also, I’m not sure if many publishers go to the trouble of creating different American and UK English versions (do they make US English versions of Roddy Doyle? Irvine Welsh?) but I doubt you’ll notice anyway – after all, we spend our days online floating between the two types of English anyway.

    Whatever device you use, you should check out Calibre, the open source ebook library app.


  4. I have to say the kindle screen is amazing!
    I was very sceptical until i actually got to use one. i’m a huge fan of books and my phone (its an orange san francisco android) just didn’t do it for me. the screen was too small to properly read a book on it…. (although i can easily browse websites without a problem, go figure!)
    Battery lasts for ever too!
    The only gripe i have is the fact it doesn’t have a light. this makes reading at night quite hard. My current solution is to use my phone as a light which works quite well if i’m honest.

    I highly recommend you go find a kindle, i’m sure some shop in ireland has them. if not pop over the border!


  5. I have to agree, the Kindle app for Android (and also iPhone but I only have one for dev purposes..) is extremely useful.

    I spent the small hours of the morning travelling from Grenoble to Cork via Geneva (train), then via Dublin (Aer Lingus) and finally to Cork via train… and not one need to open bags to take out books, flip pages, move too much while I was resting etc.. just flick of the thumb and the page changed.

    God send. My view on reading books on a small screen has been changed massively, it’s ultra convenient – and while it’s not necessary to view the entire page’s text in one go, it will take a tiny bit of adjusting.

    One word of warning – not all books are optimised correctly. I ordered a book called “The Squad” which is about Michael Collin’s Intelligence activities – the pages do not render correctly AT ALL.. I’ve notified Amazon but still waiting for some reaction from the publishers.


  6. I love the Kindle app! I have it on my iPad and HTC Desire, and it’s great for reading a chapter or two of a book when you’re on the move. The way that it syncs in real time means that you can switch between devices and take up reading where you left off. Genius.

    Only problem with it is the back catalogue of books isn’t as super as it could be at the moment, but no doubt they’re working on that.


  7. I’ve held off for a long time, still preferring physical books, but it’s become so convenient to read the Kindle books now.

    I finally made the switch when deciding on a book to buy that had a physical and Kindle version. The Kindle book was less expensive and I could start reading it immediately on my computer.

    The great thing is that you can read from your computer, and then later pick up reading at the same spot you left off at on your phone. I think I’ll finally be getting a Kindle from Amazon.


  8. I think you’ll find that VAT is payable on Kindle books bought from the UK store but not from the US store, if so then that’s a plus to offset the negatives :-)

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