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I Broke Down and Ordered a Kindle Paperwhite; Here’s Why

Ever since we first started this website, I’ve been staunchly anti-Kindle. I’ve disliked like Amazon’s DRM scheme, its reluctance to adopt library ebooks, its inhuman use of “Locations” instead of page numbers, its attempt to hardball Macmillan by refusing to sell Macmillan books, the list goes on.

When a Sony Reader was the only decent non-Kindle choice, I bought a Sony Reader. When the Nook Color came out, I got one of those. I’ve given my sister another Sony, and my mother a Kobo, and I’ve stayed firmly Kindle-less for more than four years now.

But that changed last week, when I broke down and ordered the Kindle Paperwhite ($120), which appeared (until that day) on our Ereader Comparison under the category “Those we don’t like.” We’d passed over it in favor of the Kindle Touch (which has been discontinued), and the Kobo Mini ($80, touch capable, more below).

Here’s why I did it. Some of these reasons might be more subjective than others, and some I’ve researched more thoroughly. And, because most of my reservations about the Kindle are philosophical ones, some of my understanding of its hardware and interface might be flat-out wrong. I’ll be updating and posting again when I actually start using it.
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We’ve updated our ereader comparison

The Kobo Touch, our top pick for casual readers.

A whole gaggle of new ereaders hit the market this month, just in time for the holiday season. We’ve updated our ereader comparison for this new slate: find it here, and find out why we don’t believe the hype about the Nook Tablet, and why the Kobo Touch is our top choice for casual readers.

In other news, we’re taking off for the rest of the week for Thanksgiving. We’ll be back on our regular schedule next week, when we’ll kick off our third annual Best Books series.

See you then, and happy Thanksgiving.

[Chamber Four's ereader comparison]

Banning Lendle is Really Dumb

News of Amazon shutting Lendle down today marks another sad chapter in the history of modern publishing.

Lendle, as the name implies, was a site that helped Kindle users utilize the lending feature included in some Kindle ebooks. They don’t pirate books or sell lending credits or increase the amount you can lend, they’re only a sophisticated bulletin board to match up borrowers and lenders.

When I first read that they’d been shut down, I was furious—but really, it makes a lot of sense. Amazon has never thought much of lending ebooks—it’s never allowed library ebooks on the Kindle, and when Barnes & Noble first announced the Nook’s LendMe feature, Bezos denounced it for being “extremely limited.” When Amazon caved and copied that exact lending feature, their execution of it was both obnoxious to use and riddled with bugs.

So, obviously Bezos wants credit for reader-friendly features like ebook lending, but doesn’t want customers to actually use those features, no matter how “limited” he claims they are. File this one under: another reason not to buy a Kindle.

The good news: you can still find people to borrow and share ebooks with, at such sites as BooksForNooks.comK BooksForMyEreader.com (formerly BooksForMyKindle, but they probably got cease-and-desisted), and eBookFling.com. At eBookFling, you can actually buy a lending credit (reportedly for $1.99), so you don’t have to own a single Kindle book to borrow them. Personally, I would’ve shut that site down and left Lendle up, but far be it from me to tell Bezos how to polish his head.

This is going to be an interesting one to watch, we haven’t had an AmazonFail in a while…

New Kindle Same As the Old Kindle; Wi-Fi-Only Kindle Now Cheapest E-Ink eReader

So Amazon announced the new Kindle Wednesday. Two big pieces of newsworthiness here.

One: TeleRead nailed the prediction. I mean, by a matter of hours.

Two: this wi-fi-only Kindle is a contender. It’s only $139 (ships Aug. 27), making it the cheapest E-Ink ereader on the market. Our problems with Amazon and Kindle still exist: the proprietary Kindle format means that you can never completely trust that you’ll always own your books; there’s always a chance that they’ll pull a Yahoo! Music and your ebooks will simply disappear. Of course, this is true of all DRMed formats, but with Adobe DRM, you can borrow library ebooks and not spend money you might never get back. To make matters worse, Jeff Bezos is kind of a jerk, and he frequently does things that are either stupid or just kind of bullyish.

All that said, $140 is a great price—that and the presence of Kindle apps on computers and smartphones makes the whole package quite tempting these days.

As for Kindle 3 (3G version), it’s the same as the old Kindle 2. It’s black now, I guess. A touch smaller. Buttons are a little different. Otherwise the new Kindle is nearly identical to the old, and still not our first choice for an ereader.