E-Books, or Kindle? What Kindle?

I have an iPhone. Have had since about two weeks after they first came out. Now that third party apps are available, I’m having more fun than ever. One app in particular that I’m enjoying is Stanza, a free e-book reader. It’s great. There are thousands of books available for free, and also many available for purchase. I already have a dozen books on my iPhone.

That said, I have some gripes.

First, navigation within the application is less than great. The main menu lists numerous categories including several different e-book suppliers. Instead of just presenting a list of all available material and then once you’ve found something showing who will give/sell it to you, first you have to choose a provider, and then browse through their catalog. Don’t find what you’re looking for? Then navigate all the way up and choose another provider.

Second, navigation within books is a bit funky. You use gestures, but instead of swiping the text to move it up or down, the text is divided into pages and you tap (or swipe) to swipc from one page to the next. Resizing happens by pinching as you would expect, but only in increments, and the screen update takes too long as well.

Third, there is the pricing. One of the first things I did was look up a book I have on my nightstand that just doesn’t seem to get read. I bought the paperback for about seven dollars new. The e-book version, presumably based on the hardcover edition, was something over twenty dollars. There’s already a great deal of free fiction. How long before free books drive out pay books?

So, quick comparison:

Cost: the Kindle with no monthly fee wins compared to the iPhone, but the iPod Touch is cheaper still.

Storage: the iPhone and the iPod Touch both win handily here, with several times as much storage.

Display: the Kindle has roughly three times the pixels, but no color. Still, color isn’t too necessary for books, so the Kindle wins. The e-ink aspect works in the Kindle’s favor as well, unless there’s a problem with it I don’t know about.

Content Pricing: not sure, but Amazon seems to have better pricing, at least on non-free material.

Connectivity: the Kindle has the same as the iPhone, but with no monthly fee. Assuming you use the iPhone as a phone, a tie. Compared to the iPod Touch the Kindle wins.

Openness: the iPhone/iPod Touch win, with standard e-book readers.

Convenience: if the iPhone is your phone, then it wins big time. You always have it with you. The Kindle is more cumbersome, but smaller than real books.

Battery Life: the Kindle lasts much longer, but as long as you’re charging your iPhone each night, not a problem.

In all, I’m happy with my iPhone.

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