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Old 02-28-2009, 08:06 AM   #1
ktinkel
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Default Got my Kindle

The Kindle 2 arrived on Wednesday, a day early. Figured out how to use it (not too difficult so long as you do everything Amazon wants you to do; of course, I wanted to do something else, so need to download the PDF manual — but I haven’t done that yet).

Some observations:

It is easy to read, and I have only used the default type size. The book I am reading has several typos (apostrophe errors, in particular). And some very odd spacing — two spaces between words at some points. The text is unjustified (thank God!) so there is no reason to mess with the spacing, and I am (predictably) annoyed by it.

It is easier to visit Amazon to browse for books by computer, then use the teeny, tiny keys on the Kindle to search for and buy.

They advertise that most books cost $10; some cost less; and some cost more (one I considered cost $15). They claim to have 240,000 titles, but many relatively current titles are from the NY Times bestseller list, and most of my favorites never make that.

Of mysteries, only one of Sara Paretsky’s books was listed (an old one I had read), but all of Sue Grafton’s. Of course I prefer Paretsky, but I will consider getting a Grafton as soon as I figure out which letter (R, S, ?) I read last.

Out of curiosity rather than high expectations, I searched on typography and cooking. The type-related books were mostly technical (lots were about TeX); the cookbooks were old or really, really silly.

I did find some free books at Gutenberg Project that appealed to me, and downloaded a few to my computer, but until I get that PDF manual, do not know how to get them into the Kindle. Viewed “Free Books” at the Kindle store, and bought (for a buck) the complete works of Edgar Allen Poe.

The oddest thing is that I feel reluctant to buy Kindle books. I will probably get used to it.

One problem is that you cannot pass a Kindle book along to someone else, as I often do with real books. I understand the author and publisher concerns, but a book — especially light fiction — is not software. This affects my decision as to what to buy, however.

I bought it a leather cover. Protects the Kindle and makes it more pleasant to handle and more book-like when reading. Unless I fold the front cover back, however, it makes the PREV key harder to reach.

   
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Old 02-28-2009, 09:57 AM   #2
Gerry Kowarsky
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My recollection is that the font on the original Kindle was PMN Caecelia. Is that still true?
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Old 02-28-2009, 12:09 PM   #3
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My recollection is that the font on the original Kindle was PMN Caecelia. Is that still true?
Looks it. Pixel-y, but Caecelia can take it (I used to use it for faxing).

   
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Old 02-28-2009, 05:55 PM   #4
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Can you back up your Kindle books to a computer, then copy them back to the Kindle later?

   
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Old 02-28-2009, 11:02 PM   #5
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How's the text to speech feature?
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Old 03-01-2009, 07:21 AM   #6
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Can you back up your Kindle books to a computer, then copy them back to the Kindle later?
Yes (or so it says — I haven’t worked out how to move things from computer to Kindle or vice-versa). And anything you buy from Amazon is held there as well so you can always go download it again.

   
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Old 03-01-2009, 07:22 AM   #7
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How's the text to speech feature?
Dunno. Will try to check it out shortly.

David Pogue didn’t think much of it, but someone else said it was charming. We shall see.

   
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Old 03-01-2009, 10:46 AM   #8
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andrew: How's the text to speech feature?
According to The Washington Post tech guy who reviewed the new Kindle, not very good...

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Old 03-01-2009, 11:27 AM   #9
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The book I am reading has several typos (apostrophe errors, in particular). And some very odd spacing — two spaces between words at some points.
That sounds like OCR errors. I wonder if someone just scans a hardcopy of the book and OCRs it to text, without bothering to proofread it. I hate that and feel like I'm being cheated whenever I run across it. Like buying a cheap bootleg from some shady character at a flea market.

I imagine that probably IS what happens to create the Kindle editions--I suppose it's unlikely that they'd get the original text files from the book publisher. They probably just pay a licence fee to OCR the print editions.

   
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Old 03-01-2009, 12:00 PM   #10
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That sounds like OCR errors.
Doesn’t look like it to me — looks like a decision to space out short lines. Looks terrible, much worse than a short line would. I have never seen OCR errors in that sort of pattern.

Actually, now I see something else: some pages or paras are justified, more or less (maybe one or two lines are not full-width), others appear to be ragged. These spaces are clearly attempts to recreate justified text on a low-res system. The awkward spacing results from attempting to justify without auto-hyphenation. Amateur hour!

And the apostrophe errors look all too human, too. So does the “pouring through their pages” on one page. (To be fair, I suppose that sort of error could have come from the originals, though I don’t remember similar errors in the print editions of other stories in the series.)

Quote:
I suppose it's unlikely that they'd get the original text files from the book publisher. They probably just pay a licence fee to OCR the print editions.
Maybe. Probably easier all around that way, especially given the time and distance lag between manuscript and finished book.

   
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