Two weeks ago, I broke down and bought a Kindle. I like it:
- It’s a good and well-designed reader, and the experience is much better than the other e-book reading I’ve done before on phones and PDAs. I like how when you bookmark a page, you can see it… the corner of the page gets a little dog-ear. 
- It’s got a nice e-paper screen that uses ambient light, not backlight, which makes it readable anywhere just like a printed page — it’s even better, not worse, in direct sunlight.
- It’s light and thin and sturdy. Sure beats carrying three or four books on a trip.
- It has great battery life. I’ve only charged it once so far, when I first received it… since then I’ve had it for 11 days and read a full book and a half, and it still has 75% of its first charge left. (It helps that I turn the wireless off unless I’m actively using it.)
- Fast, free wireless everywhere in the U.S., without computers or WiFi.
But today, it transformed my reading experience.
This morning, I was unsuspectingly reading my feeds in Google Reader as usual, blissfully unaware that the way I read books was about to change. Among other articles, I noticed that Slashdot ran a book review of Inside Steve’s Brain (that’s Jobs, not Wozniak or Ballmer). The review made me want to read the book. That’s when the new reality started, because I was interested in the book now, and had time to start reading it now:
- Normally, I would have ordered it from Amazon and waited for it to arrive. But what usually happens then is that the book arrives a week later, and when it gets here I don’t have time to start it right away or I don’t quite feel like that kind of book just at the moment… and it goes on a shelf, with a 70% probability of being picked up at some point in the future.
- Today, I searched for the book title on my Kindle, clicked “Buy”, and a few minutes later started reading Inside Steve’s Brain while eating lunch. 
That convenience isn’t merely instant gratification, it’s transformative. I suspect I’m going to be reading even more books now, even though I have a few little nits with the device, such as that the next and previous page buttons are a little too easy to press in some positions.
In other news, the Kindle also supports reading blogs and newspapers and some web surfing, but those are less compelling for me because I tend to do those things in the context of work, which means I’m already sitting at a computer with a bigger color screen and full keyboard. Maybe someday I’ll do it on e-paper. Until then, just living inside a virtual bookstore is plenty for me. Kindle + the Amazon Kindle store = iPod + iTunes for books. 
Here’s a useful summary article on Kindle features from a prospective user’s point of view.
1. The first two books I downloaded? The Design of Everyday Things, which was interestingly apropros to read on a new device like the Kindle with its nice dog-ear feedback and other well-designed features, and Foundation, which I hadn’t read in ages.
2. And it cost less than half what the dead-tree version would (though the latter was hardcover).
3. Caveat: I’m not actually an iPod owner, and I hate how Apple keeps insisting on installing iTunes on my computer just because I have Safari or QuickTime installed (mutter grumble evil product-tying monopolies mutter grumble :-) ). But apparently everyone else loves them, and they have indeed changed their industry.