For the Love of Kindle

joe —  Sun 24-Jul-11 — 10 Comments
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One of my favorite scenes from Anchorman is when Brick declares his undying love for a lamp. I have that same sort of love for my Kindle.

If you are an avid reader how could you not love something that allowed your entire book collection be contained in 9 ounces of electronic wizardry? No more bright sun washout at the beach. No more lost bookmarks or folded pages. I can lookup words I don’t know and get the latest book from the comfort of my couch. Now I can read on my elliptical without having to forge some unnatural physical device to keep the pages open.

I love Kindle. It is utilitarian paradise.

Then why do I download all of my books to my iPad?
The problem with my Kindle is that it has great utility but I am left feeling a little cold when using it. It doesn’t have the warmth of a real book or even my iPad, yet it is more functional than either. I don’t see the font variations used, the illustrations aren’t as vivid and to be honest there is something comforting about a dog-eared page. Plus it is all in black and grey.

EU GraphEverything that has ever been designed has both utility and an emotional appeal to it. The utility can easily be measured; the emotional appeal is a little harder. Yet we continue to buy and use based on how something makes us feel. It’s as if we have self-worth wrapped up into our electronics.

My Mac is a great example. I have heard all of the technical arguments from both sides on why the Mac or PC is a better platform. In all honesty most of them are really hollow – you can do great things with both. The reason I love my Mac is that it appeals to my aesthetic and emotional needs.

As a designer (and we are all designers of some sort) we must consider the emotional aspect of our audience. If we are going to fill a technical need we should also strive to fill an emotional one as well.

KindleSo if I am willing to forfeit some utility to gain emotional comfort from my iPad, why even keep the Kindle around? Because there are some situations where utility trumps emotions. I keep my Kindle for the many times a year I go to the beach.

I make-up the emotional loss with crashing waves and warm sea breezes.

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  • Paul

    Don’t you feel like you’re cheating on your faithful Kindle when you read on the iPad?  lol

    • http://thestrandedstarfish.com Joe Kleinwaechter

      I really do! My Kindle gets back at me by draining its battery just before I head to the beach.

      • Rchrzanows

        As elegant as the e-readers are, call me cheap but I haven’t been able to bring myself to purchase a $150 electronic device that only does one function – it seems redundant. I’ve actually been reading a lot of books on my iPhone using a Kindle app (with large font). It does the job, & I don’t have to carry another device. Guessing I’ll probably buy an Ipad before an e-reader. Granted, they are lousy for reading on the beach. :-)

        • http://thestrandedstarfish.com Joe Kleinwaechter

          A friend of mine is in the process of buying a Kindle for the sole reason that it is by far the easiest on her eyes. She doesn’t want to learn all the things about an iPad and just wants to read books with little eye strain wherever she wants. The Kindle hits that sweet spot.

          I like the fact that the books are much cheaper (mostly). I just bought a book that was $24.99 + s/h for $2.99. That’s rare to have that big of a discount but I almost always save at least $5.

          I can’t imagine reading a book on an iPhone.

          • Robbi

            Yes the books are much cheaper & nearly always available, whether on the eReader or the app. That’s what everyone says about reading on an iPhone but it definitely works for me (so far anyway) – also allows sharing of books with my sons who also have the free app on their iPod touch’s. It’s completely eliminated those last-minute frantic trips to multiple book stores for that book they forgot to mention they HAVE to have for school “tomorrow”. I’d be curious to know if anyone else who has tried it thinks it’s possible to read books on their iPhone, given a large enough font.

          • Debra

            I have no trouble reading books on my iPhone with its fine screen, but I use it primarily as a backup to my Kindle. For my primary ereader, give me my drab little Kindle for its eInk technology, light weight, small size, long battery life, and lack of distractions such as I find on my iPad (Facebook, Angry Birds, people’s blogs). Besides, my Kindle is quite stylin in its Scatter Dot cover (http://amzn.to/pf4TfC). Admittedly, Kindle is not best for books based on a lot of graphics or images, but it suits me best for general sitting and reading.

  • James

    So where does the Nook fit into all of this?  With its glorious touch interface while still using eInk technology I think it might even trump the Kindle.  I’m not even going to get into the Nook Color which is the redhead stepchild of the iPad and Nook 😉  I think emotion and utility will unite once “dual screen/dual purpose” tablets come out.  One side full color touch and the other will be an eInk screen; great idea but are you ready to sell your youngest child to afford one?

  • Anonymous

    Perhaps one day I will have an opinion on this, but as it is I only have real books and books on my iTouch to compare…apples and oranges to be honest…regardless, great article Joe!

    • http://thestrandedstarfish.com Joe Kleinwaechter

      Thank you Lynn. I had to either switch to an eBook reader or buy a bigger house.

  • Robert Mcewin

    Joe I haven’t bought a “real” book since I bought my first Kindle 2.5 years ago.  Don’t miss them a bit.

    Robert