Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Kindle 3 Cases Reviewed and Helpful Links for Kindle Users

Although I’ll always be a fan of real books, I love my new Kindle 3. Thank you, Henry, for the best Christmas gift! I’ll be using my Kindle for travel, for review galleys and to have in my handbag when I’m out of the house. I’ll still buy plenty of real books from independent bookstores to read at home and to give as gifts.

Why I chose a Kindle 3

I chose the Kindle over the Nook and iPad because of the larger number of titles (including free classics) available for Kindles and because the backlit screens on the other 2 devices are harder on the eyes. The Kindle screen looks just like regular paper. It did take a while to configure the settings to download ebooks from Amazon, but now it’s one click easy, taking only one minute.

The new Kindle has all the features I’ve been waiting for: visibility in bright sunlight (for beach reading), smaller and lighter (8.7 oz), and an ability to lend books (for 2 weeks.) The cost has come down too. My husband got me the 3G version ($189) so that I can download books anywhere and get newspapers daily while traveling. The cheaper version ($139) requires proximity to a Wifi network for downloads, but you don't need to be connected while reading.

Tip: to save batteries, disconnect from the WiFi when you’re not downloading books. Then the charge should last for a month.

Review of Kindle 3 Cases

Kindle Lighted Leather Cover, Duragadget Case with Adjustable Stand, Timbuk2 Envelope Sleeve

Choosing a Kindle was easy, but finding the right case was difficult. I tried out several cases, but none was perfect. The Kindle Lighted Leather Cover ($34.99, 15 oz, above left) has the best reading light. I like the colorful outside paired with a dark grey interior and secure Kindle clips. Unfortunately, the case is bulky, heavy and has a rough pebble grain in the leather. It would only be worth getting if you read in dim lighting or crave a hardcover book feel. This cover negates the advantage of a lightweight Kindle over a book.

The Timbuk2 Envelope Sleeve ($25, 4.2 oz, above right) and Flapjacket ($40, 6.4 oz, not shown) are both lightweight, durable nylon and stylish, but the Envelope adds bulk plus noisy velcro and the Flapjacket is expensive. Neither one has a stand nor a light.

Of my sampling, Duragadget makes the most utilitarian and least expensive Kindle 3 case ($18.99, 10.6 oz, above center). This slim leather cover has an integral stand for hands-free reading. The red case is prettier but black was less distracting while reading. The stand was sturdy enough to rest on my lap or armchair. The stabilizer flips up to become a protective cover with a magnetic closure. The picture frame style stands from other companies (viewed online) looked like they wouldn’t balance as well on my lap. I wish the Duragadget had a reading light and a more attractive exterior, but it's still the best option. Thank you, dovegreyreader, for the recommendation.

Options Beyond These Cases: Skins/Decals, including one from Van Gogh, look cool but don’t protect the Kindle screen. At Wired I read about the cheapest case option: an ordinary 6X9 padded mailing envelope! Since the Kindle 3 is so new, there are bound to be more options later. Let me know in a comment if you find a better case.

Digital Galleys for Book Bloggers

As a book blogger, the main draw of a Kindle will be digital galleys. Advanced Reader Copies (also called galleys) are sent free to reviewers like me at high cost to the publishers (more than a finished hardcover book.) ARCs are full of typos and formatting errors so are not worth saving or passing onto others. Frequently publishers run out of popular ARCs and leftovers can’t be sold. It makes a lot of sense to switch ARCs to digital galley format. Go to Netgalley to request free digital galleys from publishers for review purposes.

Useful Links for Kindle Users

The Story Siren, a hub for YA book bloggers, asked her readers to share useful links for Kindle users:

The Social Frog gave the link to Kindle Boards
Catherine gave the link to The Kindle Lending Club on Facebook
Gaby shared the link to a similar lending club at Goodreads
Elizabeth checks eReader IQ daily for posts on free ebooks, price drops and new titles
Anna recommended Books on The Knob for free ebooks

Thank you, Story Siren and commenters!
Do you have more tips or helpful links? Please comment below and I'll add a link here:

David Cranmer commented with a link to Project Gutenberg with 33,000 free ebooks for all ereaders.

What I’m reading and not yet noting on my Kindle:

I like to read the book before seeing the movie spin off. I loved Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day, both the novel (1989) and the movie (1993). Unfortunately my local independent bookstore was sold out of Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go (2005) which is now a movie too. I didn’t want to order the latest paperback edition because I dislike movie tie-in covers so I downloaded the ebook for $5 after sampling the first chapter for free.

It’s perfect reading a futuristic story like Never Let Me Go on a new age ereader. I don’t know what page I’m on, but the Kindle remembers my place. It shows my location by line and percent (25%) of book. Just a few chapters in, I’m very much enjoying my first ebook.

Still, I prefer the feel of a real book and the ease of scribbling notes in the margins. The Kindle allows you to highlight, bookmark and type margin notes, but I haven't figured that out yet. I'm not sure why someone else's highlights are appearing automatically in the text. Very distracting. I know, RTFM. There is a manual pre-installed on my Kindle only I need to read it first before I can skip to the relavent section. Sigh. Good project for a snowy day.

Reviewer’s Disclaimer: I was not paid to review any of the above products. The Kindle was a gift from my husband, and I bought the ebook and cases to sample. I kept the Duragadget case and returned the others.

Storm Watch: a blizzard is due later today with up to a foot of snow predicted. We're thrilled because Maine has had less snow than usual and we're well set up to deal with it. The storms have all gone south and wrecked havoc. My son's first two Nordic ski races were cancelled due to lack of cover, even up north in the mountains. Ironically his race was cancelled today due to the storm. We'll be skiing out back in the woods. I love a snow day as long as we don't lose power.


Tracy Golightly-Garcia said...

Hello Sarah

Thank you for this great review on the Kindle 3. I have been looking into the Nook and now I will consider the Kindle 3.

Sarah, do you think books will be the thing of the past in years to come, because of the Kindle and Nook??

Have a great day

Tracy :)

Rose said...

Your timing couldn't be better, Sarah--I received a Kindle for Christmas, too, and have been looking for covers. I didn't realize how expensive they were until I was browsing at Barnes and Noble and looked at their Nook covers, which, of course, are not compatible with the Kindle. I do a little sewing and was thinking of making my own; then I found some sites online with instructions for making one. I haven't started it yet, but if it turns out well, I'll let you know.

I still love real books, and I hope the day never comes when they are obsolete. But I can see where something so lightweight will come in handy, especially for traveling. I've already downloaded a couple of books for reading when I visit my daughter in Oregon next month. Right now I'm afraid I've become addicted to the game "Every Word":)

A Cuban In London said...

Many thanks for your review of the Kindle.

It's good to read that your passion for independent shops will not abate, just because new technology has found an abode on your desk. I'm one of those sceptics about new gadgets such as the Nook and the iPad but at the same time welcome the addition to a market that desperately needed a shot in the arm. If the new generation reads the Austens and Rushdies of this world on their iPads, who am I to oppose them?

The one thing, though, that would make me buy a reading device (albeit reluctantly) would be the weight. My copy of 'Ulysses' (just the finished the intro, have yet to start the novel) is quite heavy, even though it's the paperback edition. 8.7 oz would be very welcome on these shores.

And you don't like movie tie-in covers! Hooray! Yup, me neither. I can understand the rationality behind them, but find them cheap (in the narrowest sense of the word) and off-putting.

Many thanks for your reviews. enjoy your Kindle.

Greetings from London.

tina said...

So glad you posted this. I just can't leave my books behind and pop them in my purse but I can understand the ease of this and getting books on the go. I was wondering what the draw was. Very nice!

Sarah Laurence said...

Tracy, very interesting question on the future of books. Books have survived centuries, and I bet my Kindle will be obsolete in under ten years, although my library will be saved online. I think we’ll still have books like we still have print photos despite the advent of digital photography. I predict that hardbacks will become collectors’ items but cheap paperbacks will survive for the masses. I’m hoping that these digital readers might actually save the art of the novel. The shift to ebooks will certainly transform the world of publishing.

Rose, do blog about your homemade Kindle cover and link to the instructional site or come back here and comment. I also hope that real books will never go obsolete and felt a little guilty contributing to that. Still, even with my ereader, I will probably buy more real books than most people.

ACIL, yes the Kindle will be great for those thick tomes. It took me close to a year to make it through one of my favorite books, A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth, because 1,400 pages was too heavy to lug around. It’s funny: after slamming movie tie-in covers, I rather prefer the movie cover (posted) for Never Let Me Go over the original book cover with a weird face. Usually I can’t stand the tie in covers, especially if they show movie stars. I like to imagine the characters myself from the author’s words.

Tina, I’m now pickier over which real books I’ll buy – they need to be ones I expect to reread and/or share with my family or have a gorgeous cover/binding. For reading on the go, the Kindle is best.

walk2write said...

I can see where these devices would help tremendously with the textbook problem. Think of all those poor kids/young adults whose necks and backs will be saved. Lugging around just my Bevington's Shakespeare book probably contributed to at least four visits to the chiropractor.

Thanks for the link to the free galley site. One of these days when (not if) I get a Kindle, I'll be up to that sort of challenge.

Stay safe in the storm. I just e-mailed my brother in Portland and asked how the weather is. He has been there for years and doesn't complain much, but I bet he will be sending me some interesting images and comments in a day or so.

David Cranmer said...

Wonderful links and many new to me, Sarah. Thank you.

I mentioned one last week on my blog called Project Gutenberg that has quite a few classics. I picked up Dorian Gray, Sherlock Holmes, and Jules Verne for free.

Sarah Laurence said...

W2W, it would be great if heavy textbooks were replaced with electronic readers. Portland is due to get up to 18 inches of snow. The storm hadn’t started at 7am when I posted, but three and a half hours later, we already have a half a foot of snow! I will post photos next week after we dig out. My son thinks it too stormy to venture out now.

David, thanks for the recommendation. I’ll add the link to my post.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

We are in the middle of a snow 'week' here. Most unusual. Nobody is going no where.

I loved Never Let Me Go, the book that is. I haven't yet seen the movie. Rather bleak, but so much to think about.

And I'm not yet part of the Kindle brigade, although several members of one of my book clubs swear by it. I'm part of a regular book club, and a "classics" book club. Funnily enough, no one in the classics club wishes to even consider a Kindle. But I can see that they would be helpful for travel, especially as I am always the one with her luggage loaded down with books.

Carol said...

Dear Sarah, This is a wonderful and helpful post! I am planning to buy a Kindle and you have just made it so much easier for me. Thank you!! I too will continue buying real books . . . nothing could ever take their place. I do wonder at times about all the micro waves going through our bodies however. It just seems to be the way of most of our lives now . . . as I sit here writing from my wireless computer.

Sarah Laurence said...

Pamela, we’ve gotten over a foot of snow, and it’s still coming down. The only people out in it are on snowshoes, other than my crazy son who declined to borrow mine to visit a friend nearby. I forced him to take a flashlight for the journey home. Your classics group could read for free, but it’s not surprising that they would prefer the classic medium. I love reading our leather bound classics. My husband collects them. The main draw of the Kindle for me was the weight.

Carol, you’ll be relieved to hear that the Kindle uses very little power. It’s only active when turning a page or downloading. What you see are static pearls, either black or white, behind a non-glare screen, which is why it appears like paper and is easier on your eyes than a computer screen or iPad/Nook.

Cat said...

Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts on the Kindle covers and the useful sites for Kindle readers. I've had a Kindle for almost three years and love it! Welcome to the family ;)

Hana Njau-Okolo said...

Asante sana for the review and tips! I'll keep in mind for when I finally get one, I know the day is coming.

Speaking of the snow storm and havoc wreaked...Atlanta was paralyzed by snow then ice; we got a whopping 6 inches in our area. So we've had three snow days since Monday; my son is tired already! I'm sort of ready to go back to work, too. :-) City is just not equipped to handle snow. We are praying for enough sunshine to melt the ice off the roads and highways. Limited bus service resumes tomorrow, so I'm hopeful.

Thanks again for sharing your tips and knowledge.

Susan R. Mills said...

Okay, I wanted an e-reader for Christmas until I discovered that I could download books to my smart phone. I still want an e-reader, but I've been perfectly happy with my phone so far. I'll keep this post in mind when I actually do shop for a "real" e-reader.

elizabeth said...

What a super Christmas present.
and what detailed reviews!

I have had a kindle for two years and though I use it quite a lot,
I still love books better.
What richness we have.
All I need is the luxury of time to do all the reading I want to.
New Year's greetings from horribly cold NY
though you have it much colder, but as you said, you are better equipped
to enjoy it.

Judy Croome | @judy_croome said...

My husband aslo gave me a Kindle3. I received it early in November and it was love at first read.

Sadly, my Kindle died on 2 January. Poof. Kaput. Dead. After numerous attempts to contact Amazon by email, I was forced to phone them (I live in South Africa). The agent was friendly and helpful and mentioned that some Kindle user who have the UNLIGHTED cover are having problems with their Kindle. As my Kindle was still under warranty it was replaced at no charge - well, sort of. Living in SA, I'm about RZAR1000 out of pocket with Foreign exchange losses, telephone calls and the cost of returning the old kindle and cover. And I'm still Kindle-less as my new one hasn't arrived yet. :( But I'm sure I'll love it as much as I loved my first one!
Judy (South Africa)

Amanda Summer said...

i have been hesitating to buy an e reader due to so much conflicting info -- thanks for your recommendation as i completely trust your judgment. i'm dreaming about how many books i can actually take with me now on a vacation without loading my suitcase!

cynthia newberry martin said...

I believe I'll always prefer a real book but do own a Kindle for travel and immediate downloads--a very useful feature! But I also have an iPad and an iPhone and use the Kindle App on each of those. (Just call me Gadget Girl.) I can be reading on the Kindle in the sun, go inside and read on the iPad, which I prefer for the look of the page and the readability (since I don't use ereaders alot), then be in line at the grocery store and continue where I left off at home. My place syncs automatically between the three. And until you try it, you cannot imagine how pleasant it actually is to read on the iPhone.

Enjoy your snow--schools in Atlanta were closed all week due to snow and ice. But it's not quite the same as Vermont where I just was : )

Booksnyc said...

I got an iPad recently at a work conference and enjoyed it on my trip to Thailand - I had so many books on hand without the weight! Some of my tripmates had Kindles and I saw the advantages - lighter and being able to read in sunlight (which is key for a beach vacation!)

Enjoy the snow and skiing!

troutbirder said...

Traditionalist that I am I'm still mulling it over. It will happen eventually though. :)
I just reviewed Laura Hillenbrands Unbroken on my other blog. There is something to be said about browsing at Barnes and Noble, shelling out big bucks and then holding a real book in your hand.

Bee said...

I missed Never Let Me Go when it was first published, and like you, want to read it before the movie gets here! Also like you, I don't like the book cover inspired by the film. (No matter how well it's done, it always seems a bit cheesy.)

I've been a Kindle hold-out so far. Please let me know, after six months or so, if you are sticking with it and enjoying it.

I hope that some pictures of the Big Snow are soon to follow!

Sarah Laurence said...

Whimsical, thanks for adding your experience with the Kindle.

Mama Shujaa, sorry to hear about your snow woes. I do hope the sun is back by now. We are better equipped for snow in Maine but not so good on heat waves.

Susan, I don’t have a smart phone but I hear you can synch it with a Kindle.

Elizabeth, I’m not surprised to hear that you are like me on books & Kindles. Keep warm!

Judy, what a nightmare! I’m surprised to hear that a case would affect the function unless it was dropped. Good to hear you got a replacement on the way. Welcome to my blog!

Amanda, Kindles are good for back pain.

Cynthia, how much fun to be able to swap devices without losing your bookmark! My husband is considering an iPad since he would use it more for work sites than for reading. I do hope you are thawed out by now.

Booksnyc, thanks for contrasting the iPad to the Kindle. I haven’t tried mine out on the beach yet. I’ll be skiing again this afternoon.

Troutbirder, I’ll check out your review soon. I loved Hillenbrands’ Seabiscuit and this new one looks interesting.

Bee, Never Let Me Go was due to come to Brunswick’s artsy cinema (Eveningstar) but I think it might have gotten nudged out of the queue by an extension of Black Swan. We’ll have to rent it. I’ll report back on my Kindle once I’ve broken it in. I am actually still reading real books more since I have a backlog and ARCs too. I posted a snow photo today. We’re still digging out after a second storm.

Donna said...

I was curious as to what you think of e-readers. I've been resistant to them because I love good "old-fashioned" books and I don't want e-readers to be the end of them, but the Kindle does sound really nice and convenient. I've heard good things about it. I got an iPad for Christmas and haven't used iBooks yet but I did look at a sample book on it and the display was a lot nicer and more readable than I thought it would be. I'll probably be taking the plunge and reading my first e-book in the not-too-distant future!