Thursday, January 05, 2017

kindle me this

OK. Where were we?

Oh, right. We were talking about how our electronic gadgets have usually made our lives a lot simpler -- at least, more efficient (slippery years).

I have written about my love of Kindles for so long, I doubt there is anyone who has stopped here before who thinks I will exclusively revert to hardbound books. I still buy them. But mainly to fill the library with reading material for guests. And to give those admitted to my library a hint of who I am.

During the past seven years, I have been through a series of Kindles. Two I lost. The rest have been upgrades.

Amazon has done an excellent job of improving each iteration. The biggest innovation was the Paperwhite -- with its side-lit screen that allowed reading in darkened room without suffering the eye fatigue caused by back-lit screens.

My first Paperwhite was stolen in 2014 in Manzanillo -- along with almost all the rest of my electronic gear. The thief made quite a haul.

When I replaced it, I did not pay close attention to the features on my new Kindle. Because I travel a lot outside of the range of internet, I need to have the ability to use the telephone 3G network to download periodicals and purchase new books.

I forgot to check the box to add that feature. So, for over two years, I have lived with limited capability. When I started having trouble with the USB connection, I decided it was time for a new reader.

As luck would have it, Amazon was offering a completely-new version. The Oasis.

The most noticeable feature is its size and weight. It weighs about half as much as a Paperwhite and the dimensions are slightly smaller and a bit more square -- even though the reading area of the screen is the same size.

Better than that, the screen has two and a half more LEDs to improve lighting consistency, and the page control buttons have returned in addition to keeping touch screen capability.

The unit with its cleverly-designed cover is so light, I have often forgotten where I put it. Usually, in my pants pocket. It took me very little time to completely adjust to its new controls.

The down side is its cost. The version I bought (with 3G and no "special offers" streaming across my screen) set me back almost $400 (US). Effectively, I lightened my wallet to shave a few ounces off of my Kindle.

When Amazon started selling the Kindle, it sold them at a loss. The company was interested in establishing a market, just as RCA Victor did with record players and butchers did with freezers. It would then make up its capital investment when customers bought books -- or records and sides of beef.

Once the electronic readers reached a saturation point, Amazon was free to develop and sell slightly-improved versions at a premium. Amazon is not alone. The smartphone market has created a new marketing paradigm. An entire group of consumers are not interested in sales or bargains. They are looking for cutting-edge technology. And Amazon has learned its lesson well.

As for me, just call me one of the suckers who enjoy owning a flashy smartphone* and, now, an even flashier Kindle.

Someone has to keep the American economy running.

* Or, since it is a Samsung Galaxy, should I say "flashing?"

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