Review: Amazon Kindle for Christians
After one month and a dozen books of using my new Amazon.com Kindle, I can recommend it most enthusiastically. The Kindle is basically an electronic book reader with wireless connectivity. Using Amazon's Whispernet (powered by Sprint EVDO), the Kindle can download full text of books, subscribe to receive digital editions of periodicals or blogs, receive emailed digital texts, and browse the web. Everybody who has seen my Kindle is immediately impressed by the amazingly easy-to-read screen, called electronic paper, which displays a very high quality grayscale viewable in both lowlight and direct sunlight situations. The search function allows basic searching for terms within all of your loaded books or online. The onboard dictionary allows lookup of full definitions with etymology of most common words.
- Super easy to read screen in all lighted conditions
- Always connected to internet wherever Sprint has service; (makes up for high cost of device)
- Perfect for reading text-based webpages
- Long battery life (days when wireless is disabled)
- Easy to turn on/off; easy to enable/disable wireless (switch at back)
- Amazon or Mobipocket converter will convert HTML & Microsoft Word documents to be readable.
- PDF texts are able to be converterted but often lose formatting
- Mp3 player and Audible Audiobook player (either through speaker on back or through headphones)
- Easy to navigate with huge Next page, Previous Page, Back buttons. Very simple navigation; grandparents in their 70's have used it without problem and minimal introduction.
- QWERTY keyboard easily allows typing/notetaking easily exported to computer
- Comes with nice leather carrying case
- Easy to "clip" sections of text for export to computer
- No native pdf document support (conversion often destroys formatting)
- Easy to accidentally push the navigation buttons
- No backlight (can purchase clip on light which works well)
- Battery life only about 12 hours with internet enabled
- Web browser very limited in formatting capabilities/unable to work with complex pages
Kindle for Christians
The above comments are not unlike most of the other thousands of reviews of the Kindle. My primary concern is for Christians, especially for Christian leaders. Is it easy to read the Bible on the Kindle? Are new Christian releases available on Kindle? What about the books published in the last decades? What about older works, public domain? The following is a brief summary, I will be blogging much more extensively on this topic in the upcoming weeks and months and going into more detail.
I have downloaded and used a few translations of the Bible. They are all plagued by the same problem. The Kindle doesn't show you what chapter of a book you are on, so it is easy to get lost and difficult to check what book or chapter you are in. They all have common navigation scheme: Navigate to the books via the table of contents. Then the superiorly formatted ones (ESV, NASB, & NIV) let you click on links to navigate to the appropriate chapters (I can usually find a verse in these versions in under 15 seconds). (NET & KJV) make you click next page until you get where you are trying to go (this can take a very long on the order of minutes if the verse is later in a book) In summary, the Kindle is not very effective as a look-up-stuff Bible, but excellent in any translation to read straight through a book of the Bible or to read a long section.
Modern Christian Books
Crossway and some other publishers are releasing their books in Kindle format, downloadable in under a minute by navigating on the Kindle to the Kindle Store or by ordering online at the Kindle Store. It seems like most new books are being released digitally. However, books published in years past are only slowly making their way onto the Kindle, and most (but not all) of these are the doctrinally deprived best-seller types. I will be releasing recommended Kindle reading in the coming weeks and months. Additionally many authors release their books digitally for free and these are easily converted to Kindle format and read. Some of these authors that do this are John Piper, Frame & Poythress, and some from Sovereign Grace. Similarly Crossway often will email you a pdf of the physical books that you buy direct from their site.
The best part of reading digitally is that many of the best books available are public domain. Christian CLassics Ethereal Library, Gracegems, Spurgeon.org, Google books, and others are great to get digital texts which you can then paste into a Word document or pdf and send it to your Kindle, or you can browse some of the texts directly on the web-browser on the Kindle.
I have a very extensive digital text collection in Libronix and as I am studying, if I find something that I want to read later when I'm not at the computer screen, I have found myself pasting it into a Word Doc and emailing it to my Kindle to read later. It has made my Libronix Digital Library much more useful to me.
I have not found many commentaries for sale for use in Kindle, however, I have found myself during my study times on Libronix pasting the commentary sections that I want to read in more detail into Word and sending it to my Kindle. There are many public domain commentaries that are available online that the Kindle user can take advantage of. Overall, however, the Kindle is not a good standalone reference tool as it is very slow to navigate section to section (as discussed in the Bible section above). My opinion is that the Kindle is best used to read large sections and not flip around within a resource as is done in a reference book.
Most blogs have pretty complicated formats; Kindle does not do well with this. As far as I know, Kindle has no way to read RSS feeds; so I have not found any easy way to read blogs effectively on the Kindle. Amazon does have an option to serve blogs to your Kindle at a cost if the blog chooses to participate. This may be the future of blog reading on Kindle, but I hope that soon there will be an easy way to read simple RSS feeds on the Kindle.
Overall, I highly recommend the Kindle for all who love to read. I have loved mine and find myself using it for hours and hours almost each day.