How difficult is a Kindle (eBook) to use?

My GF has a 92 year old dad who is a former English professor. Probably goes without saying words are his life but unfortunately age has made it difficult for him to read at all.

So I suggested the Kindlefrom Amazon. It seems that it could help as I read it can display up to a 20 point font size.

However, my GF described her dad as a complete technophobe. Pushing buttons is just something he will not do well or willingly. I suggested perhaps something like the Kindle might prompt him to learn enough to use it in order to regain one of his primary loves in life. Her sister (who is easily savvy enough to work the thing) could help him on occasion to download new books or what have you so some of the fiddly bits he need not worry about.

In the end though just how simple is it to use? Please answer from the mindset of a person for whom a cell phone is too much trouble to work.

I gave my husband a kindle last year for the holidays. It is the best thing since sliced bread! He is not particularly savvy when it comes to operating electronics, and I was a little hesitant to give it to him. I’ve given him a gps, palm, hand-held computers to no avail. To my surprise, he immediately figured out the kindle. It has saved us a small fortune in book costs. He was going through 2-3 best sellers a week, then he gave them away since we had no place to store them. The new issue of Entertainment Weekly has an article on the kindle. Another option you might think about is several years ago when my father went blind, he was able to get audio books for free from the library of congress. I would imagine they still have a program like that.

I’d rate it at about the same difficulty level as a simple cell phone.

Reading a book is dead easy - there’s a back and a forward button, very simple & easy to use.

The trouble comes in when he gets to the end of a book and has to go back to the table of contents. The Kindle has a little scroll wheel kinda thing which works fine, but is not the greatest UI.

I’d say if there’s someone around who will download books for him and “start” them - ie, get him to the first page, the rest should be easy enough. However, he might get in trouble if he starts pressing buttons randomly. On the other hand, if he likes it enough to use it, maybe he will start learning more.

Thanks for the replies.

I have heard a Kindle 2.0 version is due. Having trouble finding info on it though. I saw it suggested somewhere that it is due for release this month but I cannot tell if that is wishful thinking or based on reality.

Anyone know the scoop on this? Amazon says the new version will be what they had really wanted all along. Apparently some UI tweaks and other stuff. Perhaps adding in more multimedia functionality (play MP3s and such I guess). Certainly her dad will not give a hoot about any of that but the UI tweaks sound good.

Also, the price seems staggeringly high for what it is. I have an iPhone which does FAR more and is cheaper. Is the thing really worth its cost? For her dad it might be since it is about the only way he will be able to read so there is that but in general, and I say this as a gadget geek, I am rather floored at its cost.

We all presume the Kindle 2.0 will be out for Christmas. I suppose at this point you ought to wait for the new one to buy it.

The Kindle is dead easy to operate. The newspapers come in every night automatically. Very addictive, I tell you.

Kindle 1.0 is (was?) too fragile for my lifestyle. I am now on my third (two free replacements). But as long as granddad doesn’t play handball with it, I suppose it will do OK by him.

Be warned - the automatic thing only works if you’re in an area with Sprint Whispernet service. It’s pretty much only available in major metropolitan areas, so you might want to check on that first.

If it’s not available, you can always download to the Kindle via USB cable. That’s how I do it, and it works pretty well.

I agree with this. The Kindle is the third ebook I’ve had over the years (recently got the Sony Reader too, which my wife is using) and it is by far the very best of them all. It has many many features that he may not want to bother with (such as the dictionary to look up words in the book he’s reading, annotating, bookmarks, etc) that he may find too difficult to use, but they can just be ignored.

Also, there are six sizes of type, the largest being 20 point, which is wonderful for people with vision problems. Remember, however, it is not a backlighted screen, but a new technology called eInk. It looks very much like a paper page, but it does require good lighting. The brighter the better, and can even be read in direct sunlight without being washed out. There are many little book lights which can be clipped on the cover to read in darker areas.

As to the cover, it is a sore point with many, as it does not always hold the book firmly in place, and it might drop out. There are several other covers that are good, but I, like many, just bought a little packet of Velcro with sticky part on the back, and stuck it on the lower right side of the case and device. it has never ever fallen out since.

So, he may or may not be able to cope with other things, but as Athena says, if somebody can help him with these, I’ll bet he’ll love it.

And, most important for you, is Amazon has an excellent 30-day return policy. If he can’t master the book, any time within the 30 days you can send it back for a full refund, no questions asked.

Just did a google search on it since I’m finding this topic interesting.

I found this on BusinessWeek online. I don’t know how credible the article is, so you’ll have to judge that for yourself. This author believes that the new version will be released in October (originally scheduled for Sept.)

From that article: (talking about the 2.0 version)

Two pieces of advice:

Always turn it off when you are going to stop reading for more than a couple of minutes, or if you are going to carry it anywhere at all.

Second is to always read it while it’s in the cover. I agree with the velcro idea (I carefully cut off the two little pockets and pulled off the clip, and replaced all that with four dots of extra strength velcro). You have to hold it by the cover to avoid hitting one of the buttons accidentally, because the buttons cover 90% of the available hanging-on space without the cover in place.

And beware of the Back button. If he is easily stressed out by technology, the Back button will confuse the heck out of him.

I guess that’s three pieces. I love my Kindle, and you can get scads of classic literature (out of copyright) for very very cheap (such as under a dollar for a collection of Trollope novels, as an example). If this is of interest to you, in the Kindle store select Literary Fiction and sort by cost from lower to higher.

My biggest complaint is with shopping in the Kindle store. If you know what you want (author, title, etc.) it is easy to find. If you want to browse in a category, though, it’s very clumsy. There are so many titles, and many repeats of the same title, that browsing is very frustrating. I would much rather they make improvements to this, rather than putting out another version of the Kindle that I can’t afford to buy anyway.

I’m just depressed none of this stuff is available in Australia. :frowning:

I never turn it off. It seems like it holds it’s charge foooorrrreeevvveer. Of course, I do have the Whispernet turned off (there’s a switch for that right next to the power switch) and that probably makes a difference.

And I threw away that damn cover. It’s a piece of crap and annoying.

I’m with you on the back button though. That thing is dangerous!

I see no reason at all to turn it off, as even if you don’t do anything, it will go into “screensaver” mode after a few minutes by itself, and use no power at all. Also, when finished reading, you can just hit the ALT and font keys to put it to sleep too, with the screensaver. You waken it the same way. As noted, always turn off the Whispernet wireless switch when not needed, as that does indeed use up power quickly.

I really read a lot every day, and still only have to recharge about every 7-8 days, which is pretty good.

One other thing that might be helpful for him, is that you can download up to 200 books at one time in the regular memory, and more if you use a SD card. Thus, if he needs help buying, you can get him a large number of books, and only get more when he has read through those.

You should really try it for him, remembering the 30-day guarantee. Let us know what happens.

Martini Enfield, I feel your pain, it is very unfortunate that Amazon still only sells it for the US. I would have thought by now they might have spread the joy, but some have suggested this is caused by the difficulty with publishers in other countries.

I’ve heard that too, but I haven’t heard a convincing explanation as to why someone overseas buying one couldn’t just download books etc from the Amazon US website instead of their local one.

That, of course, starts a related question of where there isn’t an yet either, but that’s probably a topic for another thread…

Here’s the reason I turn it off rather than relying on screensaver mode: it’s faster and easier; plus if I carry it anywhere without doing one or the other I invariably find that I have unwittingly hit one or more buttons and gotten so far from my place in the text that it’s a big fumble to get back to where I was.

I know they say that screensaver mode doesn’t use any power, but I have found that not to be the case. The battery does run down (albeit slowly) on screensaver, which it doesn’t do when turned off.

I can’t confirm this, but I’ve been told that they check the billing address for the credit card. Not in the US? No sale.

I’ve heard that too, which is why I haven’t tried to buy one.

What I was asking was why they care- ie, I thought they’d be saying “Look, if you buy this thing, the only place you can get books is from Amazon US, and you wont be able to get newspaper subscriptions or anything unless you want US ones”.

I don’t see what Publishers in Australia have to do with e-Books from America, though. I’d be parallel importing to obtain a product thats not available here, which is really the Australian publisher’s problem for not making it available, not Amazon’s.

I use mine overseas, but then again I maintain a US mailing address for this sort of thing.

I’m not sure, but it might be in the deals they make with the publishers that “You can only sell to American customers, because we can’t be bothered going to all of our international associates/distributors and making sure that they’re cool with the whole deal. If they start losing market and think it’s because you’re sending digital books to Kindles, they’re going to complain back to us…” sort of thing.

Yes, fundamentally the distributors don’t have an exclusive right to sell those books in their countries - foreign customers can order print books directly from and so on, but Kindle probably makes everybody more nervous because it’s all digital and new-media-ish. :wink:

What a coincidence–I was thinking of buying a Kindle for an upcoming trip to Australia. The trip will involve six full days of flying and it will be a pain to lug around enough reading material for that much down time.

Maybe I could recoup my purchase by selling it on the black market! :smiley:

Seriously, though, I don’t think I’m going to buy yet–it’s still a little too expensive, and later iterations will no doubt be better and cheaper. Besides, I need the exercise of lugging books around.