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Geek Gadget Friday: Amazon Kindle and The Apple Store

April 24, 2009

I must preface this by letting you know that I am in no way a “Gadget Geek”.  I know many of my geek brethren are, but not me.  If you want to talk power tools or musical instruments, then I am there, but I’m just not that into gadgets for the sake of gadgets.  However, I do appreciate a good tool: if it happens to be in gadget form, then so be it!

The Amazon Kindle

I’ve been wanting an Amazon Kindle for some time now, ever since I saw one my Dad was borrowing from a friend at Christmas this year.  If you have yet to experience the magic of electronic paper, ubiquitous book shopping with instant downloads, then you don’t know what you are missing.  I have an entire library at my fingertips – or rather I will as I buy more books.  I bought it to replace my huge collection of tech books, you know, the ones that form the leaning tower of Pisa on my desk?  I always have at least half a dozen of them sprawled out, most of them open to the last page I was on or turned upside down marking the last problem I was trying to solve.

The Kindle is an amazing piece of technology.  It does not look or feel like a computer, which is good because it doesn’t really act like one either.  Follow the link above to get the juicy details, but here are the highlights.  Ubiquitous connection to the Kindle Store.  Sure, Amazon wants you to buy stuff, so it is easy to be cynical about this, but don’t: this is the best feature by far.  You can shop for a book directly from the reader, buy it in a one-click process (meaning no entering CC information), and have it downloaded to your Kindle in about a minute.  You can subscribe to Blogs and newspapers and they will be delivered to your device automatically.  You can store up to 1,500 books on your device at once.  You can read it in direct sunlight, but not in the dark since there is no backlight.  You can read it from almost a 90 degree angle.  It is very easy on the eyes and comfortable to read.  I have already found that I read faster on the Kindle.

Over the years, my comapny has spent thousands on technical books.  Yes,of course I use the Internet, but there is still nothing so rewarding as a book.  The great thing for my company is that the Kindle versions of the books are less expensive.  Add in the facts that there is no shipping cost and no wait time, and I was easily able to justify the expense.  I can find a book I need and be using it to solve a problem in minutes.  If you consume books like I do, then you owe it to yourself to check out the Kindle.

The Apple Store

I’m in my hotel room in Richmond for this weekend’s Richmond Code Camp.  I live a couple of hours away, so I took the opportunity to stop by the Apple Store.  Now, before I go any further, let me say that I am NOT an Apple guy.  I do not own or use iMac, iPOD, iPhone, iTV, iDishwasher, or any of the other i’s out there (except the “IBM System i”, but that is another story for another time.)  My 15 year old daughter, on the other hand, as well as my Dad, are iPOD users.  Unfortunately, hers quit working a while ago, so I took it into the store since I was in the neighborhood.  I was absolutely shocked at the experience.

I had in mind a pristine temple full of nerdy young 20 somethings where I would immediately be found out and scoffed at as “a PC guy”.  (I almost wore my Visual Studio 2008 shirt today: that could have been interesting.)  And, frankly, I expected to be condescended to by a kid who was still in grade school when I began programming.  I have to be utterly fair and say that instead, I found a pristine temple full of nerdy young 20 somethings where I was immediately be found out as “a PC guy”. However, I was *not* scoffed at, and I was not alone.  No one could feel alone in this store: there were probably a dozen associates, and every one of them was busy with a customer.  It was 2pm on a Friday in a near empty mall and the place was packed.

I definitely felt out of place: I wasn’t the oldest one in the store, but I was the most uncool.  The people there, customers and associates alike, oozed coolness.  Snoopy would have been proud.  There were a lot of … alternative … dress style.  Many piercings and tattoos, and at least one spiked mohawk – on an associate.  And I must say, I had a great experience.  The associates really knew their stuff and the store layout was excellent.  There were no cash registers: the checkout people were using handheld devices, servicing customers whereever they happen to be.  Folks, if you haven’t experienced this, you must check it out.  Apple got this right: PC retailers need to be paying attention.

And one more Apple note: I never quite got the fuss about the iPhone until I played with one today.  Great, another gadget to covet. My plan with Verizon is up in October…

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  1. April 26, 2009 at 11:20 am

    How do the prices of books on the Kindle compare to print versions of the book?

    • April 28, 2009 at 9:27 am

      Hi Kevin,

      I looked up the last book I bought, Windows Presentation Foundation Unleashed (WPF). The print version is $31.49 + shipping. The Kindle version was $28.34, no shipping, delivered to my device in less than a minute. The difference in technical books is not a lot, but it is less expensive for Kindle.

      More interesting are “Best Seller” type books. Most of these sell on Amazon for around $25, but the Kindle price is always $9.99! Factor in shipping and you could save about 2/3rds over the print version.

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