The Kindle 2 Might Be King of the E-book Readers but It Ain’t King of the Beach

A guest post by talented author Jeremy Bates!

Okay, so there’s a lot being said about the new Kindle 2. More features, an overhaul on its body design, an unlimited number of books to download (except maybe for esoteric reference books), a lightweight frame (which is great for all of you who lug War and Peace around), improved bookmarking and highlighting systems, yadda yadda. Oh, not to mention—and this is for the single guys—if a woman like the one below sees you reading a Kindle, she will almost definitely invite you to dinner. Really.

Sounds great, yes? But have you ever taken a Kindle to the beach? I don’t recommend it.
First off, when I’m at the beach, or even poolside, I usually get wet at some point. Water and electronics don’t mix. While hanging out on an island in the Philippines, I had a few too many beers and tried to toss a friend in the pool because…well, I can’t remember the reason (those pesky beers). But I do remember him tossing me in a little later—while I was reading my Kindle. If I didn’t have Spider Man-like reflexes, the vacation would have been over—permanently—for my dead-tree-book killer (actually, if I had said reflexes, I probably wouldn’t have ended up in the pool!).

Secondly, when I’m at the beach, I usually get some sand on me. Sand and electronics don’t mix. At best, it will scratch your screen. At worst, it will get inside the device and short circuit something so that all your amazing new Kindle will be good for is a late-night beach bonfire.

Third, beaches are ripe with thieves. Why not? Where else do people go only to take off their clothes and leave their belongings unattended?? (And if you think hiding your wallet or Kindle under a sunhat while you go frolic in the ocean is a page out of the secret agent’s how-to-be-clandestine handbook, think again). On the other hand, who’s going to steal a paperback novel? The closest a paperback gets to being stolen is when you “lend” it a friend…because you’re never getting it back!

And finally, there’s been a lot of hype about the electronic paper display technology. And, yeah, it’s better than trying to navigate your smartphone outdoors, but it’s still tougher to read than real paper with sunglasses on and the equatorial sun beating down on you.

So in conclusion there are a lot of things to like about the Kindle 2, but there’s always going to be room in my suitcase for a couple paperback novels when I go on vacation.

A couple more strikes against the Kindle 2, in no particular order of awfulness:

  • No SD slot. While the Kindle can easily hold 3,500 books, what if you have 3,501 books?
  • Flight attendants will tell you to turn it off on take off and landing. You can’t explain that it’s epaper and uses no current. You just can’t. It’s like explaining evolution to fundamentalist creationists.
  • It contains a battery. Remember, the Kindle is mortal. It will die on you when you don’t have your charger.
  • It’s bottom heavy. The internal battery makes the device want to plop face down on your chest. I read it last night when I was sleepy and it kept knocking me on the forehead (pesky beers again).
  • Still no color. For now, commercial e-ink is still limited to gray scale. Amazon did bump up the technology from 4 to 16 shades of gray, which makes the photos a lot more detailed, but no amount of gray can turn a black and white face into flesh. Sigh.

About the Author

Jeremy Bates has spent the last ten years traveling the world, visiting more than thirty countries.  He has lived in Canada, the United States, Australia, Japan, South Korea, and the Philippines.  Bates is a graduate of the University of Western Ontario with a degree in English literature and philosophy.  Where’s home for Jeremy? Canada, the United States, and Australia.

His frightening debut novel, White Lies, is set in a small village in the Cascade Mountain range of eastern Washington.  In the book, he succeeds in bringing world class terror to this tranquil community.

Find him online at http://jeremybatesbooks.blogspot.com/