Cowboy: interpreter, warlord, one more casualty


The remarkable Kindle

I like ebooks because they show up quickly (no waiting for the mailman!), they're generally cheaper than the print edition, they're easier to carry around (a thousand books weigh about the same as a single paperback), and they relieve the strain on my crowded bookshelves. And I can read a book on my iPhone if that's all I have with me. I've settled on Amazon's Kindle for ax variety of reasons: I've been an Amazon customer for twenty years or more, and it was the first company to open up digital publishing to independent authors like me. My ebook sales now far outrun print editions. About 85 percent of those sales come from Amazon stores in the US and elsewhere.

Kindle Fire ebook reader And the Fire is my go-to ebook reader. It's a gorgeous little tablet computer, about halfway in size between a phone and a traditional tablet. Starting at $49.99, it's also a fraction of the cost. When I'm on the road, I watch movies on it, browse the internet, send and handle email — whatever. All I need is a wi-fi router not too far away. (I load the Fire with books before I leave home, having once been marooned by Amtrak halfway between Newark and Manhattan, with nothing to read during in the two hours it too for a replacement engine to show up.) That's my Fire at left; it's a bit clunkier than the current model. I took the liberty of opening it to Flying Tigers in the new edition from Warbird Books.

The Fire is heavier than an e-ink Kindle but lighter than a full-sized tablet. If you opt for the 7-inch version with 16 gigabytes (plenty!) of storage, the price is just $49.99 with ads. (I rather enjoy the ads.) The upside is the weight: 10.4 ounces; the downside is its battery life: Amazon claims 8 hours, so you don't want to be without a USB cord. The 8-inch and 10-inch tablets weigh more, cost more, last longer, and have better resolution and sound quality.

Amazon has been selling e-ink Kindles for ten years now, with each generation getting lighter, less cumbersome, and less expensive. At the present time, the Kindle comes in four flavors: plain vanilla for $79.99, Paperwhite for $119.99, Voyage for $199.99, and Oasis for $289.99. I recently acquired the Paperwhite, which has higher resolution than my earlier Kindle, plus backlighting that makes it easy to read at night. (Sally soon got it away from me.) At 7.2 ounces, it is the heaviest of the current generation of Kindles.

The e-ink Kindles have some advantages over the Fire tablets. They're lighter, and their battery life is fabulous. (Amazon claims "weeks" of battery life for most Kindles and "months" for the top-of-the line Oasis.) And you can read in bright sunlight, where the screen of a tablet or smartphone tends to wash out. And to many people, the black-on-gray appearance more closely resembles sensation of reading a print edition. Click here for more about the Kindles.

And here's something else: You don't really need a dedicated e-reader. You can read Kindle books on your smartphone, iPad, or laptop if you download the appropriate free app . Come to think of it, that's all the Fire actually is: a small tablet computer with a Kindle app!

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