The Christian Theologically-Inclined Reader and Kindle 2 (aka Kindle Review)

I saved up for my Kindle for a good while, and I was very excited to receive it! I have not been disappointed. Here are a few of the major benefits:

  1. The Kindle has made available to me texts that hitherto had been locked onto my computer. It’s just not convenient to take my laptop to bed with me—or to church, or to the Bi-Lo parking lot, or to a boring meeting. But now the articles and book chapters and whole books that lay dormant on my hard drive are getting read.
  2. The Kindle has also made classic public domain texts available to me. It’s easy and free to put any text from Project Gutenberg on the Kindle.
  3. The Kindle screen really is easier on the eyes than an LCD. While the Kindle’s contrast isn’t quite like paper—unless you’re in direct sunlight, in which case it looks great—it isn’t shining light at me and annoying my eyes. I’ve found that most people assume Kindle still has an LCD screen. They’re intrigued when I explain the difference of E-Ink technology.
  4. I love the fact that any text I highlight is copied automatically into a central text file, MyClippings.txt. That fits my reading and note-taking style perfectly.
  5. I have a dictionary and a free wireless connection to Wikipedia on a mobile device.
  6. I have a free wireless connection to any Internet site that displays well on the Kindle, helpful in a pinch for checking maps or looking up some other time-sensitive information.
  7. Text-to-speech is a pretty neat way of getting some “reading” done when my eyes are otherwise occupied. If I’m reading along in the early morning and then need to stop to get ready for the day, I can plug the Kindle into my bathroom speaker (neatly tucked away where guests can’t see it!) and listen to a few pages while I’m shaving.
  8. I enjoy getting free sample chapters from any book in the Kindle store. Just now I’ve been reading Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln.
  9. My wife likes it!

I do have a few suggestions for improvements—improvements which a firmware update and other software fixes could easily solve.

  1. I wish Amazon’s print prices were made clear in the Kindle store. The Reason for God is $15.70 in analog form and $14.13 in digital. Preach the Word: Essays in Honor of R. Kent Hughes is $14.96 vs. $7.99. I’d like to know that from within the Kindle store to make a more informed purchase. So far I haven’t purchased any electronic books for the Kindle; I haven’t been able to decide to jump on that wagon. I want my family and future students to browse my shelves, and I want to be able to lend books out and even leave them to my kids when I leave this world. I’m still thinking. But saving eight bucks on a book I want is a good way to persuade me to go Kindle!
  2. I read theological scholarship, so Unicode for Greek and Hebrew is a must. I’m told the Kindle doesn’t have it, but I haven’t confirmed this, I confess!
  3. I was one of the first to download the free English Standard Version Bible offered by Crossway, and the Kindle would be well served to include ways to navigate Bibles more quickly. I’m uncertain why I can’t simply type in a reference and have the Kindle go there.
  4. As I add books and articles to my collection, it is going to become more important that I be able to organize my Kindle documents into folders. That functionality is not available.
  5. The Kindle would be more valuable to me if it came with e-book organizing and converting software. Calibre is fine, but I’m pretty computer savvy and I confess I do not find it easy to use. Amazon could make even more money by producing the e-book reader freeware and tying it into their Kindle store. Then anyone with a computer could buy their e-books.
  6. I love the screensavers that come up—pictures of authors and book-related stuff. But I confess I’d rather be able to pick up my Kindle, begin reading right where I last was, and simultaneously turn the unit back on. At least I’d like to have the option. (Note: I recently downloaded a small hack that let me use my own pictures for the Kindle screensavers, and I scored a few points with my lovely wife!)
  7. I wish I could get to the top of each menu from the bottom by simply clicking down. That is, that the cursor would cycle continually through the list if you held it down, rather than stopping at either end.

Author: Mark Ward

PhD in NT; theological writer for Faithlife; former high school Bible textbook author for BJU Press; husband; father; ultimate frisbee player; member of the body of Christ.

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