Note: This is a review of Enough, the new book by Patrick Rhone. It’s available today from First Today Press.

I’ve been fascinated with minimalism for several years now, and it’s a concept that I strive to implement in many areas of my life. Minimalism is one of the precepts of Quarter-Life Enlightenment, and even when I don’t explicitly say so, its values influence much of my writing here.

One of the goals of minimalism is to “omit needless things”, which causes many people to withdraw in apprehension.

“Why would I want to live with less things?”

“Why would I want to own only two pairs of shoes?!”

“Why would I want a small house?”

Our society has instilled within us a belief that “bigger is better”, that more is a sign of success, and that a person’s worth is determined by the grandeur of his possessions.

Of course, this is not necessarily true, and minimalism — when properly understood — isn’t a source of fear or ridicule. It’s a source of freedom.

The goal of minimalism is not to eliminate everything; it’s to eliminate needless things.

The notion that a minimalist should be able to fit all of his possessions into a backpack is overwrought. It’s not about living with nothing; it’s about making sure every thing counts. It’s not even about living with less; it’s about living with enough.

Patrick Rhone seeks to guide us to this sacred middle ground in his newest book, Enough. It’s absolutely wonderful.

On the surface, Enough is a series of short essays written in straightforward, thoughtful prose. But, each entry contains a wealth of wisdom that will challenge and inspire you. Patrick crafts a beautiful thread using the theme of Enough and weaves it through this memorable writing collection. With topics ranging from the practical to the metaphysical, Patrick’s friendly, mindful tone makes for charming company.

Rest assured, Enough is not the work of an evangelical minimalist. Patrick makes no demands of his readers. He simply offers an alternative perspective, revealing a way — to live, to think, to act — that you might not have known existed.

I read Enough in one sitting, including frequent breaks to highlight and take notes on my Kindle. These essays are decorated with pearls of wisdom, and I felt like I was bookmarking something on every page. Enough is short enough to read in an afternoon, but the ideas presented here will have you thinking for many hours afterward. I may decide to read just one essay a day on my second time through. While the length of Enough can be learned from a page number, the book’s depth is best realized with a comfortable chair, an open mind, and a few hours of solitude. It will comfort, inspire, and enlighten you.

Enough is a book I truly recommend. It speaks to me, my values, and those I seek to express here on QLE. I found myself nodding more and more with each essay, wishing I’d written it myself. My favorite is “Letters Left Unsent”, which you can read along with so much more starting right now.

Buy the book in paperback, ePub, and/or Kindle versions.

Read more from Patrick in his first book, Keeping It Straight, and on his excellent weblog, Minimal Mac.

Favorite Apps: Clear for iPhone

If you've been on the Internet this week, you've more than likely heard the buzz surrounding Clear, the new to-do list app from Realmac Software. I'd been looking forward to Clear ever since seeing the video, and the app saw its much anticipated release late Tuesday night.

It's wondrous.

Clear is, quite simply, an app for making lists. But oh, never before has making lists been so much fun.

Most iOS apps operate from left to right. That is, when you tap something, you feel like you're moving to the right to go to the next screen. The more you tap, the "deeper" or further to the right you go. Tweetbot is a good example of this concept.

Clear takes the opposite approach, featuring a vertical structure comprised of three levels. The topmost level is the Menu, where you can access your lists, themes, and settings. The middle level is your Lists, and the bottom level consists of your List's Items. It's kind of like Inception.

Navigating the app is done entirely using gestures. There are no traditional buttons like "Back", "Next", or "Done". The app is completely fullscreen; even the menu bar is hidden. Your iPhone becomes the Clear app, and it's lovely.

Swiping down creates a new list in List view or a new item in Item view. Pull down a little further to move up a level. Tap and hold on a list or item to move it up or down. Swiping to the right completes items, swiping to the left deletes them. Swiping up moves you down a level or clears all completed items when in Item view. You can also use two fingers to "stretch" and create a new list or item, and pinch to move up a level. There are other gestures and tricks, but they're best experienced by using the app.

The whole app feels very fast. Navigating is smooth and crisp, and it's easy to enter many items into a list. I populated a list of over thirty items in a couple of minutes. You're really only limited by how fast your thumbs can type. The interface and gestures are Clear's standout features; it's really a joy to use.

Despite being a simple app, Clear still has a ton of personality. This is achieved primarily through color and sound.

Clear comes with five different themes, and list items are arranged using color to indicate priority. "Heat Map" is the app's default theme. Your most important items are at the top in a strong, vibrant red, while items in the middle gradually fade to orange, and then to yellow towards the bottom. It's very pretty.

In a brilliant move, Clear has also included several bonus themes, which can be unlocked by... doing things I cannot reveal. It's the funnest to-do list app around.

Sound is also a huge part of Clear. The sound effects are wonderfully musical and add a great dimension to the app. You can turn the sounds off and/or use vibration instead, but it's much better with them on.

Whether or not you're a list aficionado, it's worth checking out Clear just for the revolutionary interface. It's beautifully designed in every way, and it's a great example of what iOS is capable of.

It only took a few minutes for Clear to earn a spot on my home screen. It's simple, fun, innovative, and useful. Clear is a sensory productivity experience; it's an app that appeals to your fingers, eyes, and ears while helping you get things done.

You can buy Clear for $0.99 on the App Store.

If you enjoyed or benefitted from this article, please consider sharing it with the button below! Also, you should follow me on Twitter.

Your Life Needs More Bass

Note: This is a review of the BassJump subwoofer for MacBook by TwelveSouth.

As a bass player, I understand the importance of low frequencies vibrations. Bass is what unites the rhythm of the drums and the melodies of the guitar and piano. It’s the cornerstone of the groove, and groove is what makes you move, whether it’s tapping a foot, bobbing your head, or rocking out on the dance floor.

And yet, bass is the humblest of instruments. It’s a supportive role, designed to give the soloist and the rest of the band a strong foundation to build upon. You can lean on a good rhythm section. In fact, all the other instruments can drop out, but as long as the drums and bass are still grooving, the song doesn’t stop, and people don’t stop dancing.

You don’t realize the importance of bass until it’s not there anymore. If you’ve ever been in a club with loud music, you’ve seen how they kick people out when it’s closing time: they cut off the speakers and the subwoofers. If there aren’t any vibrations moving you, you can’t dance.

Which brings me to the awesomeness of the TwelveSouth BassJump 2 Subwoofer. I absolutely love this product.

The BassJump is a small USB-powered subwoofer designed to give your MacBook a much-needed boost in the bottom end. It’s beautifully designed, and it looks great next to your Mac.

Laptop speakers aren’t great. Everyone’s been in a situation where they want to crank up the music, only to be forced to endure the thin sound of a laptop at full volume. The BassJump solves this problem by acting as a subwoofer for your computer, so the laptop speakers themselves can function as tweeters. This setup essentially creates a 2.1 stereo system.

The BassJump comes with its own software, so you can tweak the volume and crossover frequency. Installation is a snap, and since it’s USB-powered, you only need one cable. No batteries required. Plug in and rock out, as it were.

The difference in sound is phenomenal. You don’t just get an increase in volume, you get a dramatic increase in quality. It’s a much fuller, richer sound overall. The BassJump is capable of shaking my entire desk. It lets me feel my music while I’m at my computer. Turn it off, and you immediately notice that missing low end. Everyone I’ve shown the BassJump to can’t believe how much better music sounds with it.

At $69.99, you can’t buy a better upgrade for your MacBook. If you love to listen to music on your computer, and especially if you like to turn it up loud, you won’t be disappointed with the BassJump. You’ll wonder how you ever listened without it.

You can buy the BassJump 2 Subwoofer at TwelveSouth.

If you enjoyed or benefitted from this article, please consider sharing it with the button below! Also, you should follow me on Twitter.

Tweetbot vs. Twitterrific

Yesterday may forever be known as the Day of Tweetbot.

Not only did Tapbots release version 2.0 of Tweetbot for iPhone, they also unleashed Tweetbot for iPad, both of which were met with much fanfare on the interwebs.

Lots has already been written about Tweetbot (see Federico Viticci’s reviews of Tweetbot 2.0 and Tweetbot for iPad, in particular), and the majority of reviews are overwhelmingly positive. Personally, I’ve always been a diehard Twitterrific fan across all of my devices. However, Tweetbot has recently managed to supplant Twitterrific’s position on my home screen. Here’s why.

A Few Words About Twitterrific

First of all, I love Twitterrific. Anybody would do well to use it as their main Twitter client, but there are two features that I would use to determine whether Twitterrific is right for someone. The first is simplicity. If you enjoy a minimalist, yet capable, design, you’ll probably find Twitterrific to be a wonderful experience.

The second feature is less an issue of aesthetics and more an issue of function, and that’s the unified timeline. All tweets, mentions, and direct messages show up in Twitterrific’s main timeline. This is great if you: A) read every tweet, or B) don’t follow many people.

One usually informs the other. If you follow hundreds of people, you probably don’t read every tweet and are content to just jump in and read whatever’s going on in your timeline at the moment. If you follow a smaller number of people, you might like to read all of the tweets since the last time you checked Twitter.

Users in the former category will probably dislike Twitterrific’s unified timeline because the lack of a dedicated Mentions tab makes it easier for them to miss replies and mentions. On the other hand, if you read every tweet anyway, you’ll see your mentions as you scroll through your timeline, and you probably won’t miss having a separate Mentions tab.

I’m obligated here to mention something about gap handling. Gaps are what happens when you don’t check Twitter for several hours, and you missed more tweets than your client is capable of loading at one time. Most apps offer some sort of “Load More” option when this happens, at which point you have two options: skip the old, unloaded tweets, or tap to load them manually.

I don’t know the specific technical requirements that go into making an efficient “Load More Tweets” mechanism, but I will say that Tweetbot handles gaps consistently better than Twitterrific. Again, how many people you follow and how you read Twitter will determine whether this is a selling point for you.

In any case, do note that Twitterrific does have a Mentions-only view, it’s just two taps away. From your main timeline, you need to tap your username in the upper left-hand corner to get to your account screen. From here, you can choose to view All Tweets, Mentions, Messages, Favorites, Lists, or search Twitter. So it is there, but it’s out of the way due to the minimalist, clutter-free design.

Behold the Power of Tweetbot

One phrase that’s often heard in association with Tweetbot is “Power User”, and I will agree that those are the people who are going to prefer Tweetbot the most. That’s not to say casual users won’t like it, but Tweetbot’s abundant features will speak to those who use Twitter as a tool, rather than as a diversion.

The most prominent feature of Tweetbot is the unmistakable Tapbots style. Tapbots’ apps have a particular look to them, and if that look doesn’t agree with you, you might as well stop reading now. The interface doesn’t quite match Twitterrific in simplicity, but it’s just as clean and pretty to look at. The bottom toolbar has tabs for Tweets, Mentions, and Direct Messages, and you can customize the last two tabs by assigning things like Profile, Favorites, or Retweets, depending on which features you use most. The app scrolls very smoothly in a way that’s hard to describe. Tapping a tweet reveals the tweet drawer, which contains Reply, Retweet, Favorite, Options, and Detailed View buttons. Tapping and holding on avatars and links brings up a variety of options, like muting or sending to Instapaper.

New to Tweetbot are inline photos, which show you a thumbnail view within the tweet itself, and a New Tweets bar that shows you how many tweets you have left to read. Other new features and tweaks are too numerous to mention, but all are for the better. Despite being a day old, the iPad version is just as functional, and of course you can sync timeline position with the iPhone version via Tweet Marker. Tweetbot is one app where exploring the Settings menu is an absolute must, as there are many customizable options to be found.

Why I Switched from Twitterrific to Tweetbot

Again, Twitterrific is great, and for most users it should be a lovely fit. But, Tweetbot contains features that I — as a guy who writes a thousand words about Twitter apps — need and want.

The first is List Management. Tweetbot allows you to create and edit lists, while Twitterrific only lets you view them. If you don’t use lists, it’s not a problem, but I keep lists for apps, services, and people I don’t need on my main timeline, but still like to check in with once in a while, like bands or tech writers.

Second is the ability to mute people for specific periods of time. I was getting ready to go see one of my favorite bands in New York City a few weeks ago, and I didn’t want to see the previous night’s setlist, which the band tweets during each show. I could have unfollowed the band for a day and then refollowed them, but that would have been a pain. Instead, Tweetbot allowed me mute their account for twenty-four hours, so I never saw the setlist. After, their tweets reappeared in my timeline. No need to remember to follow them again. You can mute someone for a day, a week, a month, or forever. Handier than you might think.

Then there are other features like Favstar integration, Retweet views, and a Mobilizer switch for the in-app browser. You can tell Tweetbot to “sleep” and not bother you during certain hours of the day. I can’t possibly go into every little feature, so suffice it to say I’ve yet to find a need Tweetbot cannot fulfill for me. This is an app that was lovingly crafted by a company with an astounding attention to detail.

The choice between these two apps comes down to simplicity versus power. Both are beautiful, well-designed apps, so ask yourself if you need Twitter to have less or more features. While I love Twitterrific and will continue to keep an eye on its future updates, as well as recommend it to others, Tweetbot is now my default Twitter client for iPhone and iPad. Its beautiful design and rich features make it fun to use and a powerful asset on my home screen.

You can buy Twitterrific, Tweetbot 2.0 for iPhone and Tweetbot for iPad on the App Store.

If you enjoyed or benefitted from this article, please consider sharing it with the button below! Also, you should follow me on Twitter.

Review: The 2011 $79 Kindle

Note: This is my first product review. Please pardon the shoddy photography.

About a week ago, I was in need of a distraction, so I bought one of the new $79 Kindles. I’d been thinking about making this purchase for quite a while and finally decided to pull the trigger.

It’s delightful.


The Kindle arrived two days after I ordered it, thanks to Amazon Prime’s free shipping. The packaging was neat, tidy, and product-specific. When you open the box’s lid, you find the Kindle cheerfully nestled there, accompanied only by a USB cord and a “Getting to Know Your Kindle” index card, which labels the device’s buttons and ports.

My first reaction was surprise at how small the Kindle was, probably because I’m so used to the iPad 2. The Kindle is 6.5” x 4.5” and only 0.34” thick, according to Amazon, and it only weighs 5.98 ounces compared to the iPad 2’s 1.33 pounds. It’s very light. More on iPad vs. Kindle in a little while.

After plugging it into my computer, the Kindle powered up quickly. Although it didn’t ship with a full charge, the battery reached capacity in less than an hour. Amazon says it only takes three hours for a full charge. I haven’t owned the Kindle long enough to be able to speak to its battery life, but I have no trouble believing Amazon’s claims. I don’t think I’ll need to charge it for at least a couple of weeks.

“Andrew’s Kindle” automatically appeared in the menu bar, as the device is pre-registered to whomever’s Amazon account made the purchase. (You can change the registration information in the settings if need be.) After selecting my home wi-fi network, all of my Kindle books appeared in a few seconds with virtually no action on my part. It’s great that you don’t have to log yourself into your Amazon account on the device, which would be a pain using the onscreen keyboard and 5-way controller. It feels like Amazon said, “This is Andrew Marvin’s Kindle” when they put it in the box.

I assume Amazon has gotten really good at shipping people Kindles, and it shows. The unboxing and setup process was painless, and I was ready to read within minutes.


The $79 Kindle has a six-inch e-ink display. It has “Next Page” and “Previous Page” buttons on both sides, the former being about twice as big as the latter. Below the screen are, from left to right, a Back button, a Keyboard button, the 5-way directional controller with a Select button in the center, a Menu button, and a Home button. A USB port and Power button can be found on the bottom edge.

The Kindle’s case is a pleasant silver color, and it’s made of plastic. The back has a slightly grippy feel to it, and I wouldn’t describe the Kindle as a “slippery” device. The combination of plastic and the device’s minimal weight do make it feel somewhat fragile, and I found myself cradling it as I would any new electronic device. Marco Arment, in his review, said, “Nearly everything about the $79 Kindle is cheap.”, and while I tend to agree, I don’t consider it a negative sentiment. That is, I didn’t regret my purchase upon taking the Kindle out of the box, nor did I think, “What a piece of junk…” The Kindle doesn’t need to do much except feel good in your hand and provide an enjoyable reading experience, which it does.

This is my first Kindle, so I can’t compare it to previous models, but I found the tactile response of the Next and Previous Page buttons to be perfectly adequate. You press the buttons down — as in away from you — rather than in toward the screen, which took a few pages to get used to. The buttons on the bottom aren’t amazing, but they don’t really need to be. They click when you press them, so I have no difficulty determining whether or not I successfully hit one. Because they’re centered below the screen, it does take some finesse to use them with one hand; my right thumb has to reach pretty far to hit the Back button. My thumb also cramped up slightly the first time I used the 5-way controller to add my name, phone number, and email to my device’s Personal Info. The Kindle is about twice as wide as the iPhone 4, so it’s not as easy to operate the buttons one-handed. Justin Blanton noted in his review that the Kindle 3’s controller was in the bottom right corner, which would have been nice, but oh well. Fortunately, the Page buttons are a piece of cake to use, which is what really matters since they receive the most presses. When you’re reading, which comprises 95% of your Kindle time, using it one handed is no problem. I also like that the Next Page button is larger than the Previous Page button, which obviously gets used less. I usually switch to two hands when not reading, i.e. navigating menus and the like.

The top of the device just says “kindle”, and it’s nice that the Amazon logo isn’t in your face. (It’s on the back, centered at the bottom where the word “iPhone” would go.) The frame/bezel is maybe half as thin as the iPad’s. I don’t know if I have small thumbs, but there’s just enough room for my thumb to rest and have easy access to the Next Page button without obstructing the screen.

Notably, the Kindle doesn’t ship with a power adapter. It charges via the USB cord that connects to your computer. I thought about buying the sold-separately power adapter, but I felt that, given the Kindle’s charge cycle and battery life, so little time would be spent charging that it wasn’t even worth the $10 on sale.

Similarly, I didn’t feel the need to buy a case either. I don’t want to add weight or bulk to the Kindle, and I consider the zone between my bed and nightstand to be pretty safe. Cases on Amazon range from $30 to $50, and the Kindle itself was only $79. No thanks.

The Kindle is light; my hand doesn’t get tired after holding it for a while, unlike the iPad. I wish the Power button was in the top right corner, since I’m used to putting my iDevices to sleep that way, but it’s no matter. I don’t have much else to say about the hardware. I like it, and I haven’t found any glaring annoyances. Screen/display discussion can be found below.


The $79 Kindle is ad-supported. (Amazon calls them “Special Offers”.) It’s available without ads for $109. The ads show up when the Kindle is asleep and at the bottom of the Home screen. No ads are displayed while reading, and you can remove them by paying $30 after the fact on your Kindle Management page at Amazon.com. You can also supposedly change the types of ads you see, but I haven’t noticed any difference so far. At some point, I’ll probably pay to remove the ads, but their unobtrusiveness is sufficient enough for me to put off doing so.

The Kindle’s Menu button reveals options to turn off wireless connectivity, shop in the Kindle store, view archived items, search, create a new collection (folder), sync, access settings, view special offers, and configure the screen orientation. There’s also an option labeled “Experimental”, which — obviously — launches the Kindle’s makeshift web browser. Doing so brings up a list of generic bookmarks to Amazon.com, Wikipedia, Google, Gmail, Yahoo, Facebook, Twitter, etc., but that’s about as far as I bothered to go with it. Because typing is so slow, I can’t imagine ever using the browser. It’s there in a pinch, I guess.

Speaking of typing: using the onscreen keyboard is painful. The non-touch Kindles still require the 5-way controller to select each letter, and the keyboard has an alphabetical layout, not QWERTY. Again, since the controller is centered below the screen, I had to hold the device in my left hand and operate it with my right. But, since the most you’ll probably do is type out the title of a book in the Kindle store, it’s not that big of a deal.

Shopping in the Kindle store is a pretty decent experience. You can browse books, newspapers, magazines, blogs, and Kindle Singles, which are essays and other short-form writing. I bought Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson simply by going to the Top Sellers page. Selecting a title brings up detailed information about the book, similar to what you’d see on Amazon’s website. Clicking the Buy button sends the book to your device immediately and charges your on-file billing information at Amazon. It’s very simple and should facilitate quite a few impulse buys.

Amazon says turning off wireless increases the battery life from weeks to months. I would turn it off since I only use it for a minute or two when buying a book, but I’m going to leave it on for a while because I want my Kindle to sync with the Kindle apps on my iPhone and iPad. Perhaps I’ll turn it off in the future.

Amazon recently released version 4.0.1 of the Kindle software, which adds the option of configuring the device’s Page Refresh setting. This Kindle model refreshes (blinks) on every sixth page, but as Marco pointed out, it causes the text to degrade slightly after several pages. I turned Page Refresh on so that it blinks with every page and keeps the text looking sharp. The blink itself only takes a second, and you get used to it very quickly.

Oddly, my Kindle shipped with version 4.0, and I could not get it to prompt me for an over-the-air software update, at least not in the first hour of playing with it. You can manually download software updates on Amazon’s website, click-and-drag them onto your Kindle, and then install them in the device’s settings. It was easy, but I expect to be automatically prompted in the future.

The Kindle’s menus are contextual, meaning that, depending on what screen you’re on, a different menu will pop up when you press the Menu button. The variations are mostly minor. For example, the “Change Font Size” menu item is present on both the Home screen and reading menus, but you can only select it while reading, which is dumb. Also, you can’t actually change fonts, only size, typeface (regular, condensed, or sans serif), line spacing, and words per line.

Nothing is present onscreen while reading except the text, any black-and-white pictures, and a progress bar at the bottom, which shows how much you’ve read as a percentage. The progress bar is also filled with dots, spaced seemingly randomly, which actually indicate the length of chapters. I find the progress bar a little distracting, but it’s nice to see how much further the next chapter is.

One thing I had to learn was that the 5-way controller doesn’t bring you to the next page. For some reason, I had to break the habit of pressing “right” on the controller instead of the Next Page button. Pressing right or left actually brings you to the next or previous chapter, which confused me until I realized I was an idiot.

Reading Experience

Never mind those two thousand words, let’s move on to more important matters. What’s it like to read on this thing?

Simply put, it’s wonderful.

You hear all about how great e-ink displays are, but they’re definitely one of those things you don’t understand until you’ve tried it. They’re really great. The Kindle’s 6” display is easy on the eyes, clear, and soothing. It displays pictures nicely. The font, which a very quick Google search says is called Caecilia, is pleasant enough, although some choices would be nice. It’s easy to read in low light, and the text only looks better in well-lit conditions.

The Kindle is about the size of a mass market paperback. (See a comparison shot here.) I would guess it’d be easier for the visually impaired to read on the Kindle’s screen than on a standard mass market paperback’s page.

I absolutely love how there are Next and Previous Page buttons on both sides of the device, so it doesn’t matter which hand you use to hold it. Sometimes I accidentally think the left buttons are for Previous Page and the right buttons are for Next Page, but that’s only if I’m holding it with both hands, and I suspect it won’t last.

Something about the Kindle’s display encourages me to slow down and enjoy what I’m reading. It’s a wonderful break from the frantic skimming of reading on the web or any backlit screen. You can stare at the Kindle’s display for hours with minimal fatigue or strain, unlike a backlit display. I know many people are afraid to leave tangible paper-and-ink books behind, and as an English major, I completely understand. But the Kindle has many advantages, and I maintain that it’s the (for lack of a better word) content that matters. The medium in which it is presented is of far less consequence. A book’s spirit is contained in its words, and whether those words appear in ink or e-ink shouldn’t really matter. Still, I do know how good books feel, smell, taste, and all that. Just don’t fear the Kindle, especially if you haven’t given it a try.

On Owning a Kindle and an iPad

Now, I know those closest to me can’t wait to lovingly mock my Kindle purchase because I’m such an iPad evangelist. After all, one of my biggest reasons for buying an iPad was for reading. I’d like to discuss this here because I think it’s a valid debate, and I want to explain why I think owning both devices is nothing to scoff at.

First, let me clarify that a Kindle is not an iPad, and an iPad is not a Kindle. Yes, an iPad is capable of doing everything a Kindle can do; there is, after all, a Kindle app for the iPad.

Conversely, the Kindle obviously can’t do everything the iPad can do. The iPad is a mobile computer, just like the iPhone. It’s capable of just about every casual task a laptop can do: email, web browsing, reading, writing, music, games, etc. Whether or not a particular device is better for certain tasks is a different issue all together, and we won’t get into that here. (You’re welcome.)

Despite the iPad’s ability to read eBooks, reading on a Kindle is an entirely different experience. Let’s do this in bulleted form.

  • It’s healthier. Everyone knows that staring into a backlit screen for hours isn’t good for your eyes. The Kindle’s display doesn’t sear your retinas, even after many chapters. It also helps you sleep better. Blue light, such as the kind emitted by most electronic screens, keeps us awake by affecting melatonin (sleepy hormone) production. That’s why it’s recommended that we cease using backlit screens in the couple hours before bedtime. Reading on the Kindle before bed is about as harmful as reading a real book, i.e. not at all. It may not seem like a big deal, but when it comes to getting a good night’s sleep, every bit helps.
  • You can read outside. The iPhone and iPad have great displays, but they aren’t very useable with the sun glaring overhead, like, say, at the beach. I wouldn’t want to bring my iPad to the beach anyway, but a $79 Kindle? Absolutely. Not to mention I’ll be able to bring one Kindle with a ton of books on it, which is easier to carry than even a single paperback.
  • It’s for a different type of reading. I bought my iPad so I could read on it, that’s true. But most of my iPad reading comes in the form of blog posts, RSS feeds, Twitter, Instapaper, and other websites. It’s great for long-form articles, especially with Instapaper, but when it comes to really long-form reading, like books, it can grow tiresome. I read David Allen’s Getting Things Done on the iPad, and it took me forever. Twitter, Facebook, RSS, and the entire Internet are only a tap away, so it’s easy to get distracted. The Kindle is built for a single task: reading eBooks. I can get lost in a book on the Kindle, whereas I was prone to skimming on the iPad. Skimming is fine for the web, but when it comes to a novel, I want to be totally present.

I’m sure the majority of people with tablet computers still buy hardcopies of books. It would be illogical to assume otherwise. I see the Kindle as a replacement for stockpiles of books that go untouched after one reading, if any. Could you use the iPad for the same purpose? Sure, but I argue that the Kindle is better suited for book-length reading. Just because someone owns an iPad doesn’t mean they shun books, and I don’t think it means they should necessarily shun the Kindle either.

I plan on bringing the Kindle anywhere I’d normally bring a good book, whereas I bring the iPad anywhere I need to be able to do mobile computing over wi-fi.

The bottom line is that the iPad and the Kindle are not competing products. Buying a Motorola Xoom or an HP TouchPad when you already have an iPad doesn’t make sense because they’re the same type of product: tablet computers. Buying an e-reader to supplement your tablet is much more logical. I’m not saying that everyone who has an iPad should buy a Kindle, but I do think it’s easy to understand why someone would prefer to own both, whether you’re a gadget nerd or not.

So, anyway.

I’m very happy with my purchase. For a long time now, I’ve been unable to read books as much as I’d like to, and even then, I rarely finish them. I foresee the Kindle being a great asset in helping me get back to enjoying books. It’s a device designed for one thing, which it does very well and for an inexpensive price. Richard J. Anderson sums it up nicely:

For all intents and purposes, the Kindle comes off as a unitasking device. When I pick it up, I am picking it up to read something—and I love to pick it up.

I agree with every word of Richard’s article. The Kindle has already changed my reading habits by eliminating excuses to read.

As much as I love the iPad, I’m now an avid supporter of Amazon’s Kindle as well. I think any book lover would do well to consider one.