Five reasons why Filipino readers should get a Kindle 3

Fan reading on a WiFi-enabled Kindle 3.

(Disclaimer: No arrangement, financial or otherwise, has been made between, which produces the Kindle 3, and this blogger. But then again, if Jeff Bezos insists, I’d probably be willing to reconsider. After all, what’s a few hundred shares of between friends?)

Nope, it’s not the Apple iPad.
The Kindle 3 offers no sharp color images, no touch-sensitive screen, no huge digital storage.
However, what it does — which is to be an eBook reader — it does exceedingly well.
Once you turn it on and dive headlong into an eBook, the world disappears — just about the same kind of magic you get from reading a book with magnificent prose and effortless storytelling.
Of course, there’s more to the Kindle than just replicating and enhancing the reading experience on a digital screen.
Unfortunately, that’s where its features fall short. Sure, it can play podcasts and mp3 files.
Except you can’t see a fancy colorful icon representing the music being played unlike in other devices. (And the tinny set of speakers can barely hold its own against say, the hubbub of a regular household.)
The Kindle 3 can also connect to a wireless network even though typing on its keyboard is more tedious than texting on a touchscreen.
But then again, all this is beside the point.
Nobody intends to buy a Kindle just to use it for wireless surfing anyway.
You get a Kindle because you’re a voracious reader and, for one reason or another, you’d like to try your hand at eBooks.
Here are my five reasons why you should get a Kindle now.

1) It’s sexier than its predecessors.

Let’s face it.
Many people who use gadgets judge them by how they look and not just about what they do. This partly explains the popularity of Apple products.
Besides being easy to use, iPods, iPhones, iMacs, iPads, and MacBook Air laptops all look like the gadget equivalents of FHM cover models.
The same goes for the Kindle 3.
I never gave the first two Kindle iterations a second look. But that was then.
When reduced the Kindle’s size, replaced its sharp edges with smooth contours, changed its color to graphite from white, and introduced what is now called the Kindle 3, I was awed.
Jeff Bezos’s favorite company finally got it right the third time.

2) It’s cheaper.

The very first Kindle was launched in November 2007 and sold for $399. The second was released in February 2009, sold for $359, a price that was later cut to $259.
Kindle 3 was launched in August this year and was priced at $139, less than half of the launch prices of the first two.
At current exchange rates (roughly P43 to 1), the Kindle 3 is cheaper than the many cellphones used by most, if not all, salaried Filipinos.
If you can afford to buy a web-enabled mobile phone, you can easily get the K3. (That is of course if you read, like, you know, books. If you don’t, go get yourself a new textmate or something.)
Here’s another explanation: the dollar is currently weak.
As a result, dollar-based imports — including the Kindle 3 — are cheaper. Which also explains why fuel prices should be lower as well.
But that’s another story.

3) Tons of free eBooks.

And I’m talking about the classics whose copyrights have expired and are now in the public domain — Joseph Conrad’s The Heart of Darkness, Henry Thoreau’s Walden, and any of Arthur Conan Doyle’s books in his Sherlock Holmes series.
History geeks will also be glad to find out that the six volumes of the History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon is also freely available in various eBook formats.
So are the Doctrina Christiana (the first book published in the Philippines), Ibong Adarna, and the Kartilyang Makabayan by Hermenegildo Cruz.
These and many more — including a Dutch translation of Jose Rizal’s Noli Me Tangere — can be downloaded for free from [See: Noli Me Tangere, Project Gutenberg]

4) It’s a handy, accessible library.

The K3 is slightly smaller and thinner than a regular trade paperback.
But it can store as much as 3,500 books.
Or at least that’s what says.
And I’m not about to verify that claim.
As far as I’m concerned, the 38 fiction, non-fiction, reference, and do-it-yourself eBooks I’ve downloaded have yet to make a dent on my K3’s storage capacity.
I still have three gigabytes worth of storage and I’m not about to complain.
Access to these many books can’t hurt especially if you’re in line that seems to go on forever inside a bank whose staff moves at a glacial pace. [See: Bank of the Philippine Islands]

5) It’s a professional tool.

Besides reading science-fiction and fantasy books on his Kindle, the friend who convinced me to get one uses his to store notes.
Useful, he says, in meetings where laptops are overkill because no one is really expected to deliver a PowerPoint presentation.
Yes, you can store and access notes and PDF files on the Kindle.
Notes can be converted to either mobi or azn — Amazon’s proprietary format — using freely available apps.
Meanwhile, PDF files can be read by the K3 in two ways.
They can copied and later viewed as native PDF files or they can be converted and viewed as azn files on the Kindle.
PDF files can also be converted to the azn format for free once you register your Kindle with [See: Free PDF Kindle conversion]
The K3’s ability to store notes is so useful that I’ve begun to look forward to meetings.
After all, it’s just another opportunity to show off Juanita del Pablo.* (Yes, that’s the name of my K3).

*From the Trivial Pursuits Dept. JDP is a name of an actress in the adult entertainment industry mentioned in Martin Amis’ novel, Money. She is referred to by John Self, the protagonist, but she has no lines in the book, just like Diana Proletaria, an industry colleague.