Amazon designed the Kindle to be bookish, with the dimensions of a paperback and a tapering of width to emulate a book’s binding. Does this design work for Kindle newspaper and magazine subscriptions? I was given a Kindle for Christmas, and in this fifth post in my shakedown series, I give my take on reading subscriptions.
Every Saturday I pick up a print copy of Canada’s The Globe and Mail newspaper. Unfortunately, the Globe does not deliver its print edition to my rural address nor is it available internationally. When the Kindle came to Canada late last year, I was pleased to see it in the list of twelve Canadian newspaper subscriptions available through the Kindle store. I requested its fourteen day free trial. The text content of the print and digital version is comparable. The absence of photos for international papers is a shortcoming, no doubt related to Amazon’s international wireless contract; Amazon, please sort this out. Personally, I do not miss the crossword, classifieds or advertising. Issues older than seven days are deleted unless you clip an article or tag them to be kept.
I am fond of the standard newspaper broadsheet layout so I was curious how I would like reading the Globe in the Kindle’s book format. The Kindle version comes with indexes for sections and headlines. I can quickly browse the headlines using the Next Page button, read an article, then jump back to the headline index. I scan broadsheets visually, but the Kindle compensates with summary functions like the total number of words in an article. The Kindle shows up wirelessly every morning (sweet!) and it is more portable than the print version. I find myself reading the newspaper every day rather than just on Saturdays, and have renewed my subscription twice for $15.99 monthly. I like reading newspapers on the Kindle more than books, and this should be good news for the ailing newspaper industry. The book shape of the Kindle does not seem to matter much, though Skiff’s 11.5″ flexible ereader piqued my interest.
As for other subscriptions, I tried a trial offer for Technology Review. Magazines are meant to be picture-rich, and without the pictures it was not worth it. I cancelled after one issue. There are only 39 magazines to choose from at the Kindle store and no Canadian content. If they offered even the text version of The Walrus, I would subscribe in a heartbeat.
Editor’s Note: This article, the fifth in a series, is reprinted, with permission, from John Miedema’s blog. John is a graduate of the Master of Library and Information Science program at the University of Western Ontario. In October, he presented at the Library of Congress on his recently published book, Slow Reading. He also developed open source software which links bibliographic data from Open Library to web pages and library catalogues. Articles on the software were published in Information Standards Quarterly and the Code4Lib journal. PB