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Why I'm Returning My Amazon KindleDecember 16, 2007
The device itself works fine. Yes, the screen could be more readable and it's awkward to handle because the previous- and next-page buttons are much too big. (You can't grab the device by its edges.)
I finished reading my first book on the Kindle yesterday (The Kite Runner), and the experience was fine. I really like the ability to preview any book by reading the first three chapters. Web access is clumsy because most web sites expect a much wider screen and clicking on links is roundabout and flakey, but it does work, it's very fast, and it doesn't depend on WiFi. Buying even best sellers for $10 or less is a great deal, as is the free web access.
But the problem is that the books are incomplete. I started the sample of my second book, Under the Banner of Heaven, and I noticed that the footnotes, marked with an asterisk in the text, were missing. (You're supposed to be able to select them as hyperlinks, but they weren't connected to anything.)
I checked another book I had in paper form, Einstein: His Life and Universe, and the only footnote that I could find in the sample seemed to be linked, although I couldn't actually access it since it wasn't part of the sample. Fair enough.
But The Path Between the Seas failed. A footnote was marked with an asterisk, but not linked.
I queried Amazon's very responsive Customer Service, and they responded (on a Sunday!) with this: "Kindle Editions are electronic versions based on the original publication issued by the publishers. Occasionally, conversion of that content for reading on Kindle may require modification of content, layout, or format, including the omission of some images and tables and in this case footnotes."
Well, I don't want to read Kindle Editions, whatever they are. I want to read the books as written.
I might be able to tolerate the situation if the abridged books were so marked in the store, but they aren't. I'm also disturbed by Amazon's claim that they have 90,000+ (or whatever) books available, which simply isn't true.
Amazon is very good about returning Kindles (or anything else). They even supply a UPS label that you can print, so all I have to do is drop the box off at the UPS counter at my local Staples store.
No hard feelings against Amazon, who is still my favorite retailer. It's a shame that the Kindle is done in by sloppy preparation and misleading descriptions of the books. Maybe that will change someday, but, until it does, I'll insist on the books I read being complete.
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A small collection of my best photos (click the image). You can order prints, too.
The 2004 2nd Edition, a so-called "update" of the 1985 book, which turned out, not surprisingly, to be a re-write. Covers Solaris, Linux, FreeBSD, and Darwin (Mac OS X).
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