Wanted: A Waterproof Kindle…

Kindle 2: I hope it’s waterproof!

Over the past few months I got used to reading on my Kindle. No, it still isn’t the best reading experience. When reading at night – which is when I read most – I’d prefer a backlit screen. The flashing page turns really irritate me, and the page-turn “paddles” are so easy to hit by mistake that I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve involuntarily flipped backwards or forwards (sometimes multiple pages).

But I’ve been a voracious reader since the age of three. From the age of ten, and during my early teens in the East End of Glasgow, I would check out eight books at a time from the local public library – and I still had to visit it twice a week (My own two tickets would allow me to check out only two books. But I could get six more tickets by enrolling my father, mother and sister…)

I found I was prepared to put up with the Kindle’s shortcomings in exchange for the real convenience of being able to carry my library around with me – and especially for the ability to buy books online from Amazon.

The biggest problem I have is that one of my favorite places to read is in the bath. Run a nice hot bath, lie back and relax with a book… Aaaaah!

And that’s how my first Kindle died.

Oh, I thought I had the technique down. I never actually held the Kindle over the bathwater. I’d found a way of balancing it against the faucets; only had to reach up and turn the pages.

But, as my countryman the poet Robert Burns tells us, “The best-laid plans of mice and men gang aft agley” (Translation: No matter how good your plan, Mr Murphy will often get you).

I’d just had a lovely bath and a good read, and slipped as I was getting out. The towel caught the Kindle, and – splash!

I quickly whipped it out, dried it off, hoping that water hadn’t had time to reach the innards. But it was gone. Half the screen was solid black, the other half solid white. Taking out the battery, drying the Kindle out, recharging the battery – nothing worked. Dead. Gone. R.I.P.

And of course, my portable library and the book I was reading went with it.

I haven’t lost my library. At my home I can’t get Kindle to connect wirelessly. So I’ve been buying my books on my laptop and downloading them to there, then synching the Kindle. So the .azw books are still there on my hard drive. I just need another Kindle, activated to the same Amazon account.

I decided not to buy another Kindle 1. They were not available on Amazon, and anyway the Kindle 2 was on the way. Perhaps that would fix some of my issues.

Once Amazon unveiled Kindle 2 it was obvious they’re been listening to Kindle 1 customers. Gone are the horrible page-turn paddles, replaced by page-turn buttons which are still large enough to be easy to hit, but don’t automatically turn pages when you pick up the device.

The Amazon blurb for the Kindle 2 says that it now has 16 levels of gray instead of the previous 4, so that should help a lot with photos in books, which were previously awful. I do recollect reading somewhere that page-turns were also less intrusively “flashy”, but we’ll have to wait and see.

Anyway, I went ahead and ordered my Kindle 2 a few weeks ago. They’re supposed to be available for customers on February 24, with preference being given to existing Kindle owners. We’ll see. But I’m certainly looking forward to a device that’s thinner, with longer battery life (although I never found that to be a problem with Kindle 1).

And I’m really looking forward to continuing the Terry Pratchett novel I was reading in the bath that day…

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17 thoughts on “Wanted: A Waterproof Kindle…

  1. Bill Hill

    Thanks, Karl. That’s EXACTLY what I used to do with my PDA when I read on that. It used to work just fine. And I forgot to do it with the Kindle. I think I didn’t have a large enough Ziplock baggie handy…

    Reply
  2. Smemento

    “…and been involved in many projects related to reading on a screen.” Am I the only one that finds hard reading white text on a black background?I wonder when we will see a Kindle here in third world’s Italy. Even though the real step into the future would be a waterproof AND flexible Kindle. You can sit on a book by accident, but you CAN’T sit on the Kindle. You can drop a book, but you CAN’T drop a Kindle. And it seems pretty slippery…Plus, you can’t wipe your butt with a Kindle if you finish the toilet paper…

    Reply
  3. Bill Hill

    I’d have preferred to use black text on a white background. However, because Blogger uses a single-column layout, once you scroll down the screen while reading, it means there’s a massive area of screen which is completely unused.If the background is white, you end up punching way too much light at the reader.A page of printed text reads to the eye as gray.I just received my Kindle2, and it’s a very nice device indeed – much better than v1. I’ll write in a lot more detail in my next post.I think Kindle2 will be huge, and that means you’ll start to see it go international.Waterproof and flexible? Not required. No-one cares that the iPod is neither of those things, and it’s done pretty well.As for the other use, well if you wipe your butt with books you deserve all the paper-cuts you’ll get…

    Reply
  4. Richard Fink

    Ahh… for the days when WHO was in the tub with me was a lot more important than WHAT. ;)I’ve been looking over Amazon’s promo stuff for the Kindle2 and am greatly impressed. Time to buy.I had passed on Kindle 1 in favor of the IRex Iliad which has a substantially larger screen and a more open platform.(No need to filter documents through emails to Amazon to load them up.)I am especially intrigued by the built-in “basic” browser the Kindle 2 is said to have.Pls report!BTW – there was an enraging (to me) article in the NYTimes by the president of the Authors Guild chiding the Kindle 2 for providing the equivalent of audio books with no extra fees going to publishers (and, presumably, authors)The Kindle Swindle?Geez…(Lastly, I had an unrecoverable email data loss – long story – could you pop me an email so I’ve got your right address on file? Thanks.)

    Reply
  5. Anonymous

    Trendy Digital makes an awesome waterproof case for the kindle 2. You can still read through the case and even if you decided that you want to read underwater you could!! It is so great. I love it and it’s only 15 bucks on amazon. Happy reading! -Christina

    Reply
  6. Anonymous

    The Trendy Digital case is terrible – you can’t turn the unit on and off and using keys is a non-starter. There is a company called Kindle Coat that is in negotiations with Amzaon right now and apparently they have a patented cover for under $50 – which will keep your Kindle 2 safe for tub reading!

    Reply
  7. Dave

    Excellent point! I would buy a Kindle right now if it were waterproof. I love to read at the beach and in the bathtub. Whoever makes the first waterproof electronic book, be it the Kindle or R&N's Nook, I will buy it.

    Reply
  8. Anonymous

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  9. Bill

    I agree with Dave. I would love a Kindle (or any other reader such as a Nook), an in fact already have a significant collection that I have used to sync to my iPhone (I know, not comparable). The problem is, during the summer I do the majority of my reading while floating on the pool at night. I've already destrpyed one iPhone, and I am not going to make the same mistake again. The ziplock bag idea is appealing, but I am still holding out for something more permanent. If such a device were to be made or, perhaps more practically, a reliable waterproof case for the kindle or nook was produced, I would be an instant customer.

    Reply
  10. drew

    we go to the beach when my friend laugh at my kindle accessories, look weird when I put my kindle in trendydigital case but it pays off when we got hit by the wave. a few of us must leave hand phone in peace with pocket protection.

    Reply
  11. Anonymous

    I've used a case called the iLoc and it's been great for at the beach. I can lay down my kindle without worrying about getting scratches from the sand or locking up the keys from sand. Also protects from water. I got it for only a couple bucks at http://www.iLocStore.com

    Reply

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