Friday, March 19, 2010

Kindle for the Mac

I downloaded the Kindle reader for the Mac beta yesterday to try it out, and was immediately reminded of why I don’t read books on my computer.

Installation was simple enough, and then you hit a button and it opens a web browser page at Amazon where you can buy books (I bought a free book; the Complete Sherlock Holmes.) A few seconds after purchase the book appeared back in the Kindle app, and I could open it.

The page looks pretty much as you’d expect (see screen shot.) You can adjust the width of the page, as well as the font sizes. You can move from page to page by clicking on left and right arrows, or you can drag up and down and scroll through the pages. I found the later very disorienting.

In fact, I found going from page to page a bit disorienting no matter what method I used. There didn’t seem to be an obvious indication of being on a specific page as you changed pages; you sort of had to take it on faith that the next page followed the previous one. This was particularly so with the scrolling, where I completely felt like I had no idea where I was jumping to.

It’s surprising how tiny little details can have a huge impact on user experience.

I do read a lot of stuff on the screen (on web pages, and when I’m writing) so I think I can read a book on screen. This just didn’t make me want to do it.

I don’t know if the iPad will make me feel differently. I’ve been hoping it will, but I’m actually having second thoughts now.

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