Look both ways: forward and back
Q. The Kindle Fire is going to be released in a few days…are you excited?
A. I am! Mine is supposed to arrive on November 16, although I’m hoping it gets here a day earlier, on the official release date.
Q. Has your Amazon tracking told you that it’s been shipped yet?
A. Not yet, although I’m seeing that from other people in the Amazon Kindle community.
Q. Does that worry you?
A. No…I paid extra for one day shipping…so it doesn’t have to leave a distribution center until Monday for me to get it. I keep checking for a change in status, though.
Q. How much did you pay?
A. The shipping was about twenty dollars…kind of makes me wish I’d already had Prime.
A. That’s a program from Amazon…you pay $79 a year, and then you get free two day shipping on a lot of the items, and one day shipping for $3.99. I could have saved about $15.
Q. Why didn’t you join Prime to save on the shipping?
A. Well, I get a free month of Prime with the Fire…but not if I already have it. I’ve been holding out until then.
Q. Is Prime new?
A. Not really…it’s been around since 2005.
Q. Why didn’t you already belong, then? Don’t you get a lot of things from Amazon?
A. We do, but I’d done the analysis…it wouldn’t have saved us money on shipping. It would have saved us time, though. We usually get things with free Super Saver Shipping…you have to have $25 worth of stuff, and it take several days for us to get it, sometimes longer. We also subscribe to some household items…that’s also free shipping, and you get a discount.
Q. So, you didn’t pay $79 a year in shipping and handling to Amazon in a year?
A. That’s right.
Q. Will you renew Prime after the fee month you’ll get?
A. Yes, I think we’ve decided to do that. The idea of Prime always sounded like….I like the idea of ordering with no minimum and having things in a couple of days. Also, they’ve added the benefits of free streaming video and free book borrowing…that reaches the tipping point. At least, we’ll try it out during the free month and seriously consider it.
Q. You mentioned the free video. Is that going to be one of your main uses of the Kindle Fire?
A. Well, that’s an interesting question. I don’t really watch movies and TV online much now…0r at least, not on a computer. I watch streaming video from Netflix, but I use a Roku box to watch that on my TV.
Q. What is a Roku box?
A. It’s a little gadget that goes on top of your TV. It connects to your wi-fi network, and streams video through the TV. I wasn’t convinced about it, but we had friends who loved theirs. We tried it, and it’s been great…we cancelled our premium cable channels because of it.
Q. Okay. So you don’t think you’ll watch video on your Fire?
A. I’ll try it out, and I might watch short things, like YouTube, but I don’t picture using it as my main viewing platform.
Q. How do you picture using your Kindle Fire?
A. Really, one of the main reasons is for blogging. I’m really hoping I’ll be comfortable typing on it. I’m a touch typist, and typing on a SmartPhone is just not a skill I’ve mastered. My kid is much faster than me when we text. I cheat, though…I use the speech-to-text on my Android phone.
Q. That’s where you talk to it and it types for you?
A. Yes. It’s sort of the opposite of the Kindle’s text-to-speech. That one takes the written word and reads it out loud to you. Speech-to-text takes the spoken word, and turns it into writing.
Q. Like Dragon?
A. Yes, but this is built into Android devices.
Q. Does that mean it will be on the Kindle Fire?
A. I would expect that, yes. [Editor's note: the Kindle Fire does not have a microphone as far as we know, so this is not an option. Thanks to our reader Lexi for pointing this out. We blame the heat of a live splinterview.]
Q. Oh, will the Kindle Fire have the other one…text-to-speech?
A. Unfortunately, we don’t know that yet. I was told definitively by Amazon that it would, but I’ve heard that other people have been told that it wouldn’t. That’s one of the things I’ll be checking when I get it…or hopefully, in the User’s Guide before that.
Q. You think Amazon will make the User’s Guide available before people get the Fire?
A. I hope so…I think it’s likely.
Q. So, why wouldn’t you use the speech-to-text on the Fire instead of typing?
A. It’s actually pretty slow. When I use it on my SmartPhone, it can take ten seconds to figure out a sentence. I type pretty quickly…the last time I was tested, I was in the 90s. That’s fast, but it’s not super-fast. Still, I type faster than the speech-to-text on my phone. I’d prefer to type, anyway. I don’t want to be in a restaurant talking to my Kindle Fire.
Q. Won’t you need to be connected to the internet to use your Kindle Fire? How will you do that in a restaurant?
A. First, I’m hoping I can compose offline. Second, many of the places I eat have free wi-fi…Fresh Choice, Whole Foods.
Q. You eat out at Whole Foods?
A. I get lunch there sometimes, yes.
Q. Okay. So you’ll most use the Kindle Fire to write? Is it designed for that?
A. I think it’s mostly designed for entertainment…I call it an “entertablet”, for entertainment tablet. However, I do think it’s going to handle simple typing well enough.
Q. That makes it a $200 typewriter for you?
A. No, it’s more than that. I also want to check websites…if I can log into my work e-mail while I’m out, that would be a big help.
Q. That doesn’t sound very exciting.
A. You’re right. It’s a pretty flashy device for those purposes. I’ll use it for fun too, though.
Q. Like reading? You’ve written a lot about being a big reader.
A. Um…I’m not quite sure. I really like the reading experience on a Kindle. I might use it for short things…might be okay for a short story or an article at lunch, for example. I expect to carry both, though.
Q. Your Kindle and your Fire?
A. Yes, that’s what I’m figuring.
Q. Isn’t that a lot to carry…oh, and you’ll carry your SmartPhone, too?
A. That’s the plan. I just got a Blackberry from work, too.
Q. Does it seem excessive carrying all those gadgets?
A. (laughs) Yes, kind of, but they serve different purposes.
Q. If you aren’t going to read on it or watch video on it much, how are you going to use it for fun?
A. Well, I’m quite the data consumer…going to news sites is fun for me. Oh, and I really hope to be able to use it for the Amazon forums! That’s very high on the list. I can read them now on my SmartPhone, but composing there is a challenge. I’ll also use apps and games.
Q. Do you do that now?
A. I use a few things on my SmartPhone now. Just goofy stuff.
Q. Angry Birds?
A. My Significant Other played that a lot…I’ve played it some. I play games more often on my Kindle.
Q. You play games on your Kindle?
A. Yes…if I’m only in line for a few minutes, I’d rather interrupt Jigsaw Words than Mark Twain.
Q. That’s not a very sophisticated game, at least in terms of software. You’re not an online gamer?
A. No, not really. I’m not against it, I just don’t have the time. I wouldn’t be considered a gamer…although I used to be able to beat Golden Axe in the arcade on one quarter.
Q. So you’re paying $200 so you can write a blog and play word games? Sounds like the Kindle would be better for that.
A. It might be. The Kindle doesn’t work well enough for those websites, and doesn’t have a good typing experience for me…those are the main reasons for the Kindle Fire for me.
Q. Does it feel funny going from the E Ink screen of your other Kindle to the backlit screen of the Kindle Fire?
A. Well, I’m not really going from one to the other…I plan to use them both. Yes, though, it does seem odd. I never got into e-books before the Kindle, and the E Ink screen was a big part of that. That’s why I don’t expect to read much on the Kindle Fire.
Q. Talk about the reading experience on the E Ink Kindles.
A. I love it! I’m an inveterate booklover…I’ve been reading books forever, it seems like. I’ve got a floor-to-ceiling library in my house…and we planned on that when we bought the house. We had it in our last house, too. I have books that are over one hundred years old, and about ten thousand books on shelves in my house. However, I like reading on my Kindle better than reading a paperbook.
Q. Better than? Not just as good as?
A. Better than. Part of that is the increasing text size…that makes things much easier. If I pull an old paperback off the shelf, it can be a struggle. It’s also less complicated to read on a Kindle.
Q. Why is that?
A. When I want to turn the page, I just slightly flex my thumb…I don’t even think about it, really. Turning a paper page is actually a very complicated operation, when you think about it. Robots can’t do it much at all, yet. I also don’t need a bookmark…that’s a little thing, but it counts.
Q. That’s why you’ll carry a Kindle in addition to the Fire?
A. The Fire technically is a Kindle, but yes. I wish Amazon hadn’t named the Fire a Kindle.
A. I liked the Kindle indicating an E Ink, or at least reflective, screen. Amazon’s already got a brand name…Amazon. I want them to be able to expand into things like phones and…refrigerators. I don’t want them to confuse the Kindle brand, and possibly limit themselves.
A. Okay. You’ve mentioned that you are working on a book about the Kindle Fire…
Q. Yes. I hope to get it out within a few days of getting the device.
A. How are you going to do that? Doesn’t it take you more than a few days to write a book?
A. Sure, but I can pre-write a lot of it.
Q. How can you do that without having a Fire to look at?
A. I always think the big picture is the important thing. I don’t think people can remember the how if they don’t understand the why. I can write about those big ideas before I have it, and then do step-by-steps and link to more information after I have it.
Q. What’s the format of the book?
A. Much of it will be like this…interviews on the main topics about the Kindle Fire. Actually, what I call “splinterviews”.
A. Yes. I call them that because it’s really me doing both parts. I’m interviewing myself, so it’s like I’m “splintered”, so to speak.
Q. You mean I”m not real?
A. Well, you aren’t or I’m not…hard to say. Somebody looking at this being written would only see one person, though.
Q. Do you figure out the questions and answers before you write them?
A. No, it’s like when I write a story. I don’t know what the characters are going to say ahead of time. The way I like to write, I don’t even know the end of the story, usually. People find that hard to believe, but I think it might be my improv background.
Q. You did improvisation?
A. Yes, I used to do that.
Q. Wait, so when you write a story, you don’t know the end?
A. Not usually. The one that surprises people the most on that is Doctor Watson’s Blog. I didn’t know what the answer to the mystery was going to be when I was writing the first chapter…I didn’t even know what the mystery was.
Q. How can you put in clues, then?
A. It’s just the way my mind works. I put in things I think will matter later.
Q. Do you rewrite?
A. Not much…I do some polishing, sometimes.
Q. Let’s get back to the Kindle Fire book. You plan to have it available shortly after the release?
A. Yes. I want to test some specific things, and maybe take some pictures to include. I’d like to show how it looks in bright light, for example, in comparison to a Kindle. I don’t want to wait too long, though…people will want to know about the Fire right away.
Q. Why don’t you just talk about it in the blog?
A. I could, but I don’t want to overwhelm the blog with in depth Fire stuff. I will cover it there, but I’m hoping to write something like 75,000 words for the book…that’s a lot more than I would do in the blog.
Q. 75,000? Why not 100,000?
A. That was my first thought, but I’m planning to sell the book for $2.99. I figure 75,000 words is about the equivalent of three hundred pages…the traditional number is 250 words per page. I figure that works out to about a penny a page…that’s a nice figure. (smiles) I may write more than that, but I want to make something realistic so I can get it out before Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving.
Q. Why does that matter?
A. Black Friday is the biggest shopping day of the year…well, certainly, of the holiday season. The Fire is going to be in the stores…people will want it then.
Q. That makes sense…do you think there will be a big market for it?
A. I don’t really know. It’s kind of an offbeat approach. I think people will find it very useful, but I’m sure there will be ninety-nine cent titles, and more expensive ones, too. I don’t know how many people will get it.
Q. Your blog is popular, though.
A. It’s a top ten blog in the Kindle store, but if this was a paperbook, the sales wouldn’t be considered especially good. Digital sales still aren’t like paper sales.
Q. Is that disappointing?
A. Not at all! If I had to do these things in paper, I’d never sell any of them, most likely. I’m happy with digital only sales. I also plan to link to resources on Amazon and other websites…that wouldn’t work very well in paper.
Q. Right. Well, we’d better let you get to that writing.
A. Thanks! My Significant Other and kid are out today to give me time to get a big chunk of it done.
Q. I hope we didn’t take too much time on this.
A. The blog comes first for my writing. I love having my regular readers, and from a monetary standpoint, it’s the big income generator for my creative work right now. That’s not the main reason I do it, but it’s nice to be rewarded for the time and effort I put into this. Seriously,what I like best is the give and take with readers…even if they don’t comment, I know I’ve helped people. If I didn’t have the subscribers, though, it would be hard to justify.
Q. Well, good luck in your writing today.
A. Thanks! I’m counting the days until the Fire gets here…it’s supposed to be four days, but I suppose I might have it Tuesday. It won’t make me forget my Kindle, but I’m looking forward to this new world!
This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.