I’m just over a week into my 14 day free trial of The Guardian and The Observer on the Kindle, and here’s what I Reckon. I know there’s no reason why anyone should give a damn about what I Reckon, but I have lived with the thing for 8 days now, and it’s time to take stock.
It is beautifully done – I had read very negative comments about The Times on the Kindle, and although I’ve not tried that paper, The Guardian seem to have done a much better job. You feel that the content has been properly reformatted for the e-book reader, there are no broken links or oddities that I’ve found. There are photographs which you can click on to see full-screen. I actually quite like looking at photos on the Kindle – black and white of course, but much better than a black and white newspaper photo. It’s not as richly-illustrated at the print version, however – for example I see from Twitter that today’s Observer profile of Louise Mensch has a cartoon, which is absent from the Kindle edition.
The convenience is good – I wake up and, as long as I left the wireless connection on, I find the day’s paper delivered freshly to my bedside table, ready for a quick browse in bed and then on the train. I love the Kindle reading experience – and the navigation of the paper in The Guardian’s implementation is as good as I think it could possibly be. You use the left & right 4-way buttons to skip articles, the page turn buttons navigate a page at a time. A link at the bottom takes you to the main menu at a single click. The built-in dictionary works too – not that I’ve found The Guardian taxing my vocabulary as much as some of the books I’ve read in the last year.
It feels very complete – I’ve not compared it directly with a print edition, but I get the sense that every word is there, if not every picture, including supplements like The Guide on Saturday and Observer Food Monthly.
I do like to clip out bits of paper, especially of reviews with lists of books and music I might enjoy – and you can do electronic ‘clippings’ on the Kindle, which get dumped in your clippings file on the Kindle itself. These lose all their formatting, though. For example, I clipped an article on Saturday where crime writers recommended their favourite books, and it’s just come out as one huge long stream of text, sub-heads and cross-heads all folded into one massively long paragraph – so working out who recommended which book is not easy. You can also tweet links to gobbets of text (as you can with books).
But then, there is the cost. £10 a month. Cheaper than the paper edition if you buy it every day – but I only ever used to buy The Guardian on Saturdays (mainly for the review, the glossy magazine and The Guide). And as far as I can see every word is available for free on their web site. So while I’m reading it on my Kindle, Mrs Wiki next to me is enjoying it in colour on her iPad – and for nothing. Not a penny.
So I’m cancelling my trial subscription today. I hate the Times paywall as much as anyone, but £10 a month is too much for something freely available elsewhere, even on the iPhone in my pocket. It’s one of those things like Spotify Mobile: if it were only a bit cheaper I might justify it to myself. A fiver a month feels about right. Sorry, Guardian on Kindle – we had a few laughs, I will miss you, but it’s not me, it’s you. It’s over.