Amazon's Kindle Oasis and the sheer joy of reading

"It doesn't matter how good or bad the product is, the fact is that people don't read anymore. Forty percent of the people in the U.S. read one book or less last year. The whole conception is flawed at the top because people don't read anymore." — Steve Jobs on the introduction of the Kindle"We think iPad will be a terrific e-book reader for popular books and textbooks." Steve Job on iPad Launch day

I love books. I love to read. Back when there were bookstores, I'd spend every Friday afternoon browsing the shelves, checking for anything new from my favorite authors, walking the aisles for new writers and genres. I rarely left without at least three or four new books. When I traveled, I never wanted to be with less than three unread books; that's how I killed time flying in the days before Wi-Fi in the sky.

When Kindle came out, I was totally into the idea. The notion of traveling not with a few books but with a whole library in a form lighter and easier to carry than even a single book? That was a dream come true. At least mostly. While more convenient, even its e-ink display wasn't as enjoyable a reading experience as a real, paper book.

That's what the new Kindle Oasis hopes to achieve.

E-book readers have been around for a long time. I bought my first one from a friend in Tokyo—the original Sony Libre. It was mediocre but hinted at the future. The Oasis is most of the way there. The hardware is beautiful. It's small, it's light. In a world where there's a race for thinnest gadget, the Kindle Oasis wins hands down. The balance and ergonomics feel great. There's virtually nothing about the hardware I don't like. It also has a beautiful leather cover with integrated battery for topping off.

The screen is a beautiful 300dpi e-ink display (Amazon says it's improved from last year's model, but I can't see the difference). Page turn lag is a thing of the past and the Kindle handles all of Amazon's titles, of course, as well as any other .Mobi or PDF file.

Now, I already have an iPhone and an iPad, which have Retina displays and offer great reading experiences, so why bother with a Kindle or any e-reader? Why bother with a uni-tasker that would make Alton Brown cringe?

For the sheer joy of reading.

  • The soft, always-on LED-lit display that makes reading electronically more like reading paper.
  • The feather-light weight of just a few ounces that make such a difference when reading for more than fifteen minutes.
  • The immersive experience, where the device truly does disappear.

Those are things that simply aren't replicated on any tablet. Because sometimes, the all in one, converged device doesn't offer the optimal experience.

Ask a photography enthusiast about their cameras or a watch enthusiast about the mechanical marvel on their wrist. Both are ultimate uni-taskers.

The Kindle Oasis is an e-book reader par-excellence—an ultimate uni-tasker like the camera or watch.

It does have a few downsides, though.

  • It costs way too much (part of that is the leather cover and battery).
  • It's still a niche device that, if you don't want to read, is useless to you.

For anyone who loves—loves—to read, though, it might become your favorite gadget. It's already become a permanent fixture on my night table and in my carry bag.

Michael Gartenberg

I’ve covered the personal technology beat for more than two decades at places like Gartner, Jupiter Research and Altimeter Group. I’ve also had the fun of contributing my $.02 on the topic at Computerworld, Engadget, Macworld, SlashGear and now iMore. Most recently I spent a few years at Apple as Sr. Director of Worldwide Product Marketing. On Twitter I’m an unverified @gartenberg. I still own some Apple stock.