Why a Kindle 3 is better than a “real book”

A few months on from buying my kindle 3 in Australia, I am very happy with the device. Before buying it, I was hesitant because I “liked reading real books” but now I am a converted kindle user.

kindle-australia-books

Explaining to a friend of mine (hi Sarah) the other day why she had to get a kindle instead of real books, my main points were:

  1. Highlights – The kindle 3 allows you to make highlights of text that you want to read again later. I used to do so using dog ears in books but unless I had a pen handy, it was always hard to know exactly which part of the page I was referring to when I went back to reread. Highlights allows me to go back after reading a book and read each of my highlights sequentially. It also let me upload them directly to my twitter and or facebook.
  2. Dictionary – I didn’t initially think i would use this feature very much. That said, whilst reading certain books, I have found that I don’t know the meanings of as many words as I thought I did. Being able to quickly highlight a word and have the meaning come up instantly has been quite useful.
  3. Read multiple books simultaneously -  This is one of the biggest features for me. Being able to decide on the bus in the morning what book I’d like to read (out of maybe 6-10 unread books on the device) is pretty cool. I used to take 2 or 3 books with me and now don’t have to carry as much around with me.
  4. Holds your place in the book – This is a bit of an obvious one but never having to think about where I am in the book is useful. No placeholders or dog ears required.
  5. Cost – So far, the most I have paid for a kindle book (out of maybe 15 purchased) is $15.99. This number used to average much higher than that buying real books.

Update September 2012 – Click here for the latest Kindle in Australia Buyers Guide.

The Books I Read in 2010

This year’s reading list includes fiction, psychology and decision making, online marketing and usability, business and investing and ‘life’. Following on from 2009’s reading list, take a look below for more and please post comments or recommendations. I’d also add that I probably read 6 of the books below on my Australian Kindle 3 which i’m really liking.

Fiction

The Alchemist by Paul Coehlo – This is an even quicker read and one I struggled to put down. Whilst it is a bit overly religous, it is a very well written and engaging story that leaves you wanting to do chase your dreams and believe in yourself. A good book for those considering quitting the corporate world and starting a nursery.

Walden by Henry David Thoreau – This is an extremely interesting though hard to read book. Written in the 19th century by a now famous American contrarian thinker, Walden is a story about a man’s trip away from the beaten path. Thoreau gave up his regular life, saved just enough to go squat in a farm and make it his own and set about documenting his experience. With strikingly similar recurrent themes throughout the book to those I think most about today, it is interesting to see that our biggest dilemnas may not have changed that much in the past 200 years. Read it.

Psychology / Decision Making

The Black Swan by Nicholas Nassim Taleb – This book added a new dimension to the way I think about things. In parts articulating thoughts i’ve never been able to put together clearly, Taleb discusses the way extremely low possibility (and hence ‘unexpected’) events have shaped history and will continue to do so in the future. With a particular focus on stock markets, he outlines the importance of understanding that any attempt to model the world is likely to fall short of the unpredictable nature of the future. People should stop trying to find perfect models to fit the world and instead get used to living in a world that is inherently unpredictable.

Outliers by Malcomn Gladwell – I gave this book a go somewhere near Iguazu Falls in Argentina based on two of his other books. A good read that explained a few interesting concepts well. Becoming an expert at something takes time (10,000 hours he discussed) and those that we believe are brilliant in a particular area have often, if not always spent this time. Though simiplified, if you want to do something, devote time to it and you can do it. Another interesting topic he discusses is the effect of streaming children in high schools, the self fulfilling prophecies it creates and the long ranging effects it can have.

Predictably Irrational – by Dan Ariely – A painful to read book but very interesting nonetheless. Dan is a pioneer int he field fo behavioural economics and in this book and the next one below, he describes a number of experiments that outline some of the many irrational decisions that humans are wired to make in their lives. Compelling read and it changes the way you look at the world. You’ll start noticing yourself doing stupid things more often.

The upside of Irrationality by Dan Ariely – This is Dan’s second book and is not as good a read as the first but is still interesting.

Priceless by William Poundstone – Again, I think this book could have been written better and in many less words but it is a good read. A great look at pricing theory, why things are priced the way they are, how people make decisions and how businesses and consumers can benefit from it. Another book designed to help you get to know your rational shortcomings a bit better. A must for marketing / business people in my opinion.

Fooled by Randomness by Nicholas Nassim Taleb – Written before The Black Swan, this was Taleb’s first book on his theories of randomness, fat tails and the occurence of low probability events. Filled with interesting examples and again thought provoking ideas, i found it easier to read than the Black Swan.

Online Marketing and Usability

Landing page optimisation by Tim Ash – A good introductory book for those interested in online marketing through landing page optimisation.

Don’t make me think by Steve Krug – A great but again introductory book on web usability. If you want a quick run through on web standards (many of which have not changed since it was written), this is a good book.

Business and Investing

Rework by Fried and Hansson – A quick read about the business strategies and tips (especially for start ups) written by the people at 37 Signals. Simple, interesting and worthwhile.

The new buffettology by Mary Buffett – A slightly annoying read but one that nonetheless gave a range of insights into Warren Buffett’s different investments over the years.

Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits by Phil Fisher – Fantasic read. Need to reread it. All about business quality, the importance of management and competitive advantage (+what leads to it). Really enjoyed this one.

The Zeroes by Randall Lane – A story about a high flying Wall Street Magazine creator and owner during the zeroes and the GFC. Written very well and like a novel, it gives a good insight into Wall street, excess and how not to run a small business. Or how to run one that is ready to fail in a crash.

The Big Short by Michael Lewis – A book about those who bet against the continual rise in the Us housing market and made a small fortune. Focusing on Michael Burry, the man credited as the first to bet against the market, this book is well written, easy to read and hard to put down.

Too Big to Fail by Andrew Ross Sorkin – Excellent book. The best i’ve read about the financial crisis. Whilst long, it is easy to read and gives a play by play account fo the fall of bear sterns, Lehman Brothers, the fed bailout of the banks and their conversion to bank holding companies. Highly recommended.

Liar’s Poker by Michael Lewis – Didn’t love this book to be honest but I can see how it would have been great in its time.

Life

Superfreakonomics by Steven Levit and Stephen Dubner – Again, didn’t love this but it had some interesting arguments about contrarian climate change theories. Also it was quick so not too harmful.

Voltaires bastards by John raulston Saul – A great recommendaiton from my trusty second hand bookshop owner. Suggested after enjoying An Intimate History of Humanity, this book is about reason in the West. Specifically, about how reason was initially used as a method to avoid tyranny and has since been used as a reason to wield power. Very hard to read but rewarding.

Marching Powder by Rusty Young – I read this one early in the year before a trip to Brazil and Argentina. It is a quick read about an Australian spending time with an convicted cocaine smuggler in a prison in Bolivia. It is an interesting look into the very different world of Bolivia and its prisons.

The Bed of Procrustes by Nicholas Nassim Taleb – This is a collection of aphorisms that clearly demonstrate Taleb’s views on a number of matters. As he is clearly well read and has had plenty of time to think, I enjoyed a range of the aphorisms in this book. Will read again.

Too Soon Old Too Late Smart by Gordon Livingston – Highly recommended book. Really enjoyed it. Whilst a little fatalistic, this book is written by a psychiartrist with years of experience and who has also lost both of his children. It is written as 30 chapters aimed as little lessons about life. Quick and easy to read, again hard to put down.

And Never Stop Dancing by Gordon Livingston – A follow up on his book above. Again, didn’t enjoy it as much but still worthwhile reading.

Michael Lewitt Video on the US Government Stimulus

HCM Market Letter author Michael Lewitt comments on the US Government stimulus efforts.

I’ve been reading Michael’s articles for about 3 years and it is good to see him finally getting some more publicity as a result of publishing his new book The Death of Capital.

Other Comments from the December market letter include:

  1. Bad policy in the US will ensure the that boom and bust cycle will continue
  2. The US economy showing signs of improvement but not as much as might be expected following a recession. The data is also not as positive as it is being seen by the markets
  3. Europe (and the Euro) is in trouble with Spain Portugal, Greece, Ireland Belgium and Italy the most vulnerable
  4. China boom to end at some point unless “they are unlike every other growing economy in the history of the world” –  People trusting numbers coming out from China are not wise.
  5. He also gives a range of investment recommendations at the end of the article that are worth reading.

Michael Burry’s 4 Must Read Investing Books

The Big Short by Michael Lewis featured the stories of the first individuals to bet against the US housing market before the 07/08 financial crisis. Michael Burry was said to be the first to do so.

Not only was Michael (Mike) Burry said to have been one of the first to do so, he was also one of the most dogmatic in his approach.

Michael Burry - Scion Capital - The Big Short
Michael Burry's 4 must read investment books

Originally a doctor, Michael Burry spent countless hours learning to be a stock market investor by writing a stock market blog and investing himself  throughout the late 90’s and early 00’s. By the end of decade, he would be the instigator of billions of dollars of bets against the US housing market.

An intriguing character in the book who also turned an original $100,000 in his Scion Capital hedge fund into hundreds of millions, I spent some time trying to find excerpts from his early blog and forum posts.

One of the excerpts (including the 4 books he recommends to all those new to investing) is below:

Re: books

To get started, I’d suggest the following four books:

If you read these books thoroughly and in that order and never touch another book, you’ll have all you need to know. Another book you might want to consider is Value Investing made easy by Janet Lowe – a quick read. I have a fairly extensive listing of books on my site, with my reviews of them, and links to purchase them at amazon [Michael Burry’s site no longer live].

My problem is I’ve read way too much. One book stated, “If you’re not a voracious reader, you’ll probably never be a great investor.” But sometimes I wish I had a more focused knowledge base so that my investment strategy wouldn’t get all cluttered up.

Re: Security Analysis (Graham and Dodd) you can get a lot of the same info in a more accessible format elsewhere, but everyone says that Buffett’s favorite version is the 1951 edition. Yes there are differences, and the current version has a lot of non-Graham like stuff in it.

Good Investing,Mike

For a full list of his comments and posts, you can visit this Michael Burry profile on Silicon Investor.

Kindle 3 in Australia Review – My new electronic book (ebook) reader

I recently purchased the Kindle 3 wireless only ebook reader in Sydney, Australia after having it recommended by a good friend of mine.

Update September 2012 – Click here for the latest Kindle in Australia Buyers Guide.

As you might know if you know me, I’m not one for shameless promotion posts but overall I’m really impressed with the product. I was initially skeptical of buying an ebook reader as I had a tendency to enjoy holding an actual book in my hands despite countless hours of reading things online.

But after completing a $45 purchase (one of many this year) from Bookdepository (the cheapest place to get books I’ve found), I decided it might be nice to check the price of the two books on the kindle. As it turned out, they were going to cost 50% less. Whilst this may not always be the case, it inspired me to look further into it.

Kindle 3 Review Australian Ebook reader

I did so and the latest generation Kindle 3 looked like a really solid piece of technology. I read regularly and often various books at a time so it did provide a nicer way to do so than carrying around 3 different books everyday in my bag.

The initial things I noticed about the product were that it was cheap (especially with the AUD-USD where it is), the books for sale were on it were cheap and that it got excellent reviews. Google “kindle reviews” to get an idea of these.

I decided on the wireless version over the 3g + wireless because I figured there won’t be a time when i can’t wait 10-20 minutes between work and home to download a book. That said, travelling and whether or not you read newspapers on the device (which you can easily) might have impacted this decision if i’d thought about it more. I’d probably get the 3G if i was making the decision now.

The product was quick to deliver (i think 4-5 days) and was easy to start using.

The main things I like about the kindle 3 are:

  1. The long battery life (30 days or so apparently)
  2. The fact I can highlight things in ebooks that I want to come back to or share with others (I’m one of those types that puts dog ears throughout my books – though rarely comes back to them)
  3. The selection of books (so far there has only been one title I couldn’t find that i wanted)
  4. The design, lightness and feeling when you read it
  5. The clarity of the text and resolution is very good
  6. The lack of a backlight makes it nicer on my eyes (which spend some much time in front of an LCD screen)

The things that I don’t like about the kindle 3 are that:

  1. It is not touchscreen and it’s navigation is a little clunky as a result but still very easy to use if a bit old school,
  2. Some of the formatting in complicated books like the spanish lessons book i’m reading is not perfect
  3. It doesn’t come with a case!

Overall, I’d recommend it strongly to anyone that reads alot. I’ve put a link below where you can get more information about the product. A more recent review of the kindle 3 is here : Why a Kindle 3 is better than “real books”.

Opinions are my own – mostly.