As we have been discussing ‘affordance’ this week, I think I will begin my blogging by looking at the Kindle e-reader and discussing the affordances it offers its users. The idea of getting an e-reader has been on my mind for the last two weeks or so which has prompted me to examine the device here. As I don’t actually own a Kindle, I will carry out the task of evaluating the affordances it provides by using information found online about the device and information I have been told about it.

E-readers are increasing in popularity;this is something that cannot be denied.  For the first time, this year saw Amazon clock up sales of e-books outnumbering those sold in print. Through my research carried out so far on the Kindle, I’m beginning to see why e-books are proving so popular. E-readers offer many affordances to their users. While most of the affordances I am going to talk about may apply to other e-reading devices, I will be speaking about them solely in relation to the Kindle.

In looking at the image below of the Kindle, it is obvious to see some of the affordances it offers. It is a small, portable device (weighing only 8.5 ounces), meaning  users are invited to use it whenever and wherever they choose.  This feature of convenience is hard to ignore. According to Amazon, the device is capable of holding up to 3,500 books. This affordance essentially allows a user to carry a substantial collection of books (in effect, a mini library) in their back pocket, all for less than the weight of a paperback book.

This particular Kindle model, unlike some other e-readers on the market is not touchscreen. I believe that this is another very useful affordance provided by the device. As much as I can appreciate the modernity of touchscreen and what it is capable of, I am wary of it and cannot fully trust in its longevity and thus far have avoided buying products with touchscreens. The option of having a qwerty keyboard, along with a immediately identifiable and usable ‘menu’and ‘home’ buttons, as well as a direction pad is also another affordance I believe this product offers. The result being easy and quick navigation and a  comforting sense of familiarity to those who are used to the qwerty keyboard.

I also like the fact that the e-reader device can be used in direct sunlight, as I can attest to the fact that direct sunlight, has been a problem with other technological devices I have owned (the Nintendo DS, for example). The device also allows for annotation: highlighting and notes may be added. Users may then search the device for all highlighted text. As an affordance, this is something that really appeals to me; I read most if not all of my readings for class on-screen and it is something that I am still adjusting to doing. I much prefer reading paper copies of class readings i.e. the ability to read material ‘flat-out’ i.e. in a horizontal manner as opposed to looking at it vertically, like from a computer screen. From what I can see, the Kindle provides affordances which result in the device achieving the closest possible way to doing this.

To sum up, the affordances offered by the Kindle are mainly concerned with providing various conveniences to the user, for example portability, flexibility, adaptability and personification.  From what I’ve seen from friends who own the device, it is intuitive, making it easy to navigate and use.

For fear of sounding like an overly pushy Kindle salesperson, I’m going to stop there. E-reader devices have been adapted and improved on ever since they first entered the market; Affordances have been added to subsequent devices and I have no doubt that this trend will continue and will be reflected in newer models in years to come.


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