By Tom Dulaney, Contributing Reporter
Jeff Bezos says the Kindle is and always will be, first and foremost, a dedicated ebook reader. And he’s right, of course.
But here at Kindle Nation we have been aware of the appeal of other features ever since our publisher Steve Windwalker hit the Kindle Store bestseller list back in January 2008 with the first “ebook” on how to use the Kindle for email. (The short piece later became part of the #1 bestselling book in the Kindle Store for the entire calendar year 2008.)
So, the Kindle may not be the ultimate convergence device, but readers do a lot more than buy and read ebooks on their Kindles. However, no other feature of the dedicated ebook reading tool compares to the book reading function in either usage or performance ratings.
The Kindle’s many other features find use and favor with scattered blocks of the 2,275 people who responded to the Winter 2011 Kindle Nation Citizen Survey. Taken, together they are certainly part of the package of features that makes the Kindle the most popular ebook reader ever, and the most popular product ever sold by Amazon.
Presented here, arranged in order of usage and appeal with most popular first, are other Kindle features and our survey respondents’ ratings of them.
The three most popular non-ebook pastimes — newspaper reading, blog reading, and Kindles games — each come in with 35% to 36% of respondents.
Just over a third of respondents—a fraction under 36%–rated the Kindle for newspaper reading, and 8% say its performance is “superior” while 28% call it “useful, even if flawed.”
About the same percentage — 35% of respondents — subscribe to blogs that they read on their Kindles. About half of these Kindle Nation citizens read blogs nearly every day.
How well does the Kindle do in delivering blogs? Some 12% rate it as “superior” as a blog reader, while 20% find it “useful even if flawed” for a total of 32%. 57% of respondents saying blog reading is not important to them, 5% saying it’s a distraction, and 6% unaware of the feature.
Playing word games or using other Kindle apps and utilities occupies about 35% of readers, with 11% saying the use of such features on the device is “superior” while 24% say it is “useful even if flawed.” But 65% don’t play games for these reasons: 6% said “I was not aware of this feature,” 14% find gaming an annoyance or distraction; and 45% say it is just not important to them.
And one of our favorite features—sending personal documents and manuscripts to the Kindle—is used by 26% of all respondents, with 2% doing so daily, 6% weekly and 18% “sometimes.” About 21% said they were unaware of the feature, and 53% said they “rarely use” it.
Their ratings of the document reading feature: 25% find it useful even if flawed, and 9% rate the feature “superior.” About 53% said it was not important to them, 8% were unaware of the feature, and 5% found it a distraction.
The text-to-speech feature of the Kindle is used by a sizeable group of 25% of respondents, with 2% listening daily, 4% weekly and 19% “sometimes.” Two thirds—66%–say they use text-to-speech rarely. 8% call text-to-speech “superior” and 29% term it “useful if flawed.”
The Kindle gets significant use from owners checking email and browsing the web. In a question about usage, the survey combined email checking and web browsing. About 25% overall use the features, with 17% doing so “sometimes,” another 5% weekly, and 3% daily. And 56% said they rarely check email with their Kindles, while 19% were unaware that they could.
But that’s usage for email and web browsing. What about performance?
A second question broke out the Kindle’s two features: email and web browsing. For email, only 1% rate the Kindle “superior,” while 23% say it is “useful if flawed.”
As a web browser, only 2% rate the Kindle as “superior” as a web browser, and 28% call it “useful, if flawed.”
The survey combined two audio features to ask respondents how often they used their Kindles to listen to audiobooks and/or music. Some 12% listen to music or audiobooks on their Kindles, about half as many as text-to speech. About 1% listen daily, 3% listen weekly and 8 percent listen “sometimes.”