The Kindle 2 arrived at my house. It’s a lot bigger than I had expected — see it here with an ordinary purse-sized organizer for comparison.

It’s quite flat, too, and seems delicate, though I guess it must not be. I notice that amazon offers a $65 extended warranty for this creature, which only takes it to two years. An item this pricey ought, it seems to me, to plan on lasting for more than two years.

I didn’t pay for it at all. That isn’t going to stop me from looking the gift horse in the mouth enough to do a proper review of it, though.

The essential first thing to say about it is that you can read it very well — as Amazon promises, you very quickly get caught up in the book you’re reading, and the Kindle doesn’t intrude. Once you get the navigation figured out (and there is a user’s guide, though I’ll admit that I didn’t use it beyond looking at the diagram showing what the buttons were for), it’s no more trouble to read the Kindle than to read a book — you turn the pages with one press of a button, and said button is in a handy spot on both sides, so I think it would be fine for lefthanded folks, too.

This is absolutely the solution for how to read and knit at the same time. No question.

It’s also good for carrying around, though I think you’ve got to have a case to protect it. I’m going to try it at the gym, too — I bet it’s perfect for the treadmill. And if you were stuck in an airport, you’d not only be glad to have something to read, but the fact that you can instantly download books is a huge plus. You can access the Kindle Store with the Kindle, they’ll send you samples from the 250,000 books they’ve got Kindleized, and if you have one-click ordering set up, you can have your book within minutes.

I got The Geek’s Guide to World Domination by accident, since I thought I was asking for more details. The Kindle doesn’t operate like a computer or like a phone, so you have to get used to it a bit. I kept expecting to be able to touch the screen or to use the keyboard (that’s for you to annotate books, which is pretty cool), and really it’s more like a video game. It did give me a chance, though, to say it was an accident and take back my order. I didn’t, since I wanted to try it out, and the book is quite fun.

Here’s the negative part, so far. I would have liked to share with you some of the interesting philosophical questions in The Geek’s Guide, or at least some of the witty bits, but there doesn’t seem to be any handy way to leaf through books or to go to a particular place or anything like that. You have to start at the beginning and go on to the end. This makes it just the thing for reading novels and stuff like that, but perhaps not so good for other kinds of books. But I may just not have figured it out yet.

I took a free trial of the Wall Street Journal as well. You can have free trials of all kinds of newspapers, and they are way cheap to subscribe too, as well, and of course it saves paper. Since I don’t normally read newspapers start to finish, my first day with the medium wasn’t completely satisfying, but I’ll keep you posted on that.

You can also sub to A-list bloggers for 99 cents a month, or just rotate your trial subs I guess. I am trialing Overheard in the Office, which I think Chanthaboune would really like. And there are magazines as well.

Prices for stuff to read are sort of a mixed bag. 99 cents for things that are free online is a little charge for convenience, in case the Kindle is more convenient for you than the internet. Newspapers are much cheaper than IRL. Books are $9.99. This is a good bit less than a new hardcover, but a good bit more than waiting for the paperback and of course lots more than Booksfree or the library or used books. I wish you could just rent books for the Kindle rather than buying them, actually. There’s room in the Kindle for 1500 books, they say, so it doesn’t matter that you own them, and you might want to read them again some day, but since it doesn’t seem to be very good for reference, I’d rather rent a book for a week for a few dollars than have to shell out ten bucks for something I can only read straight through.

I’m hoping that as I become more adept (and who knows? perhaps I’ll read the manual), I’ll discover that it’s possible to navigate well through books and newspapers after all.