I have been reading the Times on Kindle for about three weeks. I was in South Africa during that time and liked getting the Times each morning. However, at times I found the presentation difficult to follow and felt that the experience was somehow inadequate. So today, 18th January 2011, after returning to the UK, I compared the physical newspaper to the Kindle version.
I accept that the Kindle will look different from the physical newspaper but my review revealed that the Kindle version is dramatically inferior. The newspaper editors have organised the paper in a way that they believe will be logical to the reader and easiest to follow. The individual compiling the Kindle version has no such interest or care.
The Kindle presentation is, of necessity, a sequence of articles. In the paper there may be a main topic with subsidiary articles providing more information or a different slant. In Kindle the subsidiary articles are sometimes presented first without the reference point of the main article e.g. the article in the Sports section entitled `Man who created the monster has no regrets' is preceded by two subsidiary articles called `How game has piled on the pounds' and `The players who set the weekly-wage benchmarks'. The subsidiary articles do not mean as much until one has read the main article.
Articles in Kindle generally follow the order that they are in the paper but many are in a completely different order. Articles that are grouped together on the same page of the paper because of a logical connection are sometimes separated by many other articles. So on pages 6 and 7 there are four articles all linked to David Cameron. In Kindle these four articles are separated by seven other unrelated articles. The four articles on Tunisia on pages 10 and 11 are spread all over Kindle. Hugo Rifkind's Notebook of three articles and David Wighton's five business commentary articles should be respectively grouped together in Kindle but are not.
A disgrace is that twenty eight articles that are in one section in the paper are in a different section in Kindle. I noticed the following:
2 articles in the paper in the Opinion section appear in the Kindle News section
2 articles in the paper in the Business section appear in the Kindle News section
3 articles in the paper in the Sport section appear in the Kindle News section
8 articles in the paper in the Business section appear in the Kindle Features section
1 article in the paper in the You, the editor section appears in the Kindle Letters section
1 article in the paper in the Happy Birthday section appears in the Kindle Letters section
9 articles in the paper in the Daily Universal Register section appear in the Kindle Letters section
1 article in the paper in the News section appears in the Kindle Sport section
1 article in the paper in the Law report section appears in the Kindle Obituaries section
There is no logic to the reclassification of articles from Opinion, Business and Sport to News. It was very confusing to find eight business articles in Features. `You, the editor' and `Happy Birthday' are distinctly different articles at the bottom of the Letters page in the paper but should not be classified in the Letters section in Kindle. The layout of The Daily Universal Register in the paper does not translate easily into the Kindle format but if it was in its own section in Kindle it would be far more understandable than being in Letters. It is appalling that the main article on the plans of an exiled leader to return to Tunisia in the News Section of the paper is in Sport in Kindle and that the Law Report in the paper is in Obituaries in Kindle. This appears to me to be sloppy work by the Kindle editor.
The author of an article is often important. In the paper the author's title or position and, often, their photograph helps the reader to identify the author. In Kindle their name stands alone without any helping identifiers.
It is possible that the paper edition might have been produced earlier in the night than the Kindle edition. That probably explains why there are six articles in Kindle which I can not find in the paper and why the text of some articles differs somewhat and in one case presents a completely different, but presumably, updated version of the news . It does not explain why none of the six articles on page 12 of the paper are in Kindle. I also can't find two articles in Business and one in Sport in the paper in Kindle.
There appears to be no technical reason why photos cannot be included in Kindle. There are, however, only two in this edition in Kindle. Those do not include the most meaningful photos of Justin Webb and his father Peter Woods. I did not recognise the names but recognised the photos so the article made so much more sense in the paper. In the same vein the photos in the Obituaries in the paper are missing from Kindle but are often useful to help identify the person to the reader. The article in T2 `Who cares who won?' is meaningless in Kindle without the photos of the women being discussed.
The Kindle format is far more limiting than the paper format but little effort seems to have been expended by the Kindle editor in helping the reader. Many articles have additional information or comment in boxes or different colours. In Kindle these are just added to the end of the article without their different nature being identified. It should be simple to underline or embolden a heading to make it clear that this text is not just a continuation of the article. A strip of eleven boxes along the top of the Tunisia page entitled `Independence to Insurrection' provides useful information in date order. In Kindle this information is confusing, especially as it is nowhere near the main article. Some large articles in the paper have quotes from the article in blank spaces on that page probably to draw your attention to the article. These quotes are just added to the end of the article in Kindle which is both useless and confusing. Better to drop them completely. In the Letters section, letters on the same subject run into each other where a simple line space between them would clearly show that they are different letters, albeit on the same subject.
Probably because of the difference in formats the following items in the paper are not in Kindle:
1. Most photos
3. Graphics which are useful like
a. map of location of possible new London airport
b. the timeline which takes up most of the space in the Airbus article
c. the graphics in the `Players who set the weekly wage benchmark' article
4. Weather maps
5. Weather tables
6. The Markets table
7. Business Markets table
8. Equity prices and Unit Trusts tables
9. Births, Marriages and Deaths
10. Legal Notices
11. Public Notices
12. Horse racing schedule
13. Horse racing results
14. Times Crossword
15. TV and Radio schedule
17. Mind Games including Chess, Bridge, Su Doku, other crosswords and games
18. Advertisements including product recalls, Times+, travel, Entertainments, Times subscription offer, The Times Christmas Charity Appeal, Business to Business, new dedicated law section to be included in the paper and normal advertisements for products and services
With some effort many of the above items could be edited or formatted so as to make sense in Kindle. I see that there is now an iPad app for the Crossword but not for Kindle. Advertisers are losing out because interesting advertisements are not getting to Kindle readers. If formatted properly they could make sense in Kindle and could either be included in the run of articles (as one can tab through the advertisement if it is not interesting) or included in a section of their own at the end.
I did not monitor the time that the Kindle edition arrived but it seemed to be before 08h00 London time each morning.
I accept that some features of the paper will never be replicated adequately in Kindle. But I believe that many deficient aspects of the current Kindle edition could be improved or included with a little bit of planning and care of the Kindle editor at The Times. If you are in a foreign country or an invalid in the UK, who cannot get to the shop, then the current Kindle edition of The Times will give you the main stories. But until The Times improves the support they give to their Kindle edition I recommend that UK based readers should not subscribe to the inferior Times edition on Kindle.