Having played with it for a couple weeks now, I can say definitively that the Kindle 2 is pretty darn cool. As far as the reading experience itself goes, I much prefer holding a lightweight device with a paper-like screen and flipping pages with the push of a button to holding a real book and flipping manually.
The really cool thing about the Kindle, though, is the infrastructure they've built up around it. With wireless service included in the cost of the device, it's incredibly easy to browse the online store, buy books, and read them without dealing with the hassle of downloading first to my computer and then synching files to the device via USB cable. I especially love that everything has free samples--the first chapter of books or the first two weeks of a magazine subscription--so I can get a better idea of what I'm spending my money on.
There are only two things that are holding me back from using the Kindle exclusively for all my reading. The first is that I'm not in the habit of buying books--generally I borrow from the library, and if I'm going to buy a book it's either that I can't get it at the library or that I like it so much that I think I'd like to lend it to friends in the future. Owning an electronic copy of a book negates the possibility of lending unless I want to lend out the whole Kindle, but for books I can't get at the library the Kindle is a great option. As it happens, I currently have a job that frequently gives me Amazon.com gift certificates, so getting in the habit of buying books is more economically feasible than it has been at other points in my life.
The second thing holding me back is that a good deal of my reading time is devoted to comic books, which are not largely available in Kindle format and even if they were, its black-and-white and just-a-little-too-small screen make the Kindle less than ideal for the medium. If Amazon or someone else were to produce a similar device with a larger screen in full color, though, I would love to see the world of monthly comic book publishing go digital. I likes me my new comics every Wednesday, but who needs boxes and boxes of old comics cluttering their house? If they were digital I'd always have them available, without the clutter.
For the time being I mainly use my Kindle for reading the two magazines I've subscribed to: The New Yorker and Narrative. I enjoy The New Yorker primarily for its fiction and Narrative is actually an online literary journal I could read for free on the web, but it's worth the three bucks a month to be able to read short stories when I'm, for example, watching my kids play on the playground, whereas I would never ever sit down at the computer to read those stories because I spend all day at a computer and when I have non-work-related computer time it's for writing my own fiction, thank you very much. Considering that what I write is prose and until a few weeks ago all I was reading was comics, I think it's a very good thing that the Kindle has got me reading prose again. And fairly good stuff, at that, as literary writing goes.
One of the things that excites me most about the Kindle is that I can load my own documents onto it. This means that when writer friends send me their novels to read, I can do so on my couch instead of at the computer, and that when, for example, I finish my current book and want Edgy to read it, I can send it to him electronically, he can make comments on it on his Kindle, then send it back and I can read those comments on mine. Trees around the world rejoice.