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Customer Review

138 of 145 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars DO NOT GET THE KINDLE VERSION, March 13, 2014
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This review is from: Chineasy: The Easy Way to Learn Chinese (Kindle Edition)
I've seen the author's Ted Talk and followed the crowd funding for this book. I really wanted to like it. However, the Kindle version of the book is designed for art, not for functionality (reading).

It is virtually impossible to read on a tablet because of the small print (and inability to increase the size), the colors used (example, dark orchid background for small black font), and the navigation. Tried to read it in the alternative on my computer. No dice.

I've purchased several hundred Kindle books in the past couple of years. This is the first one for which I've requested a refund.

If they fix the electronic version, I'll also remove this Kindle review upon request.

In short, avoid the Kindle version like the plague. The print edition should be fine (knock on wood). If I get the print edition, I'll update this review to address the content.


March 20, 2014 Update.

I purchased the print edition and have taken the time to go through it before writing this update.

The substance of the book is good. However, the design gets in the way of using it for its intended purpose - learning Chinese characters.

It's clear after seeing both the Kindle and print editions that the Kindle edition consists of imaged pages from the print edition rather than doing formatting for the Kindle. For that, the person in charge of layout for the Kindle should be sent to the woodshed with a dunce cap.

Unfortunately, the printed pages suffer from some of the same issues that afflict the Kindle. Specifically, the many pages with dark-colored backgrounds with small black font are difficult to read. In some cases, it requires taking the book to different lighting or using a magnifying glass to figure out what's written.

In other words, the purpose of learning Chinese characters is actually frustrated by the author's efforts as an artist.

In short, here's my rating unless and until the book is fixed.

0 Stars for the Kindle edition. It's horrible.
3 Stars for the Print edition if you want to actually learn the characters.
5 Stars for the Print edition if you want a colorful book to put on the coffee table to impress friends but have no intention of actually learning Chinese characters.
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Showing 1-5 of 5 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Mar 22, 2014 7:09:32 AM PDT
Tobie Dixon says:
Have you tried Tuttle's "Learning Chinese Characters"? (Link: Tuttle Learning Chinese Characters: (HSK Levels 1 -3) A Revolutionary New Way to Learn and Remember the 800 Most Basic Chinese Characters )

I thought it's a pretty good book and was ripped off (maybe not intentionally) by Hsueh.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 23, 2014 8:01:54 PM PDT
Latewood says:
J. Lau, Thank you for taking the time to write this helpful comment. It so illustrates the practicality of this wonderful online review system. I followed your link and used the "look inside" feature to check out the book. It appears to be a book that I'd find helpful. I'm 65 and learning Mandarin as more or less a hobby and mental stimulation. I'll take all the help I can get.

Posted on Mar 23, 2014 8:08:45 PM PDT
Latewood says:
Mr. Young, Thank you for your critical and helpful review. Too many "reviewers" write unhelpful and unsupported diatribes with an ill-concealed hidden agenda. You laid out your reasoning in a respectful, clearly-written manner. See also my reply to J. Lau's post. I came to this site after seeing a review of this book in the current edition of THE ECONOMIST.

In reply to an earlier post on May 18, 2014 10:07:15 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 18, 2014 10:09:17 AM PDT
Frequenter says:
Thank you very much, Mr. (Ms.?) Lau!
Tuttle's "Learning Chinese Characters..." was a find. :-)

Posted on May 18, 2014 10:36:22 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 18, 2014 10:38:30 AM PDT
Frequenter says:
Dear Mr.Young,
Thank you for your review! I was thinking about getting a paper copy of Chineasy. I also checked up the other book recommended by Mr.(/Ms. - ? :-) ) J. Lau on this page and it looks pretty good, too. It seems to me that when one studies languages like Chinese, one book will not be enough any way. Chineasy seems to be colorful and fun; it gives additional variants of associating characters with images and it this helpful. There will always be competition and similar products on the market; often they supplement each other in a nice way.

As for the form of materials, I figured out a couple years ago that for practicing, staring at pictures, making bookmarks, notes, and highlighting, nothing can really substitute real books for me - they are just more convenient to work with. Kindle versions have a number of limitations. They are good reading fiction, for example, and you can constantly carry a whole library in a little gadget if you are a fervent reader. A year ago I bought my first electronic manual for Kindle because the price of the paper copy was significantly higher in comparison with the Kindle version, and then I was so frustrated with it that I promised to myself to never fall for that again. Along with all this I found that only black-and-white Kindle with e ink doesn't strain my eyes, although missing all the colors would be crucial in many cases - like the one we are discussing here, where color-coding is important.

Well, I hope the book is still serving you! :-) Yet I am sure that ShaoLan Hsueh will develop and app eventually.
Thanks again!
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