Monday, November 19, 2007

The Amazon Kindle - Wave of the Future or Overpriced Tech-toy?

In this morning's "Around the Water Cooler" segment of Good Morning America, I learned about the new Amazon Kindle. It's concept isn't new -- it's a wireless reading device that can hold up to 200 books, can display current newspapers and can even connect you to over 250 blogs. It's a s thin as a pencil and only costs...$399.00!

Forgive me for saying so, but I like to be able to take my books on the train with me, throw them in my bag, hand them off to my friends when I am finished, and read them on the beach. I remember the e-reader craze of the early 2000s. They never caught on. What makes Amazon think that these e-readers will be different?

I may be old-fashioned, but I still like the idea that people can stroll into the library, produce a card they got for free, and have access to books. I like the fact that when my friend is finished with "the book that changed her life" she can hand it to me and not worry that her life-savings is suddenly in my possession.

I admit that the idea of Fringe readers downloading the latest issue to their e-reader to take with them on the bus or train appeals to me, but part of our manifesto states that we want to be accessible. Isn't that what online magazines and blogs are all about? You don't need anything but a public computer with Internet access in order to partake in the discussion. You certainly don't need $400.

What do you think? Would you carry one of these around as your exclusive reading material?


Anna Lena said...

I spend much of my work time in front of a screen, and one of the things I love about books is that they don't glow. Like a picture of your sweetheart, they're easy on the eyes. Though this "Kindle" is kinda cute, it cannot claim that distinction in my book (my figurative book, that is--and there's a big difference between that and a lil plastic thing with a screen).

Also, it would worry me to be using a device from the biggest bookseller in the country (world?) to read my books. Just my innate suspicion of monopoly, I guess.

ssaraswat said...

Part of the fun of books is passing it along to friends, dog-earing the pages, scribbling in the margins...I love the accessibility of the internet, but why can't we have both? Technology like the Kindle seems to exist only to get rid of paper. It just seems like another reason for small bookstores to shut down. I still believe that people like toting around books, and then proudly displaying them on their bookshelf when finished reading...Kindle definitely won't catch on...

Jill said...

While I think it's a cool idea, being able to download books at the touch of a button and even access blogs and online zines to read on the train, I know I'll always be loyal to books in their original form. It's such a thrill to buy that shiny new book, or even that falling-apart classic from the used bookstore. Also, sharing is a lot harder when you know that passing along your reader will inhibit your own reading. I love underlining words and sentences, starring favorite passages, sticking post-it flags in the margins--it's what makes my books mine. You just can't do that on a screen, no matter how much hype this thing gets.

I don't think these readers will catch on anytime soon, given that most people who would spend that kind of money on a gadget whose express purpose is reading would most likely be the same people who love to wander bookstores and libraries.