I have got to weight in on this thing that is Kindle. As a book and gadget lover, I am both excited and horrified by this product. In case you didn’t know, Kindle is a wireless device developed y Amazon.com that can download and store up to 200 books from a database of 90,000. It can also receive magazine and newspaper subscriptions. Kindle is about the size of a standard paperback and has a very high resolution and quite readable screen. Downloads take about one minute. I hear that the color resolution isn’t the best but unless you are reading science or children’s books that probably won’t be much of an issue. You can download first chapters of books for free and the most expensive titles are $9.99.
As a gadget this thing is pretty awesome. Sure the price tag is a little high ($399) but, like most gadgets that will very likely lower in the next few years. Kindle has a reported battery life of about 6 hours and that is extended if you turn the wireless features off. It fully recharges in two hours, which is a little long but could be much worse. It is light and thin and uses cell phone networks so you don’t’ have to be in a wi-fi hotspot to download your materials and it doesn’t have any wireless charges. You can even email yourself files for reading anything you wrote or some business type stuffs on the go. Everything you purchased is stored online so if you needed to clear space for a particular book you won’t be deleting something forever. You can click on a word you don’t know and look it up instantly. You’ll never need to bookmark a page, Kindle remembers
So why does it scare me? The answer is simple. I think we may be witnessing the downfall of the printed page. Any avid reader knows there is something about holding a book in your hand. You turn the pages and new stories unfold. As you read you can measure your progression by how many pages have moved from one side of the book to the other. You can tell how loved a book is by the creases in its binding and the notes scribbled in the margins (if you write in your books like I do). All of this is impossible with a machine. Well all except the notes, you can make annotations with this thing too.
Remember the smell of old books? Cherish it. In two generations it may be gone. I will always remember the smell of Happiness is a Warm Puppy. I don’t know if they used some kind of special paper or what but no other book I have ever read has smelled that way. Think of the way libraries look, both at home and in the public. The bookshelf could become an obsolete piece of furniture. There is a lot at stake here. Sure we love our books now but what about the kids who grow up with these things. How much cheaper would getting your books for college be with one? In 20 years how hard will it be to buy a real book?
I can’t promise I will never go digital. This product looks pretty amazing. I didn’t understand how awesome mp3 players were for years but my iPod has changed my life. Kindle could do the same thing for books that mp3 players have done for CDs. Who am I to say this is a bad thing? I can’t go into the bookstore and buy a brand new book for $9.99. I am safe for now because not only are they expensive but they are sold out on Amazon. Not to mention that the thought of having one kind of makes me want to vomit. The revolution is now.