Wednesday, December 05, 2007


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 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.


Monica said...

i will never get one of those things. I want to have and hold and read books. i stare at enough screens as it is.

Urban Chick said...

i second that emotion. i will never get one of those things either. i love the feel and smell of a book.

Blog Antagonist said...

MMMM...I don't know. I think it has it's uses, but I think us die hard bibliophiles will never give up their books. Snuggling up in bed or in front of a fire with Kindle just isn't as appealing.

Plus? That name is just stupid.

Mom said...

Kindle? As in burn? As in, for instance, Fahrenheit 451??

Interesting, yes. But weird.

Monica said...

yeah the name is a serious question of judgement

Natalie said...

Monica- I don't think i will either but I know myself too well to never say never

Urban Chick- I totally agree books are the best.

BA- I would prefer a book any day. What I am wondering is how this will effect actual book production in the next 20yrs.

Mom- I never would have made that connection. It makes this thing even scarier.

Mom said...

One nice thing about a book is that, once you buy it, you have it. An electronic book is yours only as long as you have a technological gadget that can display it. When the gadget-makers "upgrade" their product, you will probably have to buy a new gadget. Just like all the wonderful kids' software I have at home that won't run on modern computers -- such a shame, how ephemeral these creative works (the software) have turned out to be! Thus goes the modern dance of planned obsolescence. It's kind of obscene.

Anonymous said...

"The revolution is now." No shit. iPrepare you for a post of mine tomorrow - shockwaves.

hey check out my ost on the kindle, its more versitile than you think. Andy ihnako, a geek writer for the sun-times likes it more than the iphone, he is a serious dude, so for him to say that is incredible. i guess it comes with free internet service, yeah, free.

iHeard you liked "Ghost dad, maybe that's out on paperback for the kindle. ihear it comes with a tissue dispenser.

Sling said...

I don't have an mp3 player,or even a cell phone,so I don't think I'll be getting a kindle..There is something about holding a book,that may have been passed down from loved ones that you cant get from a machine.

dmarks said...

Natalie, one secret about the thing is that it has a free nationwide wireless broadband. With the keyboard and browser, it makes it into an Internet terminal you can use anywhere.

Mom: What is it that had software that won't run on modern computers?

Red7Eric said...

My first thought is, "will it give me a headache? Because I know that if I'm stuck to my computer for more than three hours, I start to feel tiny little jackhammers right above my eyeballs and that $#!t ain't pretty.

Also ... I love my iPod too, but sometimes I buy the CD and then upload it to iTunes because I want to hold it in my hand and see the cover art (the main reason why the death of the LP 12" record was oh so very sad). I think it might be the same with books I love.

Maybe in 50 years, you'll be able to download the cover art -- and you'll be able to purchase "old book smell" for your Kindle to emit whenever it's in use. On second thought, that's kind of gross.

Anonymous said...

I must confess, I'm having a wee bit of a geekgasm about this. Still, I don't think it will be that drastic. After all, one can still get records - and no mp3 gadget will ever sound as rich and alive as vinyl. (?) You know what I mean. Also, I will never actually purchase this thing. Not only is it waaaay out of my budget, but I am - at heart - too much of a romantic to give up the smell, feel, taste (?) of books. Remember those scratch-and-sniff kids books in the 80's? Oh how I adored them.

Katrina said...

Yep, I have to say that I don't think I'd ever buy a Kindle. I also can't say never but I don't believe I will.

Love, love, love books too much.

Mom said...

dmarks -- Any software that was developed before about 1997 is likely to have trouble running on today's hardware. Maybe someone could find a way to make it work, but I lack the skills and Dad hasn't messed with it much. We have a large library of software from the "early days". I'm especially interested in the kids' software -- stuff Natalie and her sister played with when they were little, and also my library of MECC software; I worked for MECC -- the folks who made The Oregon Trail -- in the 1990s. I still have an Apple // GS that I keep to run some of the old stuff. I need to get my Mac Powerbook (which I maintained with OS 8.5) repaired so I can run some more. And I have asked Dad to set me up with a "retro" PC (maybe Windows 97?) to run the rest.

I like the idea of being able to pass kids' stuff (toys, books, games) down from one generation to the next. I hated having to buy my kids things that I had had as a kid but that had been given away over the years. (Sure, someone got to use them, but it wasn't my kids.) With the kids' software, there's a lot of fun and creativity in those products! Plus a ton of legacy and history. It bugs me to think it's all being lost in our planned-obsolescence, throwaway culture.

I also worry about things like family photos, which everyone keeps in digital format these days. What happens a few decades from now? Will those file formats still be usable on next-next-next-generation gadgets? Who knows... Yah, sure we can print them out (although no one does) -- but those inks are expected to fade a lot faster than old photos used to.

OK, end of rant.

Natalie said...

Mom- You have it with the gadget because it stores what you buy on their server. If something happens to that though, maybe you are out of luck. Change in what something will run is an idea I hadn’t thought of though.

Ryan- Shut up about Ghost Dad, Bill Cosby had the saddest look ever on his face in this one shot.

Sling- I totally agree, maybe people will start passing down machines.

Dmarks- Yeah the free wireless is an insanely awesome feature.

Red7Eric- The screen is apparently some kind of fancy thing that looks exactly like a page from a book nad isn’t like a typical screen at all. Purchasing old book smell is the nastiest thing ever.

Auld hat- Yeah the geekgasm is totally understandable. Scratch and sniff books are totally gross. Remember how pickle smelled?

Katrina- That is exactly how I feel. I just don’t know if I can never say never

Mom- I know what you mean. It is a total bummer not being able to play some of those super fun games in their original state. What I wouldn’t give to play Hero from the Commodore 64.