Wednesday, March 4

I ducked.

One would think that having a new kindle2 and going to a book group would mean a show-and-tell. Alas, not the case. I had brought my kindle, in its gorgeous ultrasuede cover, but it stayed in my purse.

We even talked about kindles. Someone brought them up, someone else mentioned a Seattle Times article than "panned them." The career bookseller was pleased to hear that. (It didn't, not really.) Her livelihood is at stake. But most people had never seen a kindle and no one had seen a kindle 2. One person mentioned that a little wistful. But I was too chicken to get controversial. Little did they know they were about four feet away from one. The negative things they said about the kindle? Most of them weren't true.

Face it. Kindle or its competitors will change bookselling. And in some ways, it's about time. Sorry about that, but times change. There will still be a market for bricks and mortar bookstores, for real live booksellers, at least in the near future, but the times are changing.

  • Like holding a book in your hands? Well, actually I don't. I find my hands hurt after too long holding a book open. And some books are heavy and awkward to hold. A kindle is like getting ergonomic bars on your bicycle. All of a sudden, many other hand positions are available and no more cramping.
  • Multi-tasking. I like to knit, but that cuts into my reading time. I thought audiobooks would be the thing, but they aren't always appropriate. I can read a children's chapter book (big print) and knit, as long as the spine is already broken on the book. With the kindle, my reading while knitting options open up wide.
  • No backlight? I love the fact that it doesn't have a light! It's easy on the eyes, easy on the power consumption, all around a win. I am fine with greyscale. Color is over rated.
  • Weight of books. Several people mention being able to take lots of books on vacation, not running out if the plane is delayed. I also see this as the future of textbooks. My teen's backpack is lethal. There's no reason he should be carrying around all that weight all day. (sure there are lockers, but not enough for everyone and not enough time between bells to utilize it anyway.) Just think if all or most all textbooks were e-books. A savings all round.
  • Formatting pdfs and blogs and newspapers. So it's a work in progress. I downloaded the free sample first chapter of my graduate school Algebra text to see how it handled the symbols and it was fine. I haven't tried a knitting pattern yet. I expect some will be frustrating, some might be fine.
  • Not being able to share or resell books? I suspect that's a work in progress as well.
Carbon footprint? Saving paper, of course, but it does cost resources to make the e-reader. Saving trucking costs getting books to stores. Just thinking textbooks alone: My son carries at least 10 pounds of textbooks every day. So, 10 pounds by one million kids by 5 mile average round trip commute is using fossil fuels to carry 50 million pound-miles every school day. Account for absences etc and say 150 days a year. How much gas does it take to move 3.75 million tons of weight a year? (note, my numbers are very back-of-envelope.) I know laptops were supposed to be the end of carrying heavy backpacks, but that hasn't happened. I like that the e-reader has limited net access. I don't want a full bells and whistles browser, because I don't want the distraction and temptation. It's not going to happen tomorrow, but it will happen. And sooner than some suspect. Now I just have to get up enough nerve to admit my purchase to diehard book fans. I'll think about that tomorrow. Tomorrow is another day.


Erika said...

My personal prejudice is that the people who say "Oh but I love the feel of the book in my hands, and the smell of the paper, and blah de blah" are secretly thinking, "But if I read a Kindle in public, how am I supposed to show off my clever reading choices?"

Plus you have to throw in a dash of knee-jerk reactionary DO NOT WANT. Honestly people, no one is forcing you to use a Kindle. Just because they exist, that doesn't mean there will be NO BOOKS EVER AGAIN.

I probably wouldn't have whipped out my Kindle, either. Owning one doesn't oblige you to serve as a stand-alone FAQ kiosk for all the baggage people bring to a discussion about it.

Anonymous said...

I am ambivalent about the Kindle. I get 95% of my books from the library, i.e., free. They would be $10 a pop on a Kindle, or >$100 a year. I already spend $252/year to subscribe to for audio books; do I want to spend more when I am happy right now as a library patron?

I just read somewhere just this week something that sums this up: Amazon is realizing that it is not in the printed-matter business, it is in the reading matter business. Its business model may be transforming into the Gillette model: sell the razor/Kindle for cheap (Amazon has a ways to go with this part) and reap the benefits by selling razor blade/ebooks... forever.

Anonymous said...

This is neat. I had to stop reading The Pillars of the Earth because it hurts my hands/arms to hold.

Love the duck!

ttyl, sis! T

Anonymous said...

Very true. I have a Kindle 2 also, it was a gift, and I know it's going to change my relationship with books. The lack of weight and bulk of Kindle 2 over books is an enormous difference and the difference it'll make for college students--wow.

Lavendersheep said...

After reading your post I looked again at the Kindle2. I like a lot of the things you have talked about.

Actually I was wondering if I could ask your opinion? I was wondering how it would work for older people. I was thinking specifically for my grandmother. She is fairly technologically challenged. However, I really think it would be wonderful because she has Rheumatoid Arthritis and has a hard time holding things up and because she is older she prefers large text books. Do you think that the interface would be too difficult for an older person?

Anonymous said...

I'm too cheap to (a) buy a Kindle, and (b) buy the content. But I'm a librarian at a large university and I live in a town with two damn good public libraries. I can get any book I want either immediately, or within a few days thru ILL. Can you get used Kindle books for $1?

Some public libraries may be experiementing with lending Kindles. I don't know how the content would work.

A couple women in my book group have Kindles, but the rest of us are still analog.

cousin jane said...

Anonymous (above) is actually Cousin Jane.