Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Amazon's Kindle

During yesterday's discussion of Hardback books, Chris at Book-a-Rama mentioned the Kindle. Then, surprisingly enough, my father-in-law called me to ask me about it. First of all, you have to understand that my father-in-law is a man of the digital age. He MUST try all the new "gadgets" that come out. He's the first person in the neighborhood to have the "in" thing. From state-of-the-art computer equipment to LCD TV's; from portable DVD players to iPhones, he's the first in line.

Now, he knows my interest in reading. And I'm not really sure if he was hinting around for Christmas and my birthday, trying to find something I would love. (maybe for him and my husband to go in together). I really hope not. Because I'd hate to disappoint him. But I thought I'd do a little research, so I could at least be able to discuss it with him.

Amazon's Kindle is an e-Reader. It's actually pretty slick. It will hold up to 200 books, has wireless access so you can subscribe to newspapers and magazines, and even has a built-in dictionary. You can shop directly to Amazon from the Kindle and purchase the books you would like. At the moment, they have 88,000 books available in a Kindle format. The screen utilizes a "a new high-resolution display technology called electronic paper, Kindle provides a crisp black-and-white screen that resembles the appearance and readability of printed paper." It will even display pictures, if the book has illustrations. The price of the Kindle is $399, and the price of the books range from $5.49 - $9.99.

But will all the bells and whistles be enough to pull in readers? That is indeed the question that Jeff Bezos of Amazon would like to know, since this is a huge gamble for him. But does Bezos really understand book readers? I don't think so.

Reading is a personal experience. Maybe I'm the weird one, but I LOVE the feel of a book in my hands. I love the smell of a new book. I love the sensation of the crisp pages as I'm turning them, anxious to see the words on the next page. And I love being able to go to the bookstore or the library and browse the endless bookshelves filled with stories.

To me, an e-Reader of any kind is just impersonal, despite all the handy perks. I realize the portability is main factor, and that is the one thing that really appeals to me. (This said, after I hauled a huge bookbag through the airport this past summer!) It would be nice to carry around a personal library with me, everywhere I go. I'd never be without something to read. Is this enough for me to actually want or buy one? I don't think so.

This is just who I am. I really don't care if I don't have a high-definition TV. Is it important for surround sound to be playing when I'm watching a movie? Not particularly. Hell...I still listen to vinyl! In the movie Live Free or Die Hard, the bad guy described John McClane as a "Timex watch in a Digital Age", and I can relate!! That is how I feel sometimes. Would I like one of the new Kindles? Not really. I can think of much better ways to spend $400!! So if you see my father-in-law, be sure to tell him that a $400 gift card to B&N would make me much happier!! Yippi-kay-ay......

21 comments:

DesLily said...

I like this Kindle..but the price is too high when I'd use it but not to replace my reading habits! But in this house it would get used since my brother is disabled and can't hold and turn pages, and I'd use it the few times I travel .. but the competition is already afoot, as they say.. Sony has a digital reader out for 100.00 less! Sony! They are generally more expensive! Google Sony digital reader and check it out.

Stephanie said...

Deslily - I think it's rather snazzy, but I just don't see myself with one. Kudos to anyone that would use it, though. And especially for your brother.

Amy said...

I'm with you. I love the feel and smell of books and I even love seeing the books I love lined up on a shelf. It might be cool for travel but the price kind of prohibits such limited use.

Stephanie said...

Amy - And what do you do when you reach 200 books? Just start deleting?? And yes, the price is WAY too much for me!

kookiejar said...

As much as I love the idea of being able to carry 200 books around with me at all times, I have to agree that I can't give up the feeling of turning pages, or the sight of all the lovely books lining my walls.

jenclair said...

I want the book, the cover, the pages, the classic idea of book. I'm not exactly a Luddite, but there are certain patterns too ingrained to mess with.

Stephanie said...

Kookie - It would be pretty cool. Agreed. But the amount of money to GET it to 200 books. At $9.99 a book? That's almost $2000! Sheesh.

Jenclair - I totally agree with you! I've been reading books forever. That love will never change.

Chris said...

I agree. I don't think I'll be getting one at that price. I could probably get a ton of books at that price.

It wouldn't be a bad idea if I traveled but I don't.

Stephanie said...

Chris - the portability with it is great. Just so expensive. And like I said, not really my thing!

Debi said...

Oh, I could not agree with you more! I want the printed words in my hands. I can definitely see how some people would just love it, but I honestly don't think I'd get one even if it only cost 20 bucks. Besides, what would I decorate my home with if we didn't have all these books?!!

Stephanie said...

Debi - Amen, Sister!!

Chris said...

I'm right with you! I'd MUCH rather have $400 to spend on REAL books! Just think of all the books you could buy with 400 bucks *evil grin*

Lisa said...

Gotta have the real thing in my hands. I probably wouldn't use it if someone gave it to me. I've tried reading online from some of the free sites that have public domain titles and just can't do it.

Amy said...

Thanks for your thoughts on this new eReader, Stephanie - I use my Palm as an eReader occasionally but still carry around a real live book most all the time! I think the price of eReaders are too high and what about when the eReader runs out of battery life??? Pause your reading to recharge or sit by the nearest outlet???

Melody said...

I'm with you, Stephanie! I love the feel and smell of books; and going to the bookstores is always a joy to me. I can't imagine myself reading with that gadget, although it looks pretty cool to me.

Nymeth said...

I completely understand how you feel, Stephanie. I don't think e-books can replace real books for me, just like mp3s haven't replaced real albums. But on the other hand, I do think they are the future. Deforestation is becoming more and more serious, and it's quite possible that in 50 years paper will have become a rare good. If it's still used to make books at all, they will be extremely pricey, and e-books will be the only option.

I don't know, I hope I'm wrong. I don't like the idea, but if I had to switch to e-books to help save trees, I would try my best to get used to it.

I agree that $400 is an absurd price, though. But, as with most things, I think it will go down in time.

MyUtopia said...

I just don't see myself reading books from a machine. It is a novel idea (pun intended), but it isn't the same thing as holding a book.

jean pierre said...

i'm totally with you on this kindle-thing. while it is definitely cool i still prefer to have a book in my hand - in the same way that i prefer to buy cds or dvds...

Sam Houston said...

I'm a bit like your father-in-law in that I love the latest gadgets and usually buy them while they are still at their most expensive...just can't wait.

I own one of the Sony Readers and I do use it regularly in instances where it is easier to tote the little reader than it is to carry several books with me. But, that said, an electronic reader will never replace the real thing for me. Books are meant to be held and pages are meant to be turned. That's just part of the whole reading experience.

But the Sony Reader is kind of a crutch that I use from time to time. It's great for "emergency reading" in lines or traffic or when I find myself without a real book in tow...seldom as that might be. Mainly it's a substitute that I enjoy because of its portability...and long, long battery life.

Erin said...

I'm the same way, I'm holding on to the older time with the feel of a good book in the hands, with the shiny covers, creasing edges, wonderful paper smell...Blah on technology!

hanum said...

It's awesome gadget, cool. I like it ;)