Kindle-ing the Fire?

Posted: November 20, 2007 in Hot Book News

kindle.jpg

I hate to say it, but this things sounds kind of… kind of… Cool. I’m as much pro book as the next person, in fact, I’m more so than most. The litany of book-related things I’ve done grows almost daily, and I make no secret about my passionate love of books. But this new e-book device is the first one I’ve seen that makes my “One-click” finger twitch. It hasn’t ordered the thing, but it is twitching.

I didn’t want to be converted, and I’m not saying I am yet, but I’ve been reading about this device in a few places. Of course, the Amazon site makes it sound like a work of perfection handed down by the gods. They would, now, wouldn’t they… They’re the ones who are financially invested in this thing. Other places haven’t been quite as glowing. One review I read yesterday slammed the thing, saying it’s doomed from the get-go since people won’t spend $ 400 for it. That is a pretty hefty outlay of cash, but it also includes lifetime wi-fi. When you think about it like that, well… It’s not so bad.

The Kindle supposedly emulates the printed page better than any electronic unit to date. I haven’t seen it, so I can’t speak to that. The reviews say it eliminates the issue of eye strain, a common complaint from those who read computer screens for extended periods of time (see: Guidarini, Lisa).

I wish I’d have been picked to test this unit. Heretical though it is, it does sound like a compelling little contraption. But will it threaten the book? Now that I don’t see, especially considering Amazon comes out and tells us the price for this unit won’t be decreasing. The cost is prohibitive. You can buy books one at a time, or borrow them through your library, and pace your spending. Forking out $ 400, then having to pay $ 10 per book for the e-books is a lot more sobering than plunking down the $ 30 for a hardback book at Borders.

But cool? Yeah, it has that factor. If you read the marketing blurbs you’ll see what I mean. It has a lot of neat capabilities.

Still, it’s an electronic unit, and not a paper and glue book. I’m still pretty fond of those paper and glue units. You can’t replace the feel of them, the smell of them, the satisfaction of turning the page, and the wonderful sound that makes. That sound lulls me. It has since I was little, and my mother used to read to me almost every night. Equally satisfying is having bookshelves, with rows of beautiful spines and cover art to admire. You can’t run your hand down the spine of an electronic contraption. It’s not the same thing.

The aesthetic beauty of the printed book is a thing removed from any electronic device. That’s what Jeff Bezos, and the other investors, either don’t get or don’t care about, if it means making more money. As a companion to the printed book, the Kindle sounds great. But don’t be looking to push the book into extinction or those of us with a vested interest will have to start an uprising. Now, that’s a promise.

At $ 400 a crack, I don’t think we need start the revolution just yet. My prediction is this thing will ultimately fail, just like all the other e-book readers have before it. The sticking point will continue to be the price, and those who truly love books and reading, and are passionate about the subject, will keep buying books.

If you agree with me, make sure you don’t forget that. Keep buying books, and vote with your money. After all, that’s what speaks loudest, when you come right down to it.

Long live the book.

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