The Amazon Kindle

From this week’s Newsweek:

“Music and video have been digital for a long time, and short-form reading has been digitized, beginning with the early Web. But long-form reading really hasn’t.” Yet. This week [Jeff] Bezos is releasing the Amazon Kindle, an electronic device that he hopes will leapfrog over previous attempts at e-readers and become the turning point in a transformation toward Book 2.0.

Just another ebook? Judging from the look and description of this gadget, the Kindle probably has a huge advantage over previous e-books.

  • it’s somewhere between the size of a paperback and cloth-bound book
  • uses an easy-on-the-eyes “e ink”
  • has built-in wifi enabling it to download new material by itself
  • has a starting inventory of 91,000 available titles and 11 major newspapers (all sold separately)
  • and is backed by Jeff Bezos and online giant

It’s almost like an iPod for books. I’m hoping our library will buy one ($399) for our technology “petting zoo”. Over time, we’ll see how well it works and whether it becomes a new standard in the industry. One can only imagine where this new device will lead.

7 Responses to The Amazon Kindle

  1. Holly says:

    I don’t want it! I won’t get it! I rail against it on principle alone (having never seen one). For real books, I’ll draw my line in the sand.

    How’s that for open-minded, forward-thinking communication? Heh. Just say “No!”

  2. Harlan says:

    My main problem with this is not the technological aspect – heck, I suppose one could say that it’s more “green” to offer electronic versions of best sellers than printing hundreds of thousands of paper copies that no one will want in six months. My problem is that, over time, electronic-only books will end up being hidden away in databanks and made unavailable just because an author or publisher decides to make it so.

    Physically printing a book and making it available means that somewhere someone will practically always have a copy — and since one of those someones is likely to be a library, it will pretty much always be available to read, learn from, enjoy, or even hate and disagree with.

    Sharing knowledge and making it available in the long-term is one way in which we support and preserve a free society. Using techology as an excuse to make some things unavailable – for whatever reason – undermines that freedom.

    Or am I just being paranoid? 🙂

  3. Steve Campion says:

    Holly: I can certainly understand the thought. As a lover and collector of physical books myself, that’s my instinctive reaction, too. In the Newsweek article, Bezos said he loves the physical books, too, but because he associates them “with all those worlds I have been transported to. What we love is the words and ideas.” I agree with him to a point — but ONLY to a point. Physical books — unlike records, cassettes, and CDs — evoke an emotional connection with us. I don’t ever want to lose that. On the other hand, digital information can do things physical books can’t. I’m hoping there’s room in the future for both.

    Harlan: Great point! Having copies in individual hands (or even in forgotten boxes) contributes to the preservation of a work. Physical copies are also wonderful for sharing — whether it’s loaning or giving away. Books downloaded to a Kindle, by the terms of the user agreement, are single owner books. You can’t loan, give, or re-sell a Kindle book. A world of “one book, one reader” doesn’t sit well with me.

  4. betterretail says:

    One thing I can say is that it would be awesome if Amazon let me have digital versions of the books I have already bought through my Amazon account.

  5. Harlan says:

    Now *that’s* an excellent point! If we’re given the option as to how we want a book delivered to us – or, preferably, if we can get the book, the digital book, and the audio download as a combo for the same or even a slightly higher price – then *we* have the freedom to decide how we choose to experience the book itself.

    Audio books can sometimes lend a work a dimention they don’t have in printed form – sometimes good, sometimes not so good – so I have no argument with that format at all so long as it is produced with the cooperation of the author. But a digital book really isn’t the same thing as a book, particularly since the current generation of PC users tends to treat digital text as both instant gratification and utterly disposable.

    I guess to my mind, then, it comes down to this: sure, make books available in various formats for various people — but be sure always that one of those formats is a *real* book!

  6. Georgia says:

    I want to try one! While I’ll always prefer reading in the traditional book form, I’m all for any other format of literature, ideas or the written word that will engage and excite people. If it works for someone — regardless of what I think — I’m all for it.

    As a traveler and sailor, I am waiting for something like this so that I can tote a good number of books with me, but without the weight and space, so I could see using it in the right situation.

    I hope some standard is found and the popularity is clear, so that the Library can support it for our community!

  7. Morgan Smith says:

    I travel a lot so I’m going to look into getting one once the second generation comes out and the price comes down a bit. But I’m with others who’ve said they’d hate to see it replace traditional books– what of sharing, trading books among friends? And what about making notations in books?

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