Update on the Kindle

4.00 avg. rating (80% score) - 1 vote

A while ago in this blog, I wrote about the new kind of “book,” the Kindle, the e book that’s being marketed by Amazon.com. These “books” are electronic tablets you hold in your hand. Purchase them, like an I-pod, and you buy the ability to download almost anything available in the printed world — newspapers, magazines, books, even the ones that were just published yesterday. You pay for each download as you would a book at the store except it’s paperless and comes to you instantly in this device. The screen displays the reading material one page at a time, like a book except it’s electronic. Because I’m a baby boomer and I have no children, I’m more than casually interested in knowing how young people feel about things like this. I teach at a local university so I often pose questions to my students when I’m unsure how things like Kindles play with the younger set. In a recent class I asked what they thought about the Kindle and my students recoiled. I have eight students, mostly seniors. They spoke with some passion about the experience of reading a book, how tactile it is, how visceral and how comfortable it is to curl up with a book. They were not just immune to the idea of the Kindle, it almost seemed like they were repelled by it.

In the workshop I gave last spring, one of the participants was a 14-year-old girl named Shelby. Shelby is a firecracker of a girl with an acting career on the side. She began the workshop but soon had to leave as she was wanted at a rehearsal in New York. She received the news in my living room on her cell phone. But she was with us for a day and that seemed to make an impression nevertheless. Several months later, Shelby’s mom, Kim, wrote to me, checking in to keep me up to date. Among other things, she told me that, inspired by our workshop discussion of the Kindle, she had bought one for Shelby for her birthday. “She is having a blast with it,” she wrote. “We bought it in August and have not put it down yet. The only drawback is that for a two-person family, you need two Kindles since the one we own is always being used. We almost choked on purchasing one for $400. But the books are soooo inexpensive. And it makes an old girl like me think I am living in the 21st century. Of course, like you, I never got an I-Pod so maybe it doesn’t count when you only purchase every 5th electronic device that appears on the market. Anyway, if not for your workshop, none of this would have attracted our attention and interest.”

It was an aspect of the Kindle that I hadn’t thought of before, that it is truly a personal reading device and that it would not be enough to have one, if it were for more than one person or for a family. So the price of this gadget just went up, in my book, no pun intended. I was also interested to know that, most unintentionally, I inspired someone to buy one of these new electronic devices that simulates the book in all ways but the smell of it, the sound of the page turning, the presence of its heft on the bedside table. And the lineup of books read and loved in the bookcase where the sight of the title on the spine instantly provokes the pleasure that was had in reading it.

Maybe the bookshelf will someday go the way of the horse. The good thing about these devices is that they save paper and printing costs so the content is available to readers for less (once you own the expensive and certainly not indestructible device!). The downside, among other factors already listed, might be that these electronic “stores” would render the bookstore obsolete. The content will go directly from publisher to reader, no one in between. Recently, Oprah endorsed the Kindle and its twin, the Sony Reader. Apparently, her power in the book world has not diminished. After her endorsement, the little mobile devices have sold out and may not be available again until February 2009. Hmmmm. I’m not putting myself on the waiting list yet but I also realize that we must never say never. Even in this household where the woodburning cookstove is the heart of the home, there may someday be a place for the Kindle.

  • My daughter gifted me with a nook a year ago and I have enjoyed it daily. I love the feel of a book in my hands and when there is something I want to keep or to reread I head to the bookstore. My day isn’t complete until I’ve read the local newspaper. If I were asked the question. If you were stranded on a deserted island which would you want with you your nook or books? I would have to say books. I might get tired of reading them but they don’t require charging.

  • Like the comment above, I too have no desire for an electronic reader. Although I don’t leave home without my iPad2. I like the feel of reading a newspaper a book and the rest. I have a passion for the art of typography. What is missing from this tablet explosion is simply; there are many employed in the printing industry. An industry that has many branches. Bindery, paper and ink businesses feed into everything you pick up and read…newspapers, travel brochures, packages, advertising materials of many sorts. Clip a coupon on your Kindle? The generation following us needs to know the value, history and enjoyment of the printed word.

  • I’m in love with my iPhone, but I have no desire to get a Kindle/Nook/etc. My best friend got a Nook for Christmas – we were talking about the book The Help and that we haven’t read it yet. She said, “oh, I have it!” to which I replied, “Can I borrow it when you’re done?” She sighed, “No, cause it’s on my Kindle.” I’ve shared many books over the years, I’ve given them away (or sold them) when I’m finished with them. But my friend will never again be able to loan me her copy of a book…. ;-(

  • My husband and I both got kindle touches for Christmas. We are both enjoying the ability to download books cheaply. I still get library books, I still order real books online. We live in a rural area and going to a physical bookstore takes time, money, and gas to go the 50 miles one way..
    I think there is room for all of us in this world and no and never can seem like forever. We do not embrace all of the new technology, just those things that work for us. ann

  • I love books. Keep your Kindle, if you like it; but please leave the rest of us who want to hold a “real” book in peace.
    A book in hand or on the shelf can be immeasurable pleasure; and it’s wonderful to open to a favorite place and reread a passage, even if just in passing.
    Thanks, Edie, for your thoughts on this. They can call us “old fuddy duddies” if they like; but we can look smug and be grateful that we have books, not some electronic device that’s subject to breakage and becoming out-of-date.
    I know, “Never say never.” How about, “Not in this lifetime?”

  • The Kindle is wonderful, quick to get the book–no waiting. Being able to select type size is a terrific feature. It feels like a book when you leave it in the protector, and it is lighter and easier to take along. I never thought I’d buy one, so glad I did. I’m downsizing the hundreds of books in the house. Time marches on.

  • just call me old fashioned. i can’t even imagine enjoying a kindle. i told my husband who is a technology junkie NOT to get me one for christmas, afraid he would think it such a great idea. i like to hold what i am reading. i like to see my books sitting in their places on the bookshelves.

    i print out recipes instead of keeping them in a file on-line. this makes my husband nuts. i am sorry that i am “wasting” paper, but i like hard copies of things. i do enjoy reading e-mail and a variety of newspapers on-line. the expeditious appearance of letters and news via the internet is fascinating and handy. but as far as my books are concerned, i want to enjoy the whole package! perhaps it is my age and life experiences. i doubt this old fuddy duddy is going to change.

  • I have owned a kindle for almost a year. I like the fact that it is small enough to fit in my medium size purse. Whenever I have to wait, I read my kindle. On vacation I don’t have to add extra weight (which costs a lot more now). It holds many books, if you want to re-read a book it’s there. I also thought that I was going to miss the book feel, but I keep it in the leather book protector and its not the same feel, but it is close. The initial cost is steep. The cost of the downloaded book however is much cheaper. The kindle stays charged for quite some time. You can order a car charger. If there is a book that I think that I want to buy, I can read part of it as a preview, or read reviews on it. The books download in seconds and unless it is an audio book, you don’t download connected to a computer. It uses technology like your cell phone. I have downloaded a book in various parts of the country with no problems. I really enjoy my kindle. I still buy books, especially if I think that it is a book that I might want to have forever or even share. I hope that I have shed some light on the kindle.

  • Michelle

    Trees are a renewable resource and most books are made from some amount of recycled paper. Books can be passed on to others, unlike a Kindle. You don’t have to charge a book’s batteries, and the current model never becomes obsolete in 6 months. It’s late now, so I think I will go to bed with my current issue of Yankee Magazine.

  • Well, it’s like anything else-when the power goes out in good old New England, you won’t be reading a thing on the computer screen-could be for many days in a row too. Witness the ice storm we just had on Thursday-power still out and will be for some days to come. A good book by flashlight under the down comforter is something I cherish and will always have available to me because I always have a good book to read!

  • There’s just nothing like opening a good book and smelling that new book smell. Not sure I’ll get into a Kindle.


Leave a Comment

Enter Your Log In Credentials