Thursday, March 6, 2008

Digital Reading (The Amazon Kindle)

It's been four months since the Amazon Kindle was released (and four months since I read about it in Newsweek) and I am still completely torn on whether I will buy one once the price goes down a bit. I know that in the long run it would save me a ton of time and money, since I buy books like a junkie buys dope. Thus, every reasonable bone in my body says it would be a great investment. But I have my doubts on whether it would be worth it.

Of course, like just about every other bookworm, I am worried that I will not be able to "curl up" with a Kindle, and reading just won't be the same. And it's depressing to think of a life without trips to the bookstore, sampling endless authors' minds while sitting on a leather couch and sipping on chai tea. I enjoy shopping for books almost as much as I love reading them.

But the biggest reason I can't see myself owning a Kindle at this point is that I know it would become my most valued possession by far. That is a scary notion for me because I have never valued any posession all that much. When I was asked the common question, "If your house was on fire and you could save just one thing, what would it be?" I never knew how to answer since "my library" doesn't count as one thing. My things just aren't worth that much to me. The only possessions I have ever valued have been my books. And my indifference for my possessions has always been a source of great pride for me.

If I owned a Kindle, it would be worth slightly less than my son, and if it were lost, broken or stolen, I would be devastated. I would cry. I would stop eating. I would be an absolute mess.

Now, I don't know if Amazon has a backup of your purchased books; I'm sure they do, or that they will create one. That would eliminate some of the above-mentioned problems, but the Kindle itself is still an expensive piece of equipment, and in order to retrieve your books you would have to buy a new one.

So just be careful with it, right? Well, that creates even more problems. Books are not meant to be handled like fine jewelry. Books are meant to be carried around in your back pocket. Books are meant to be left on coffee tables, constantly in danger of becoming the victim of a spilt drink. Books are meant to be lost in the covers when you fall asleep reading them. You know a book is good when it's littered with coffee stains and the cover is reattached with scotch tape.

So, personally, I can't see myself ever owning a Kindle, despite how much money it would save me. This doesn't mean it won't happen, because I change my mind about all kinds of things all the time. But at this point in my life, I don't see the value in owning one.

All of that said, I think it's a wonderful invention. Hopefully it will motivate a new generation to re-discover the book.


Ordinary Girl said...

I have the same draw to the Kindle that you do. I would love to have all of my books accessible anytime I wanted to read them. I haven't really looked into what kind of space availability it has, but maybe it has room for expansion, or could kind of be like an iPod for books.

Anyway, I'd love to have one for $200, but I really can't see spending more. My only concern about the product really is that it's proprietary to Amazon. They do have a large selection of books and good prices, but it'd be nice if they also use other types of digital books. Perhaps one day there will be a converter, the same way mp3s can be used in iTunes, but are converted to another format for use.

Anyway, I love the idea, I'm just not sure how exactly it will work in practice and I'm unwilling to invest a lot of money until I know.

I think Amazon has a download manager, at least for mp3's, so you probably can re-download items if you lose the digital file. I'm not positive though.

And Ex would disagree with you about book abuse. :)

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