I’m reading more and more reviews of the new Amazon Kindle that I think are missing the point. A few more thoughts here:
– I’m a very heavy reader — I’ll buy/read/skim between 100 and 200 books a year, give or take.
– I have a lot of books in my house — thousands, easily. And they’re heavy, take up a lot of space, and are made from a lot of trees.
– I like the physical nature of books and magazines for a few different reasons. I use books that I’ve purchased but haven’t read like a “to do” list of what to read next. Sometimes books take me a year or two to get around to reading, but their presence on my “unread” bookshelf reminds me that I’m interested in it. I also sometimes like looking at my favorite books on my bookshelf, sometimes rereading them. I like the physicality & visual nature of magazines better than I like the physicality of individual books.
– While I don’t always re-read books — and, in fact, nearly never do — I love loaning them out. I don’t generally care whether I get them back, except in a few special cases.
– When I travel anywhere, I always take at least 2 books with me — one fiction and one non-fiction — and often take 1 or 2 more, depending on my mood. They’re heavy.
– While Amazon isn’t my favorite store (they used to be, but now I find them more like Wal-mart in attitude than I’d like), I do end up buying most of my books from there.
That stuff is all background — here are my thoughts now:
– I’m going to get a Kindle. I’ve been dying for an easy-to-use ebook with titles that I read. I need to check more closely, but think that something like 80% of the books on my “to read” shelf are available. That’s a new development. In particular, the 3 ~1,000 page books on my shelf (the new Halberstam on Korea, the new Winik on the 1780s, and the new Follet on the Middle Ages) are available.
– I think they’re taking the exact playbook from Apple/iPod/iTunes Store, and it’s crappy, on the whole. For one thing, there’s no mass of unprotected ebooks like there was unprotected mp3s — so you’re locked into Amazon’s store much more than the iTunes store, even. Really sucks. Crappy that you can’t share at all, loan them to others, print them. And unlike music, there’s no good way to rip the books that you have, putting them into your library.
– The pricing is an absolute breakthrough, and could do to the publishing industry what iTunes pricing has done to music and (hopefully) videos. That’s fantastic.
– To folks who have said that iPhones/iPods/music players are just as good: not a chance. Luminous LCD screens are not like eInk, which has the optical properties of paper. Not a chance that I could read a hundred or two hundred pages at a time on an LCD screen, but very doable with eInk.
– It’s absolutely ugly as hell. No getting around it. Very unfetching.
– I’m starting to understand why they put on a keyboard — for buying and searching, mostly — but think it’s not a completely necessary component. I’d prefer a smaller device or a larger screen. But we’ll see.
– I’m not sure the wireless was necessary. I tether my various iPods to my computer all the time – and since I only get a few books a week, that would work fine.
Bottom line, though: this isn’t the ultimate eReader — absolutely, and of course. But it will make my own life a lot better in many ways, and I don’t mind not having the physical books — and I actually like it. I hope that this evolves in a less proprietary way than, say, video, where we’re all screwed, but think that this offering is a first step in that direction.