So this is not timely per se, given the fact that the whole world was abuzz with the Kindle 2's release a few weeks ago, but I am waiting for some pics so I can post about the POOLTRADESHOW I was at last week and this seems an appropriate way to fill the time.
For those of you who don't know what I'm talking about, the Kindle and Kindle 2 are digital readers. What that means is, much like an app from the Apple App Store for the iPhone and iPod Touch, you can pay around $10 per book and download it directly to your reader via wifi or 3G. The Kindle library currently stands at around 240,000 books. I guess the obvious advantages are that $10 is less than the $20-40 you'd pay for a new hardcover--and also slightly less than paperback bestseller prices; you don't have to store your books on a bookshelf; and the portable nature of your library means you don't have to pick and choose which books you'll take with you if you travel or commute.
As someone who sits at a desk and reads crap on a monitor pretty much all day everyday, I guess my question is, why would I want to stare at yet another backlit LCD surface? With a price point ($240 for a Kindle, $360 for a Kindle 2) that rivals some low-end netbooks and laptops, why would I not go the extra mile and just get a fully functional PC with an operating system and disk drives?
I admit that speaking logically, the Kindle is a more efficient way to read in nearly every respect, but is that really what reading for pleasure is about? I'm not sure I can accept that... I grew up on good old fashioned paper, and I'll continue growing up on it. There is a feeling, a tactile sensation, that you get from opening and closing books, feeling the paper, turning the page, that I find to be an integral part of the reading experience. On top of that, I am a notorious underliner and margin scribbler, and I doubt very much that I would get the same joy out of annotating in a separate notebook or even leaving a little digital post-it on the page.
I do not fear technology. I embrace it. I like the fact that I can sit on my couch and control every single piece of electronics in my apartment with my cell phone. I like the internet. I like you. BUT, I also like gasoline guzzling sportscars, the outdoors, and reading books made out of trees and glue. I am not saying that the Kindle is garbage or anything, I just think it defeats the purpose of reading books. Why in the world would you want to live life without a fully-stocked bookshelf?
Half-assed hybrid horsepower and digital readers be damned. Unapologetically I say to you that I am living in the past and proud of it.