The Death of Print(?)
I’ve resisted the urge to do an additional Kindle post, but I’ve had it for a few weeks and I wanted to give some additional thoughts on it.
First off, I still love this thing. My primary reason for wanting a Kindle was with the goal of reading more, and it has already accomplished that. It wasn’t hard to get in the habit of carrying it with me just about everywhere, and in the last three weeks or so since getting it, I’ve read four books. The beleaguered text-to-speech function has read substantial portions of those books to me, allowing me to continue absorbing the information while driving or working, both situations in which I can’t focus on the text itself.
Also nice is the fact that I can lay it flat, or prop it up, and read it hands-free, without having to do any kind of physics experiment to provide enough weight in the right places to keep the pages from turning on their own, while still keeping the entirety of the page visible and allowing for intentional page turns. I don’t have to worry about losing my place in any book, and the ability to create clippings, bookmarks, and to search the text for words or phrases makes this a positively fantastic reading companion.
After the price, the first objection people bring up about the Kindle is usually that they “just like books.” Specifically, they like the tactile sensations, the turning of the pages and the smell of the paper. I could say something snarky about book fetishisation, but the truth is, I like books too. It’s still fetishisation, but I can’t pretend I don’t share it. But I find that I really don’t miss it that much — the Kindle experience is just as pleasant in its own right.
Still, I don’t think that the Kindle is likely to replace regular books for quite some time, or quite possibly ever. As Penny Arcade pointed out, books do have certain advantages. They don’t need to be recharged, they won’t crash or get corrupted, and in the unlikely event Amazon goes out of business, or stops supporting the Kindle, you won’t lose all the books you’ve already purchased. And in the event of a total cultural (or literal) apocalypse, books will survive and pass on our knowledge if digital access passes away (just don’t break your glasses!).
So even though the Kindle is awesome, real books still have value, and if I had to lay serious bets on one of them or the other, I’d probably lay them on books.
Still, it’s nice to be able to buy a book without worrying where I’m going to find the shelf space for it.