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The Death of Print(?)

March 18, 2009

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.

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  1. Ray permalink

    This post is FTW for the Twilight Zone reference.

    Wait, you can get it to turn pages without touching it?

    • No. The pages turn by themselves. They mess with your mind like that. You look away for a moment and cannot find where you were anymore when you try to continue reading.

      It is the spirit of the trees getting revenge on Humanity or some such. Heh. Could make for a Sci-Fi… I mean a SyFy dangerous night of television made-for-TV movie if one can figure out how to get some explosions into it.

      I can see it now: a forest cursed by displaced Native Americans, books rewriting themselves to brainwash some people while just killing others. (Then again, some books do not need any rewriting for that. Yes?) Of course, the SyFy solution is to nuke the forest.

      Kindle saves the day. Though, the ending has a “cursed” Kindle doing the same thing, but it is really one of the displaced tribes hacking into the Kindle network. 😛

      Yeah. That is quite enough from me.

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