Thursday, June 19, 2008
The New Kindle Reader - Your Thoughts?
I wanted to take a break from my revision posting to talk about something interesting that happened to me this week.
In my office, so far this week, I've seen two people come in carrying the new Kindle reader. This is the first I've ever seen of it. I've always thought it was interesting technology, but I've never actually seen one before. Until now.
Both of these people were avid readers. Multiple books each month readers, the kind we'd all love to reach with our writing. One was in her 40's the other was in her mid-to-late 60's, so we're not talking about techno-gen X'ers here. These are mature adults who grew up in the pre-laptop generation.
Both praised the Kindle to no end. They loved the portability, the ability to go on vacation and carry many books at once, without carrying many books. They loved the lightness of the reader and the ease of use. Perhaps most impressive of all, the wireless technology allowed one woman to purchase a new book from Amazon and start reading it right there, in my office, while she was waiting to see me. Further, she let me know that lots of books that are beyond copyright are available for free download. She had 30 books on her reader.
Now, all of that sounds great, but the big question to me was, how does it read? If you're like me, the very process of reading on a screen is very different that reading a book. For some reason, the story just doesn't seem the same to me, even though they're the same words. She showed me the screen, which has a muted grey background so there's no glare, showed me how to flip pages, even change the font size for easier reading. In her view, after the first few minutes, she couldn't tell the difference between reading the Kindle or reading a book.
What are your thoughts? Will the Kindle become the next answer for reading? It is a nice, portable form of electronic reading and allows you to store a vast library at your fingertips. The thing I like about it is that, for now at least, the purchasing of books still allows electronic distribution with full recognition and royalties to the author, as opposed to file sharing of music mp3's.
Now the Kindle is a bit pricey, $399 originally, but I heard they dropped the price down to $349. Books are relatively reasonable, $9 apiece, billed directly to your Amazon account. Is it worth spending $349 for a gadget that allows you to read a book that's more costly than a paperback, yet not ever have the physical product?
Will this spell the demise of the book store as we all browse our Kindles and buy through the ethernet? Is this the future format of book distribution?
What are your thoughts?