To bibliophiles everywhere, the future is here. Kindles and other e-book readers are fast becoming the things to have. In our high tech world, their stature at the top of the heap won’t last too long, as we know from past experience, but for now, these gadgets are the talk of the town -- or at least the social media sites.
Like most of you, I would say that I am a book person. I love books. I love spending time in bookstores, strolling around, picking them up, paging through them and wanting to take them all home. So when I learned about Kindle and the other book readers, I decided that I just wasn’t interested.
That said, this past holiday we decided to give Kindles to our son Dan and his wife Blaire as they are both avid readers and do a fair amount of traveling too. After considering whether they might want or use Kindles -- and deciding that yes, they did! -- I couldn’t get myself past the feeling that the gadget still was not for me. My personal jury was still out on whether I would have any use at all for such a tool.
Well, I also received a Kindle as a gift and have found that it is the coolest thing since cream cheese. Amazon, which has made buying books and other things so easy, hit the mark with this device. It is a vast improvement on its past book reader which was released before its time. One friend of mine had this earlier version but ended up giving up on it since there were so few books available to read on it.
But the Tipping Point has been reached with Kindle. Amazon has sold over three million Kindles and the popular website says it “now sells six Kindle books for every ten printed copies of books that are available in both formats.” That’s a lot of downloading, but you can easily see where this is going.
Checking with friends and even my book club members, I found that several people now had Kindles and were happy with them. One of the main positives about the Kindle is how easy it is to take along when traveling. Instead of packing several heavy books (and cluttering up your suitcase with all that extra weight) you can download books onto the Kindle before you go or download while you are away. You will never be without a book to read again.
To Terry Fahrney, who travels a lot, that is good news. “I have found the Kindle to be nice and compact, replacing large books in my travel case. The Amazon library is large (400,000 books and growing) and you can get just about anything you want on it,” including newspapers, magazines and blogs. Terry finds the device easy to hold and new prefers it to a “regular” book.
Blaire, who is a book lover, too, says she can see the Kindle “being a supplement for (if not a replacement for) certain parts of her library.” An English Ph.D. candidate, she says professors at her university are keen to have their required texts made available on Kindle. In terms of cost, this is probably a great idea, but Blaire adds that the annotating function on Kindle leaves much to be desired, which I have found to be true, too. You can make a note while reading along on a Kindle, but it in no way replaces the old highlight pens and the ability to thumb back to look for something you have already read or marked.
But she says that the technology will probably be improved soon enough to deal with that problem, and since the Kindle has wireless capabilities, I am guessing that new software can be beamed to Kindles from afar when updates are made.
“I doubt that the Kindle will ever replace books for me,” she adds, “but I think it’s only a matter of time before it replaces the printed libraries of a lot of people who want to streamline their lives.”
I think I fall into that category. I love my books, but do pass them on to libraries or charity thrift stores when I have finished reading them. Who has room for all of the books and other items we would like to keep? The Kindle makes it easier to “keep” the books we love in one place (as many as 3,500 of them on one device) and in a space about as big as the National Geographic magazine.
By Teresa K. Flatley