"My cousin has a Kindle and loves it, but I played with it a bit and found it utterly unsatisfying as a reading device. (Part of the difference is that she tends to read very disposable literature, while I am more drawn to non-fiction and great works one might return to over and over again.) Unless there is some significant improvement in such devices, they will take my books over my dead body ...""Warm embrace"? Jesus Murphy, am I the only person who doesn't need a goddam handjob from my reading material?
"... As an addendum to my previous post, I will admit that the ability to increase the font size is probably a useful selling point to people who have trouble seeing. On the other hand, I found using a Kindle to be a cold and technological experience, nothing like the warm embrace of many well-designed books I have enjoyed ..."
"... To reiterate what a poster said above, you cannot sell, trade or give away a copy when you are done with it. Consider the usefulness of a lowly paperback. After you read it, you can put it on a shelf to keep, trade it into a used book store for credit, give it to a friend, or even sell it on eBay/at a garage sale, or just donate it to any worthy charity.Most of those options gives that lowly paperback new life."
-- commenters on Kevin Drum's blog
You know, it's not like Amazon needs my help, but I'm in the mood to do some anti-backlash backlash snark. In particular, the repeated "What about giving away your books? Huh?" annoys me to no end. Now, people do this, but more than, say, two a year? Seriously? And in large enough numbers to justify rejecting a new technology out of hand? Is that anything but a hassle for most people doing it?
And no one's taking away your books! Just like, if you let us build Supertrains, no one will come and take your car!
Listen, I'm a guy with a storage unit full of books. Let me re-iterate that -- a STORAGE UNIT FULL OF BOOKS. I love reading. I devour fiction and non-fiction. But I believe it's worth noting as a pre-requisite for Kindle discussion that people who fetishize books as books are just that -- fetishists. They are, in modern culture, rare and specific exceptions. I prefer tabletop dice-rolling games to video games, but I'm fully aware that makes me a.) an exception and b.) does not automatically give me any high ground or relevant insight as far as innovations in videogaming goes. Because, again, a.)I am an exception.
Again, not like Amazon needs my help, but --
1.) Currently on my Kindle: my subscriptions to Newsweek, the Atlantic, Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine (which I NEVER bothered to hunt up in print), the frikkin' New Yorker, and my old hometown paper, The Boston Globe. Delivered every day or week dead-tree-free, not cluttering up my goddam living room, and can be read at any time, on any lunch or coffee break, without a "wait, did I put the new one in my briefcase this morning ...?" At the very least, this is the future of the magazine and newspaper business.
2.) Also taking up space in the quarter-inch beast: Aspects of the Novel by E.M Forster; the 300 pound hardcover From Colony to Superpower that I can read without spraining my wrist; Cosmonaut Keep by Ken MacLeod; the Complete Sherlock Holmes; Massim Nicholas Taleb's The Black Swan; a bunch of Richard K. Morgan; Fareed Zakariah's The Post-American World. Al Gore's Assault on Reason ...
3.) All those hardcovers were roughly half-price. And no, the library is not viable for me. I work 14 hours a day. I need to be able to get back to a book when I can get back to a book. I also tend to reread non-fiction.
4.) The DRM is indeed evil, if you ever want to transfer those books to another mass-market reader. Of which there are none. I don't much care for DRM, but I make enough of a living off copyright to realize that non-intrusive -- by which I mean non-intrusive in the acqusition process or the consumption phase -- DRM in media is not a high crime.
5.) The "tiny" screen is the size of a non-trade paperback book.
6.) No, reading pdf's or free ebooks on your laptop or iPhone is not the same thing. Enjoy your retinal burn.
All that said, there are a lot of improvements that could be put into play. Bundling e-book versions with real-world purchases would be both just and smart. The bizarre inability to properly process pdf's is just plain inexcusable. There are a whackload of problems, but if ever there was "making perfect the enemy of good" in action, it's the current round of Kindle bashing. At the very least, this sort of thinking in the entertainment industry is why we let the Web catch us with our pants around our ankles.
There. I've defended my beautiful, ivory baby. Back to typing. Feel free to put the suggestions for your ideal e-reader in the comments.