The Kindle

So.

Kindle.

I am not familiar with the history behind that name, or much else with that product besides it being an e-book reader. (Researching it will make me want one even more.) The response to this product has reminded me greatly of the thoughts from when mp3 players started to arrive on the scene. People really enjoyed the fact that they could carry their whole music library on a tiny portable machine and listen at their leisure. They kept buying CDs (many people still do), but mp3 players offered convenience.

The Kindle will never replace the feel of an actual library. Growing up, I had the pleasure of living nearby several libraries – beautiful architecture, high ceilings, a silence that was almost holy, and the calming sensation that only libraries can produce. There was something about all those books waiting quietly, sitting for years in sunlight and dust motes. The atmosphere bled knowledge, a pure sense of entertainment, and an almost Gothic tranquility.

These days, libraries are still pleasant places to spend hours browsing or studying, but the ones I’ve visited in California have lost something in translation. That sense of calm is still there, along with the nice touch of being able to read for free, but there is a definite lean towards a modern and more digital route. As nice as the Internet is, I honestly wish today’s youth was a little less technologically inclined.

For those of you who love books and libraries as much as I do, the Kindle appears to be able to bring the sensations home in a semi-convenient package. This would work very well for those with lengthy commutes (who are able to read and not get motion-sick), or those with casual desk jobs that want to catch up on their reading without having to always carry various books around. Yes, I understand you’ll still be physically holding something, but it’s different.

The only thing that worries me is the potential for ad intrusion. Once we move into territory where Kindle downloads are highly popularized we may start seeing things along the lines of “Download this free e-book, paid for by our sponsors”, and then have the print (on your screen) reformatted to fit various ads. Perhaps add in an extra page here and there that is a full-page ad. I know you get what you pay for (or don’t pay for), but these sorts of things seem to be always out there.

What prompted my entry was the following article on the NYTimes blog, “The Kindle Lets Amazon Make a Lot From the Few”.

They’re right: this definitely won’t overtake physical book buying, and I doubt libraries have much to worry about, it’s just – as they put it – the right product for the right customers. Now if only someone would buy me one so I can test and review it properly!