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A thought or two (or ten) on the Amazon Kindle

So I think the Kindle is a really cool idea, a really "no duh" idea (all those books you read in elementary school discussing reading off of a handheld screen where words just appear... well there you go), and while it's a really expensive idea, having a number of books squashed into 10 ounces is pretty awesome.

But there is something about a library, a handful of books, the tactile feeling.

Perhaps soon every book will come with a CD that contains the book in electronic format. Basically, you have the ability to "rip" your book onto your PC, like you would a CD. Because I definitely don't enjoy purchasing music by downloading. It's much easier to lose files than it is to destroy a CD (well, I'm good at destroying CDs sometimes, but no matter).

I hope they lower the price on the Kindle soon, very soon, or at the very least start offering discounts for students. Think of the advantages to having a semester's worth of books in one of those. No more huge backpacks, only one of those and a notebook or two (or a laptop, whatever).

Then again, I haven't looked into it, but I hope you can make multiple bookmarks and "highlight" in the Kindle. Sure, you could write down "page 35 third paragraph 'This is an interesting point because...'" but I'm a fan of highlighting. Though I always tried not to in books I wasn't going to keep.

Hmm. I wonder if when you sell your book, you would still get to keep your electronic version on your hard drive, or if it would be assumed that you would need to destroy it. Can people resell their electronic books? Would that ability determine the willingness to pay outrageous amounts of money for an electronic textbook? At least when you shell out $100 for your Chem textbook, you know there's a decent chance you will get some of the money back at the end of the semester. People don't resell their iTunes downloads to my knowledge... (have used CD sales gone down as a result of torrenting?) Will torrenting of e-books become popular? Will people start buying 500GB hard drives just for their e-book collection?

Will there actually become an underground e-book revolution, like there has been with the music/movie industry, where suddenly everyone is a musician, a filmmaker, and now, an author? Will we suddenly always be looking out for the next big unknown writer? Will I see kids walking around wearing shirts that say "I've read books that don't even exist yet" and need to roll my eyes? Will new, genious authors get featured on the cover of Spin for their guerilla marketing tactics?

...could anyone really imagine our culture suddenly embracing literature because of this? Illegal downloading of books, everyone running around with Kindles in their bags, the literacy rate skyrocketing, and people shitting on the book industry for charging so much?

Who would dare complain?

Comments

I enjoyed this post immensely. I would link to it, were it but public.
considered the offer, and made it public. I'm interested in other people's thoughts on this contraption...
...And then there'd be the hardcore kids, who have the hardcover editions of the real book.

Paper would be the new vinyl.
Can you imagine a movie like High Fidelity, except you substitute literature for music?

*head explodes*
I actually brought this up in my media class last semester. The Kindle had just come out (for holiday sales, of course) and I had been doing research on Apple/the iPhone at the time.

To my knowledge, Apple is in talks with several publishers to create their own book-reader. And knowing Apple's tendency to create convergence devices, I wouldn't doubt that they'll be coming up with some sort of Pocket PC much like the awesome ones Nokia just released... but possibly larger to meet this book business.

That said, when Apple starts selling books through their online store I expect they will contain some sort of file lock, the same as music. However, the lock on the data file for a book probably won't be as easy to remove.

The general idea, I believe, is that books be released in pdf format... so I should assume they have the same highlighting/note-taking abilities.

In regards to underground sharing... I have about 20GB of music on an external harddrive that I have never listened to. I downloaded it all at some point or other expecting to listen to it eventually [which I will... someday]. In that line of thought, I feel that the habit of digital "collecting" (if applied to books) wouldn't really be detracting money from the industry. Most readers will prefer hard copies of books. And those who download masses of free books... aren't likely to have paid to read them to begin with.

I might download War and Peace intending to read it someday, but I never would have bought a copy of it anyway. So they haven't really lost my money.

What I would be interested in is how this effects public libraries. I still use the library frequently, but many people use it less due to the increased ease of online shopping with door-to-door delivery.

I would also see midnight releases increasing... as a ploy to get you to the bookstore. The problem is, the latest Chicken Soup release isn't going to draw as huge of a crowd as the midnight Harry Potter or the latest Johnny Depp movie... More books are released every day than there are movies. The only way bookstores would be able to cash in is with series like Harry Potter... And series like that are few and far between.

There's also the blunt fact that... many people are put off by reading. Reading for pleasure isn't considered a favorite pasttime much anymore. So, the idea of mass-trading online seems less-likely. Then again, these movements tend to start in small intelligent crowds before branching out virally across the entire population... so you never can say.

There's at least one thing I would find beneficial from digital books --nothing would be out of print anymore.

I'm rambling. Hit me back. I love to discuss technology. I've sat through many a media class :-)
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April 2010

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