Let me just preface this entry by saying that I’m not a Luddite or technophobe- if I was, would I be writing this blog?
Kindle, Amazon.com’s attempt to do to the printed book what the iPod did to the CD, was released today. I read the article in Newsweek. I read the article in the New York Times. I watched the promotional videos on Amazon. I thought about the Kindle, worried about it briefly, and then came to yet the same conclusion I have a dozen or so times before- the printed book is not yet dead.
About 1997 I read an article talking about the future of the book. The digital book was to be the wave of the future. All sorts of advancements were coming down the road in the next few years that would allow hand held devices to not only replace books, but to allow us to carry hundreds with them. Ten years and numerous attempts later nothing has yet displaced that block of wood pulp and ink.
Here’s why, with a book, paper is superior to an LCD screen:
1). Books have been portable a lot longer than computers. The technology in books has been perfected over centuries and is unlikely to be replaced so easily.
2). Price. Invest in a book and only a book. You don’t have to spend a quarter to a third of a mortgage payment just for the ability to read a book. For a minor investment, you get permanence, not bits of electricity floating about in the ether.
3). Ever tried to get your favorite author to sign an ebook? Or, ever tried to give an ebook as a gift, inscribed with a personal thought?
4). Try lending an ebook to a friend.
5). Every donated an ebook to charity or sold it to a used bookstore for a little extra cash?
6). The feel, the heft, the smell of a printed book just can’t be duplicated by an ebook. Unless Kindle comes with a scent generator- is that possible?
7). Lastly, no batteries required.
Good luck Kindle, but does the word Rocketbook mean anything to you?