February 10, 2009 – I have been resisting buying a digital reading device ever since the first Kindle came out a couple of years ago. I like to read, however, i couldn’t imagine reading my newspapers, magazines and bestsellers on a small hand held screen. I likened it to an affinity of the smell and feel of paper, the ink on my fingers and the bulk and size of the book. Besides, I could get electronic versions of everything I want to read on my laptop or even my phone. I suppose when Amazon founder, Jeff Bezos, decided to embark on a new venture involving selling technology Amazon actually produced, the tide was turning. I suspect that the Kindle was intended to be the answer to the question no one asked. What can I fit in my hand, is comfortable to hold, has huge storage and is lighter and smaller than a laptop? According to their marketing materials, the new Kindle 2 can wirelessly download over 230,000 books! That’s mind-boggling. There are no fees associated with the downloads nor are there wires to connect. It is all done wirelessly over Sprint’s cell network. There are tons of magazines, newspapers and blogs you can also wirelessly subscribe to. To my surprise, there are pictures too, albeit black and white only.
The new Kindle 2 is priced at $ 359.00. That’s a hefty chunk of change considering its just for the hardware. So the next question is what is the price of the content? Well, books list at anywhere from $ 4.00 and up. I saw most titles around the $ 10.00 range. I priced the Twilight Book 1
(I swear i have not read it!) at $ 6.04. The print version of the same book costs $ 11.99 in hardcover and the same $ 6.04 in paperback. Note, that this was one of the lesser priced Kindle 2 books. Most were a little higher.
Given the economy, I suspect that people may be reticent to pony up for this new device. After all, one can download books to their laptops or computers, iPods and even listen to books in their car. Also, isn’t there some appeal to showing off your bound library to the company? I now the tacky titles some of us collect may not be the most impressive. I admit to having such bound classics as “The Pick Up Artist” and “The Hardy Boys.” But these hardcovers often instill a level of accomplishment to perusers of the bookshelf. “I read them all” usually impresses an admirer until they ask for a plot summary. I don’t see that same level of accomplishment or “effect” when powering up the Kindle 2 and scrolling thru the dozens of titles. It’s not as much of a part of your “appearance” as it is a part of you. Introverts may prefer it, but I think some will never leave the comfort and familiarity of the smell of paper.
I have not been able to test drive the new Kindle 2 yet. it’s not shipping until the end of the month. Considering the first Kindle sold out in 5.5 hours in 2007, I admit that I ponied up and reserved my place in line by ordering one today. I will update this posting after I am able to get a hands-on with the device.