Sunday, August 16, 2009

Kindle in the news - an upbeat week

This week saw an upswing in positive feedback on
the Kindle in the news.

  And it brought up some thoughts of my own
that I'd posted earlier to another forum.

1. Wendy Lawton, a literary agent in Santa Rosa, California, writes:
"I was at a gathering at author Lauraine Snelling’s house. Several of us had Kindles.  As soon as someone would recommend a book, we’d all go online and buy it right then and there.  Other e-readers require a computer and an internet connection to load books.  But when you’re sitting in an airport finishing a book, those things are just not available to you."
She doesn't like non-fiction on it (I do because I use the notes and search tools) -- and because you can't share the e-books unless you share an account with someone, she finds herself buying another version of the book for someone and even an audio version.  Still, she ends:
"I’ve heard so many readers say, “I could never use an e-reader.  I love the smell of a book. . .the feel of it in my hand.”  I used to say the same thing but with each novel I read on my Kindle, I’m more connected to the look, the feel the smell of it.

  Whether it’s a book or an e-reader, it’s not the device, it’s the magic of story.  The device becomes infused with the stories, settings and characters and we fall in love"
  The 'magic of story' - I really liked that.  While she is mindful of layout and presentation (just look at how well-organized and relaxing the feel of her page is), she doesn't seem to overly miss the book cover, the paper, the layout, leafing through the book.

2. For me, who had not read much for years when not on the computer where I did 95% of my reading (but for hours), it's been interesting to see how pulled I am to read on the Kindle.  In trying to explain it to the members of a writer's blog area (Catching Days, by Cynthia Newberry Martin) who had been lamenting the popularity of the Kindle because they love the look, smell and feel of books (do visit them, very good conversations there), I wrote on June 28:
" I finally realized that the rectangle acts as a sort of magic window for me (as a paper book does for others) into other worlds, so much of it available to me at any given time, depending on my mood, my need to learn something I ordinarily wouldn’t but have downloaded a book for, and I never wonder 'where did I put that book' or regret leaving it at home when out and about.  Every book I’m currently interested in is with me whenever I leave the house.  And then there are the newspapers and magazines.  I am, most of all, info-drawn.

  We who Kindle quite a bit sometimes joke that we are book readers, not book sniffers :-)  But more seriously, what is a book ?

  A collection and special distribution of words written by someone who wants to tell me something, who wants me to get lost in the world created by that person.  When an author sits down to write, I don’t think that s/he is thinking about what the cover will look like (though that always comes later) or what the layout of the externals will be.

  What I experience when reading on my Kindle is — without attention to those eye-catching externals — something that feels like direct contact with the author’s mind..."
I got carried away and wrote a lot more, but that's essentially how I personally am affected by reading on an almost weightless 10 oz. plastic tablet with a truly strange keyboard which nevertheless works well for searches and short notes.  And now I find myself reading most of the time on the heavier but even clearer larger-screen'd Kindle DX.

3. Dolph Tillotson, president and publisher of Galveston County's The Daily News writes about the many reasons he likes, though doesn't love, his Kindle, as he feels he will miss the memories a physical book can bring when encountered years later.

4. Suranand Vejjajiva, a book lover writing for The Bangkok Post describes his reaction:
" As I got hold of the electronic reading device, I felt like the first time I held an iPod and looked back to my college days when vinyl records on turntables were the norm.  Every song could now be downloaded, and soon every book would be.  Or would it not?

... Luckily I got the new version, 1/3 of an inch thick, weighs 10.2 ounces, clear text and sharp letters and, most amazingly, it is supposed to hold more than 1,500 books in this single tablet.
  The device also has other features, such as one can highlight words or sentences, take notes along the way, remember where you left off without needing a bookmark, and at a click, a dictionary appears to automatically look up words that baffled you in the past. "
But because there is no Whispernet or cellular wireless operational there, he feels the 'cracks in the digital divide'
... all of which remind me that:

5.   This Friday's weekly The Kindle Chronicles podcast by Len Edgerly included a 'Tech Tip' on "How to buy and feed a Kindle if you don’t live in the U.S." (a hot topic on the Amazon forums).  The tip was sent to Len by Charles Tay of Singapore, and he links to online tutorials by users outside the U.S.

  The weekly interview is with Steve Shank, who was the founding president of Apple Japan and Apple Australia and has decades of experience as an industry watcher and mover, so he had some interesting views of where Amazon is, with the Kindle.  He also is a Kindle enthusiast, as is his wife.

  That brought up the now common struggle with a "family Kindle" in a home with two avid readers.   Another Kindle owner (Len Charnoff?) emailed:
' The other day I knew it was time to purchase a second Kindle.  I work part time as a Manufacturer's Rep.  When I go on long trips my wife always says " Drive carefully and give me a call when you get to the Motel".  This time all she said, " Tell me you're not taking the Kindle". '
6. By the way, as mentioned on the podcast, Stephen Windwalker has just released a book with lots of good tips on how to do things not described in the User's Guide.  Give it a look.

7. And, finally, here's an article that is so positive that I disagree with its final prediction about printed books -- The Dallas Morning News's Scott Burns feels so convinced by the Kindle and other e-readers, that he suggests that the Kindle will replace physical books in the way that digital cameras have replaced film cameras.

  But books are the end result, in any text format, while photos are the end result with both types of cameras.  A fine distinction, but in no way do I think e-readers will ever totally replace books.  That would be sad, even for someone who loves doing most of my reading on the Kindle.  I still love printed books for content for which they're vastly superior vehicles, and I still will want a printed book in addition to an e-book I really loved reading and want to enjoy in a format that stands alone. Below are ways to Share this post if you'd like others to see it.
-- The Send to Kindle button works well only on Firefox currently.

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