Saying Bye-Bye to Hard Copies?

February 9, 2009 at 7:37 pm | Posted in New Technology | Leave a comment
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Oooh, look at that gorgeous peice of technology!

Oooh, look at that gorgeous peice of technology!

Today, Amazon introduced the second generation electronic reader, Kindle 2. Much like its predecessor, the Kindle 2 functions as an all-in-one magazine/book/newspaper/blog reading device. By “purchasing” a book, newspaper, magazine or blog through Amazon, Kindle owners can have electronic versions uploaded to their devices within seconds. And with enough memory to hold 1,500 books, the Kindle 2 is literally a hand-held library.

Most of us would cringe at the thought of reading an entire novel on a computer screen: the eye strain would most likely cause legal blindness. Not fun. Developers of the Kindle took this into consideration, and according to Amazon:

Kindle 2 is purpose-built for reading with a high-resolution 6-inch electronic paper display that looks and reads like real paper, which lets users read for hours without the eyestrain caused by reading on a backlit display.

What does this mean for hard copy?

Why, oh why, would a person want to tote around paperbacks when they can have their entire library at their fingertips on a Kindle? Well, there are a few reasons:

  • Cost– the Kindle comes in at $359. Not exactly a bargain in this economic situation.
  • Battery Life– although Amazon claims extended battery life, many testers found the battery draining to halfway after a day of intermittent reading. Your hardcover isn’t going to die on ya.
  • Availability of Titles– not everything is available on the Kindle. I’ll give it to Amazon, they do have an incredible selection but it’s not perfect.
  • The Feel of a Book– or a newspaper, or a magazine. There’s something nice about curling up with an actual book on a rainy Sunday. For some reason, I don’t think an electronic version will be as, well, cozy.
  • Borrowing– you can lend a paperback to a friend while you read another. Not the case with the Kindle. You buy it, it’s yours. No sharing. If Amazon allowed you to “lend” the title to other Kindle users, I would be impressed.

Overall, it’s a pretty cool product. I have a feeling that a couple years down

Have no fear, library. You'll be around a little longer.

Have no fear, library. You'll be around a little longer.

the road, Amazon will work out the kinks (slow page turning, battery life, cost, etc.) and a far superior product will emerge. I don’t think hard copies have anything to worry about until then. I don’t forsee enough people wanting to shell out $359 for something when they can borrow a book from the local library for free, pay $1 for the newspaper, or read a blog on the computer for free. Let’s talk again when the Kindle 5 comes out.


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