Sunday, September 05, 2010

Kindle: Still Hard to Beat Free (as in Library)

NYT: Auriane and Sebastien de Halleux are at sharp odds over “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” but not about the plot. The problem is that she prefers the book version, while he reads it on his iPad. And in this literary dispute, the couple says, it’s ne’er the twain shall meet.
“She talks about the smell of the paper and the feeling of holding it in your hands,” said Mr. de Halleux, 32, who says he thinks the substance is the same regardless of medium. He added, sounding mildly piqued, “She uses the word ‘real.’ ”

It's very ironic, since college days (c. 1985) I felt sure that one day reading and research would be conducted primarily via computer. People used to argue with me that they would never want to curl up with a computer, and I said that the technology would eventually evolve to the point where it was a good facsimile for a book.[1] Now that day has arrived, and I am still a holdout.

My reason for being a holdout has nothing to do with the technology. I have experimented with a Kindle, it seems good.  But I am very much in the cheapskate, "informatiion wants to be free" camp. A $10, or even $8, book on the Kindle simply can't compete with the library, where books are really, truly free.

The Kindle does have some intrinsic advantages, so it might be able to beat free, but for me, I think the price would have to be $5 or less. One of those advantages, as the article later notes, the eReader offers the ability to change the font size, which wasn't even on my young mind in 1985, but I now realize is a major plus. Searchability is another one. Also, I hate book clutter, so the ability to have books but not have them take up any space is also nice. Although the main reason for hanging onto books is to lend them to someone else, and you can't do that with the Kindle, so maybe it is not such a big advantage.


  1. Yep, I can vouch that you've been preaching about e-books to your lil sis for a couple of decades. It's taken til about 5 years ago for me to be able to wrap my mind around the concept.

  2. Ah, yes, you are a very reliable witness for me there, Noelle.