I have a problem. Apparently I'm terrified of the possibility of finding myself on the train without adequate reading material. At least, that's the conclusion you might come to if you could see the bag I drag with me. Right now you'd find the most recent issue of Newsweek, the last two issues of PC World (I'm a little behind), an issue of Clean Run, and several blogs/articles printed from the web. Oh, and don't forget the daily L.A. Times and Star-News. If I had my druthers, I'd also carry with me my book on Access 2007. But with the weight of that thing, it's just not practical. I've taken to printing chapters from the CD to carry with me. It's not very "green" of me, I have to admit.
So, how heavy could a few magazines be? You'd be surprised. What's the possibility of me actually reading all these items in my 35 minute (one-way) train ride? Zilch. It's impossible. Yet I am compelled to carry them all with me. Who knows, the train could be delayed. It's happened.
The new Amazon e-book, Kindle, is made for people like me. The ability to store hundreds of books, newspapers and magazines in a small, paperback-sized package is perfect for compulsive readers with bad backs. But what distinguishes it from its predecessors is that fact that it doesn't require a computer to download a book. It works off of a cellular phone network, which allows it to send reading material including newspapers and complete books to your Kindle in under a minute. You can also email documents to your Kindle account in Word or PDF format, where they will be loaded to your Kindle for a small fee.
This is a ground-breaking development. I could never seen myself hooking up a device to my computer every morning to download the daily paper, and it would also allow me to get delivery of my subscriptions wherever I happen to be, making it a great convenience when traveling.
That's the promise, if not the reality as yet, at least not for me. Though there are 92,000 titles available for the Kindle, my local newspapers and Newsweek, are not on the subscription list. But I have hope for the future.
There's been some talk about why the Kindle can't do more. It has limited web browsing capability (mainly Wikipedia), and won't' replace your MP3 player or cell phone. But I'm okay with that. I've yet to see a camera/phone/pda/etc combination that does each function well and is easy to use. While the Kindle won't replace my Blackberry, it has the potential to displace my magazines and books, and that's a big advantage for me.
I'm not really an early adopter. But once a gadget becomes practical tool rather then just a toy, I get very interested. I just might add Kindle to my Christmas list for 2008 if and when:
- content is available in color,
- Newsweek and the L.A. Times are offered,
- the price comes down to $300, and
- I actually have the chance to see and play with one!
I'd like to see it have a more open platform, with the ability to buy from other vendors, but I'm not sure that's in the cards.
Will Kindle ever be an option for legal content? Will our users load up cases, statutues and treatises on a Kindle-like device? Never say never. The book may not die, but the format may eventually fade away, given the right tools.
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