Kindle or Kindling?

I have been reading the brouhaha over the release of Amazon’s new wireless reader, Kindle, over the past week. My goodness, but it seems to have twisted some peoples’ knickers! Maybe it’s just the blogs and articles I read, but I don’t recall seeing this amount of passionate discourse over a product since the iPhone — okay, so that wasn’t that long ago. But still. . . .

KindleWhy am I jumping into the fray? Because this site celebrates great writing, which by extension, can include the manner in which such great writing is read. Besides, I love gadgets, and have been more intrigued by the Kindle than any other e-reader to have come down the pike. But the venom this gadget has wrought forth in the week since its release is almost as interesting as the reader itself.

Here are some Kindle facts and stats, for those of you who haven’t been obsessively following the tempest:

  • It retails for a whopping $399, but you can buy multitudes of books for $9.99 at the Kindle Store
  • Its wireless capabilities let you connect to the Kindle store to buy its books from the device itself
  • It has received (as of the time I am writing this post) 720 comments, with an average rating of 3 stars; thus far, it has received 169 5-star ratings, and 235 1-star ratings
  • According to Technorati, it has inspired more than 5000 posts — most of which, one can safely assume, have occurred subsequent to its release date

Because, as I mentioned, I am a gadget geekess, I’ve been reading a lot of posts about Kindle, and most of it has been not very complimentary. The TeleRead blog has provided some of the best and most varied commentary about the device, including the latest scathing review by Robert Scoble, heavyweight blogger and former Microsoft tech guru. As far as I can tell, the complaints seems to fall into these categories:

  • The device is too expensive. It’s hard to argue with that beef; at the moment, I certainly can’t afford it.
  • No ability to buy things other than Kindle books from Amazon off of the device. Hello?!! It’s not a PDA, or a Smartphone, or a tablet PC. It’s a wireless reader. Why should you want to buy anything with it other than books that you can read on it?
  • You can’t drop it in a mud puddle or sit in a hot bath with it like a paper book. Seriously? This is what people are wigging out about? It’s not replacing paper books, but simply joining as an adjunct. Piece of advice: don’t take a cell phone or laptop into the tub either. And frankly, I tried to read a book in the tub exactly once in my life and it was a horrid experience – paper is yucky when it gets wet, and your arm gets tired from holding it above water.

Now, there are some pertinent business and publishing issues involving pricing and restraint of trade. But that’s for people even more obsessed than myself. Here’s my own humble, yet oh-so-right opinion on the topic.

The Kindle is meant to be a wireless e-book reader. From all that I can see, it accomplishes this task. You can read books on it, and it even lets you change the text size if you’re growing old and decrepit like myself. You can purchase other electronic books to be read on the device through the device — a nifty idea in my book, although pretty dangerous to my financial well-being, based on how easy it sounds to do. If it makes reading easier for some people or brings more reading choices to more rural areas that don’t have a lot of libraries, or the Barnes and Noble or Borders uber-bookstores, then more power to it.

Does anyone have a Kindle yet? What do you think? Can I borrow it?

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6 Responses to “Kindle or Kindling?”

  1. New Gadgets | Kindle or Kindling? Says:

    […] Original post by WordHappy […]

  2. Betty Olson Says:

    The price alone is enough to flatten my curiosity, but I did take time today to read the early “reviews”, not all of which were positive. All things considered, personally I spend too much time looking at computer screens and the idea of the Kindle replacing my “real” books is inconceivable. That said……Amazon says the Kindle is SOLD OUT! What I’d like to see is Amazon offering a 30-day free trial for this new gizmo to see if they’ve actually perfected the software etc and to evaluate how useful or enjoyable it really is. Since that’s not likely to happen, I’m ignoring it …….for now.

  3. toddiedowns Says:

    I read a lot of the early reviews as well, and noted (as did many others) that many many of the negative comments were by people who had not yet used one. Much like myself, I suppose. . .

    One of the questions I’ve had recently is, if e-readers as a whole take off, what that will do to the used book market. Can people sell their read Kindle books on Ebay? While I have a gigundous paper library, I have easily probably donated or given or resold as many books. Just a little more food for thought.

  4. Jill Says:

    Toddie – I don’t have a Kindle and don’t expect to get one, however, there’s a homegrown Ohio company that does audiobooks on a device called the Playaway – they are made in Solon now and I’m organizing a field trip to check out their facility. 🙂 You can read what I wrote about the Kindle v. the Playaway here (the Playaway folks comment in there somewhere too).

  5. toddiedowns Says:

    Hi Jill –
    Thanks for introducing me to the Playaway. It sounds like a nifty product for someone who enjoys audiobooks. To me, there’s a huge shift between paper books and audiobooks. I need that visual paper input. As much respect as I have for the audiobook industry — the voice talent, the amount of titles available, and everything else — I’ve just never been able to get into them. It’s the power of the eye over the power of the ear.

  6. Jill Says:

    I only started to use them we had kids and I used the treadmill. The kids really love them – still, even though they read too. But I know what you mean about the tactile fix.

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