December 29, 2009

New Books & Old Books, Luddites & Morons

I am a card-carrying geek. Always have been, am guessing always will be. And as a geek, I love books and love love love gadgets. When I was a kid the little clip-on booklights were cool. Then the palm pilot, Walkman, iPod, Blackberry, iPhone. All vitally important toys that have endlessly enriched my life.

The newest gadget for book lovers is Amazon's Kindle electronic book reader, and I finally got mine a couple of weeks ago. What can I tell you? It's luuuuuuv. My Kindle is fun and fresh (gadget!), and portable (the damn thing is the size of a book and credit card thin) and totally cool.

As always, content is king, and the fact that the first book I read on my Kindle, Craig Ferguson's American on Purpose, totally rocked was fortunate. Next up is the latest John Irving novel.

Just like iPods have changed how we listen to music, ebooks are changing how we read books. Not familiar with the Kindle? Think an iPod for books, with a screen the size of a hardcover novel, where you download the books you want directly to your e-reader. Books range from free to about ten bucks.

Book lovers are migrating away from paper to electronic book readers.

Are the publishers being smart about it? Nope. Simon and Schuster recently announced they are delaying the ebook release of core titles by big authors like Jodi Picault and Don Delillo (both of whom I buy) until about 4 months after hardcover release date to protect hardcover sales. So do they think that Mr New Kindle Addict, aka me, is going to rush out and pay $25 for the paper version of the book because they won't let me purchase and download it? Or am I simply gonna choose the convenience of some other title for instant download, quite possibly a book from a publisher other than them?

Geez, morons, way to look at the faltering music industry and decide to repeat their mistakes. Let's ignore the new technology. Let's shut out the book buyers and follow the dinosaurs. Or, why not embrace the people who spent $250 plus on a bookreader and sell them newer, faster, more? Douchebags.

The tide is turning in the book world. On Christmas Day, e-books outsold traditional books at Amazon (and yes there are other e-book readers from Sony and Barnes and Noble, though no one really gives a crap as the Kindle rules in popularity and books available).

Are all books available? No. there are 400,000 titles, with more coming. Some they just haven't gotten to yet, others are holdouts. You won't find the Beatles on iTunes, and you won't find Harry Potter on Kindle. Not sure why. Luddites.

All this will work out as electronic books become the norm like iPods have. Publishers and retailers will rise to the occasion or fall behind.

What does Alfie think? The little dude is not so enamored of the Kindle. He already has to deal with the laptop on my lap, stealing his rightful place, and now I have a second magical lightbox taking up space. Not that it slows the little guy down; plonking on the keys, he just climbs on top of the computer or sprawls across the Kindle to ensure he is the centre of attention. And all is as it should be...


Michael Rivers said...

My best friend LOVES his Kindle. He always has the latest tech-gadget so this was no surprise!

Kevin said...

Will I ever be your centre of attention?

Brahm said...

Kevin... as always, you are the absolute favourite human!!!!

marymac said...

I love you. I am jealous you have a Kindle. I spent my Kindle money on the Beatles USB for my teen for Christmas. Damn selflessness (and motherhood).
I started a book club today- come check it out! And my blog is on Kindle!!! ;)

Honey B. said...

Ohh, I can't wait for the Kindle....soon, I hope!

retailrecruit said...

Think the book industry and the music industry have reacted slowly and without vision to the new online reality? If they are dinosaurs in this regard, the newspaper industry is pre-dinosauric in their attitudes. I should know........

A Mom With A View said...

I totally stupid of them..I just got my kindle for Xmas...I love it so much...they better wake up and smell the scent of technological advancement...Hi There ..Im a new follower..!!

Jennifer said...

I saw that you recently started following my blog. Welcome :)

Muffy St. Bernard said...

When the Kindle wasn't available in Canada I really, really wanted it...but when it finally arrived I thought "Hmmm."

I love my iPod and I've stopped buying CDs, so it isn't that I'm resistant to the technology. I am happily digitizing all of my music and storing the old CDs in my crawlspace, never to be seen again.

But there IS a difference with the Kindle: digitizing your existing books isn't practical. This got me thinking of where the iPod/Kindle comparison breaks down: digitizing music requires nothing more than an A/D converter. Digitizing a book is not -- and probably never will be -- a quick, cheap, or automatic task.

Why does this matter? Only because I re-read all my old bizarre books, and because I generally scour abebooks and used book stores for obscure gems. It just isn't cost-effective for a publisher to digitize those books for me, and I can't do it myself. To go back to the iPod example, it's as though 80% of my favourite music wasn't available...and never would be.

I can certainly see the worth of the Kindle for new and/or popular books, and I'll eventually buy one for that reason. But unless somebody invents a really spectacular automatic book-scanner, I see a big difference between how I use my iPod and how I'd use a Kindle.

Brahm said...

Okay I have now read two books on the Kindle, and am still totally feeling the luuuv.

That being said, Muffy you make some great points here - I too have uploaded 100s of cds on to my computer, and with the books is simply not going to happen. Old favourites will remain old favourites, in the format I currently have them.

And while things like art books, cook books, etc, are and will be available, they seem wonky to me on a screen. Maybe as technology evolves will be more pragamatic with photos and format, though not sure will have the same experience factor.

I like the touch/feel of the kindle in its own way, like how it saves my page automatically when I turn it off, and love how portable it is --- this thing will be amazing for travel.

What else works for me on the kindle? The novelty fun factor of course, plus the instant gratification of getting a book right now. I don't miss the touch and feel of the paper as much as I thought, or at all actually.

One thing that surprised me --- as one of the books I read is an autobiography, I do miss the thumbing through pictures as I read the various chapters of his life. The visual component isnt there.

Gotta decide what to read next. The adventure continues...

Post a Comment

Comments are like chew toys and favourite treats. Alfie says thanks!