I have to admit that I am really partial to the look and feel of a book. I have been that way my entire life. I like the weight, look, and feel of a book. I enjoy turning the pages, and frequently scan the spines of my many books on the wall, each title a reminder of the stored information and creative thoughts contained therein.
Nevertheless, my partner Isabel is a technogadgetphile (new word just coined), and for her, amazon's new digital book player, known as a Kindle, was a MUST have item. You could now download scores of books at a fraction of their normally available price, and at the same time reduce the environmental impact on forests. Various reasons were hurled in my direction. I tried to resist them all, and so, when I found that she was leaving various very subtle clues that she wanted one (like my personal computer screen was conveniently left on Amazon's web site for a Kindle) I went and secretly bought the new Kindle 2 model, which showed up a week ago last Monday. Hey, I like to make her happy.
She was absolutely delighted of course. The sleek elegant design, the lack of weight, and its inherent environmentally friendly approach were all appealing to her. I could see the joy in her face, and her happiness was becoming my happiness. I was starting to believe...
However, I have never been one to think that technology alone rules. Technology should drive content. So, you can imagine my chagrin when I wanted to load up her new Kindle with some good and favorite books that I knew about and wanted her to read. Out of the 30 books that immediately came to mind (not out of print, mind you), not one was "Kindle ready." Oh....
So, I did some more searches, creative, and otherwise, again nothing. Sure, there were over 200,000 titles out there, but the ones that I searched for were always met with the same message "Ask the publisher to make a Kindle version." Well, I don't have the time to "ask the publisher," and I don't believe my lonely voice will make much of a difference to their business development office.
Granted, our tastes and interests in books are not necessarily mainstream. I guess the best analogy that one could give is having really discerning tastes in film, and having only a Blockbuster selection to choose from. Of course, you can always find titles at Blockbuster, but you are limited for the most part by business marketing decisions.
Finally, out of sheer frustration, and a desire to read more than the installed manual, Isabel downloaded a free book. It wasn't something that she would normally have read, but you can always learn from surprising encounters. She got into bed, she usually reads at night, and found that there was no brightness function. There was only an anti-glare function, which meant that she could not read at night, like you can on any portable cell phone. Another disappointment...and not the kind of joyful surprise that she was hoping to obtain.
Next to her, I was happy, book in hand, turning the pages of each creative idea.
The next day, she found that she could purchase an accessory that would allow her to separately plug in a lamp, as otherwise her Kindle 2 draws off too much electricity. I asked her, how will this be used on those late night flights across the ocean, where there is no plug? This was one of the reasons she purchased the Kindle, so she wouldn't have to cart around a lot of books when traveling.
Over a week later, her Kindle is still empty, and we have both returned to purchasing real books from amazon.com