18 August 2008

warming up to the kindle

There's nothing like losing yourself in a book. Not just the world within the book but the sensory experience -- the smell of the pages, the sound they make when you turn them, the feel of the paper between your fingers. But when I start to think about all of the paper used, the trees exterminated, to print books, magazines, and newspapers, it seems ridiculously wasteful. Especially since there's a paper-free alternative out there -- The Kindle (and other e-book devices).

And this little write-up on the Kindle is making me want one. Sheryl Eisenberg, for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), details her experience with the reading machine and the sacrifice of the good ol' fashioned printed word. In her words:

...I like the Kindle... a lot. What it lacks in the Proustian dimension, it makes up for in the practical. I would always want real physical books for the works I love best-- fine hardcover books at that. But for most of the ephemera I read, electronic versions are fine.

Years ago, I came to the same conclusion with regard to the newspaper when I gave up the print version to read it exclusively online. What I lost was the familiar smell and feel of newsprint and the fun of perusing the page layouts. What I gained was the web's look-up and cross-referencing capabilities and the knowledge that I was helping to preserve trees, whose dappled leaves, cooling shade and trilling birds exceed the delights of even the most beautifully printed page.

Read the whole story here.

While you're saving trees, you can also benefit from the convenience factor. You can carry around that 900-page classic, your favorite newspaper, and magazines, all in one small device that weighs less than the average paperback. Currently there are more than 150,000 books available, with more being added all the time. You can also upload Word documents, saving yourself the time and paper of printing out things like directions or manuscripts. One Kindle fan on Amazon even had her wedding officiated from the device.

My one hesitation to getting one is that it's another piece of electronics and it of course requires electricity. But it's apparently really efficient. With the wireless capabilities off it can last for a week without charging, so people recommend keeping it off when you're not actually downloading anything.

I'm probably not going to rush out and buy one, but maybe come holiday time I'll be asking Santa to leave one under the tree.