Amazon has just announced the release of the Kindle 2, an electronic reading device that has taken aim at the intersection of booklust and gadget-philia in my avaricious little heart.
Three hundred fifty-nice bucks or not, I want one. I want to be able to buy books and have them appear, as if by magic, at the touch of a button. I want to be able to store as many of them as I want without having them pile up all over my house. I want to have the cool new tool and take it for a test drive.
I want... (Wiping away drool)
Or do I? Because I love the tactile pleasure of the page, the smell of the new ink and paper, the craft and thought that went into the embossing of the title's letters, the font and the layout and artwork and all the little details. I love the feeling of reading books as prior generations read them, of pulling myself out of technology's slipstream and reverting to a slower-paced world.
Also, to me, the joy of discovering a great book isn't complete until I've loaned it to a friend, and we've discussed it. But the Kindle, terrific as it it, won't allow you to pass books along to others. In a way, that's great for authors, since it lessens the chance the electronic version of their labor will be distributed far and wide for free. But it also deprives these same writers of the chance to earn new fans.
Besides, as much as I admire the Kindle's cleverness, I'm also very aware that Amazon's got itself a terrific little racket going, since Kindle users can only purchase Kindle books through Amazon. As the device grows more popular (and it's bound to, particularly since Oprah recently declared how much she loved it) what will this do to my favorite brick & mortar bookstores, particularly the independent booksellers nearest and dearest to my heart? (Sending a shout-out to my friends at Katy Budget Books and Houston's Murder by the Book, among others. You folks are what book selling's all about!)
I'm not sure I want to live in a world where cool, little stores with employees who know books and hand-sell them can't survive, a world where Amazon -- much as I love it -- and e-retailers (should you use another brand of e-reader) are the only game in town. So for the time being, I'm holding off on purchasing a Kindle.
Besides, I've decided it would be waaaay too dangerous to have my credit card on file and only the touch of a button between me and my addiction. I shudder, thinking of the book bill I'd rack up.
So what about the rest of you? Any Kindle fans here? If not, are you waiting for the price to come down, or does the idea of reading from a screen leave you cold?