Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Of books and electrons ...

    I love books, all kinds of books. I can read a user manual the same way I read a good piece of fiction. I love to learn new things as much as I like to get lost in my imagination as I am swept away on a galactic quest to save the universe. Books can inspire, teach, inform and even change opinions. Books are a very powerful thing.

    Books are things. They can be held, burned and even torn apart. The feel of paper against your fingers is a very real sensation. Seeing words printed on a page gives them a sense of finality that is hard to explain or quantify. Most of us have been reading books since before we can remember, from the earliest days of our youth.

    I own many books. Nothing rare or exotic, but I do own a lot of them. They take up more space than I initially imagined. Whenever I get a new book, I look at its small size and think nothing of where to put it when I am done with it. I just buy it, read it and if the book is lucky I will take the time to find a nook to cram it into on one of my many book shelves. More than likely it will get moved from coffee table to the end table, from there to the headboard, then on to my desk, and finally back to coffee table more times than I can count. Eventually, it will most likely end up in an unlabeled cardboard box in the storage shed. It seems like a semi-tragic end for a thing that, at least for a time, brought me some small semblance of joy. 

    Now however, it is the twenty-first century. The mighty electron will free us all. I have the Kindle app on both my Macbook Pro and my Android phone. I do not have a Kindle device of my own. My wife has one that she uses occasionally and my son has one that he looking to sell in order to get some money. As for me, I do not yet own one.

    I own many eBooks. My Kindle library has been steadily growing over the last few years. I still purchase "real books" made of paper and binding. I still read and enjoy them. However, I find myself looking for the Kindle version more and more often.

    I don't think I will purchase a Kindle device. It would make more sense, at least from my point of view, to wait and purchase an iPad device and get the Kindle App for iPad rather than purchase a Kindle.

    Yet, I still want a Kindle. I have used the one my wife has. I like the fit in my hands. For just sitting and reading its a good fit, a great fit. I really like the Kindle, even more so than the more powerful Nook. It just feels right when you hold it. The advantage the Kindle has over a Nook or iPad is simple. It knows what it is and so do you. You don't have to think about loading any apps, or being interrupted by a "low battery" warning, or even worse, new email. Its just an electronic book. It waits quietly on the book shelf with the other "real" books waiting to be picked up and read.

    For pure enjoyment of reading the Kindle has won me over. Yes, it is mostly impractical when compared to other eBook readers. Many others are "better" in many ways. Some have color, some have an "app store" of sorts and still others can even be used as a near laptop replacement. The Kindle has none of these. Yet for me, it has won. In the end, I think I will purchase a Kindle.