Thursday, July 30, 2009

Kindle Vs DTB (Dead Tree Book)

Like many people, Michelle Richmond can't imagine reading a book on an electronic device. In her article "Book vs. Kindle: head-to-head", she shows a You Tube video made by Pete at Green Apple Books demonstrating a book sale versus the sale of a Kindle.

The article states:

Cost of the actual, paper-and-ink book: $15.00. Sales tax: $1.25. Length of transaction: 25 seconds. Number of signatures required: 1 (none if paid in cash). Potential risks: negligible.

Cost of the Kindle: $359. Cost of book (different title of comparable price) to read on the Kindle: $9.99. Sales tax: none. Number of signatures required: 4. Number of initials required: 3. Potential risks, as recited aloud by the Kindle guy: "Caution: For personal medical devices, such as pacemakers and hearing aids, consult with your physician or the manufacturer...failure to follow these instructions could result in electrical shock." Length of transaction: 1 minute and 20 seconds, plus signatures and reading of contract. Passwords required: 1.

I assume Michelle Richmond has never actually used a Kindle, or she might realize how inaccurate all that blurb really is. Having been a DTB reader for 30+ years and a Kindle reader for just several months, here's my reality...

Buying a book:
- First try to remember to get to the mall before I finish current reading material.
- If not, hop in the car at 9.30pm and hope to get there before Borders closes.
- Drive 7 miles to Borders with some time to spare, and flip through some books trying to find what I want. If I'm lucky, I can get the book and be home by 10.30pm.
- Yikes, they don't have what I want. No reading material tonight!
- Next day after work, drive 25 miles to the nearest large bookstore. Get what I want and drive 25 miles home.

Buying a Kindle book:
- Hmmmm, 9.30 in the evening, I finished my book.
- Press Menu and turn on Whispernet.
- Shop the kindle store, choose book after reading reviews and click "BUY".
- Wait about a minute for book to download.
- 9.35pm, get tucked up in bed & start my new book.

Or I could even download a whole bunch of free samples & sit at home choosing which ones to buy. And if I still buy a book I don't like? I can simply call Amazon for a refund.

Imagine a library filled with electronic reading devices, for which lengthy contracts must be signed and diligent promises made, deposits offered--devices for which there can be no amnesty. Imagine a library, or a bookstore, that doesn't smell like books.

Well that's the thing. I don't need a library of electronic devices any more than I need a library of DTB. 1,500 books on one device & I'm a busy gal for a while. Oh, there's another cost off my list: don't need to buy a few bookcases for 1,500 books. Not to mention free eBooks on Amazon - or even more from - thousands of classics in the public domain, or free author promos that has let me tear up my card to the public library.

The debates about book smells & the feel of paper reminds me of the arguments years ago, that CDs could never replace vinyl. Many of those people are now seen with iPods stuck to their heads. And if we're going to get really picky about authenticity, then how about we demand book publishers use quills and write on vellum? And in Latin.

When I'm reading a good book, I wouldn't notice if it smelled of melted chocolate or felt like velvet. For me, reading is all about the story. I'm a story-junky. I read every chance I get, every single day. The Kindle's made it almost too easy so now I can even read my 1,200 page book at the supermarket checkout or choose to listen to it while I'm driving the kids to swimming class.

Just like paper & printing presses brought affordable books to the masses, eReaders also open up new worlds of reading. I'm thrilled that such devices can make reading more convenient for millions of readers, and as technology improvements and more competitions brings prices lower, then all the better.

Each to their own, of course. But please, if you're going to dismiss something, make sure you really know why.

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