I’ve been telling people excitedly about electronic paper and e-books since it was a sci-fi dream of the future, but I haven’t made the jump yet. Chris of Sonictruths excellent article about how he became the poster boy for the Kindle sparked my enthusiasm that perhaps I should buy one of these graphite marvels, but a few doubts remain in my mind.
I’m the first to admit I spend way too much time staring at backlit screens (Note: My wife has since informed me that she is in fact the first to admit this) and as I have keratoconus the idea of reading from a surface that doesn’t sear my eyes and induce migraines is one that appeals. It isn’t just the reading surface I like the idea of. I moved house a few months back and experienced a damascene moment on the subject of stuff. Having moved from a single room to a one bed flat, then a two bed, then a three bedroom house I found myself downsizing for the first time ever. The cycle of filling my place with crap then getting a bigger place had to be broken. Divesting myself of my hard won junk was daunting at first, but driving back from the charity shop, or the tip felt liberating. I felt lighter without being tied down to possessions I didn’t need and didn’t use. I used to take huge pride in the hundreds of CDs and DVDs I own, or my shelves full of books. Now I just think how much more space I would have if I didn’t have book shelves, or CD racks in the living room. Music and video are already taken care of I now have a subscription to spotify and lovefilm so buying CDs and DVDs is a thing of the past. Books are the last piece of the puzzle.
When I lived in London an spent an hour and a half on the tube every day my consumption of books way legendary. I read very quickly and with seven and a half hours of tube reading plus any free time I would consume a couple of novels a week. Since moving to the country I don’t miss the tube, but I do miss the reading. I had become reliant on my enforced sessions and without it I simply stopped reading.
I think of my self as an almost but not quite early adopter. My tendency towards thrift makes it too painful for me to buy a thousand pound gizmo only to find a better one in the shops. ( I made an exception with the EEE which I bought on the day of release ) I usually set my self a set of conditions for when I want to get on board a technology bandwagon. With e-book readers it was small and light with minimal screen bezel (My only dislike with the first generation EEE PC) and have a decent contrast ratio, good page turn speed and not cost a stupid price. The third gen Kindle seems to have all these things with a vengeance, but something stays my hand
I’m far from a Linux obsessed electronic freedom bore (Others may debate this point), but I have no desire to live in a walled garden where I’m not free to control the media I have bought. When I buy a device I have always chosen one which mounts like a USB stick and allows free transfer of files without requiring pointless DRM and software acting as a gatekeeper and as a result I have never owned an iPod, or installed iTunes and I went Android rather than Linux. The Kindle store seems like such a wonderfully integrated service that it’s starting to turn my head. The idea of giving up my freedom to escape to a different device if the Amazons tech gets left behind in the future does worry me although frankly I don’t think this is any more likely than Apple loosing their grip on the MP3 player market. The razors and blades model of selling the readers and the books allows Amazon to soundly undercut the likes of Sony who have to make a profit on the hardware without the promise of book sales in the future to look forward to. Without another credible platform like the Nook in the UK Kindle dominance is a practical certainty. The fact that the Kindle seems designed from the outset to be a standalone platform without the tedious need to tether it to iTunes that to my mind ruins the iPad is another huge plus.
Succumbing to the temptation of the Kindle seems inevitable, but perhaps this is no bad thing. The way publishing is run at the moment is frankly ludicrous. Publishers produce thousands of copies of big name authors only to pulp them to make roads The holy grail of the e-book world now is the full colour FMV wonder that is Mirasol, but I figure this is still at least five years away from on the market and affordable.
Damn it I think I’ve just talked my self into buying one…