Monday, February 09, 2009

Chasya Milgrom sees the new Kindle

Well, the wait is over. This morning, after months of buzzing and anticipation, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos introduced the new Kindle 2.0 at the Morgan Library & Museum here in New York. Techno bloggers the country over got their answer as to what the new Kindle will feature. (There is now a feature called Whispersync. I’m not entirely sure what the point of it is, but I’ll admit I like the sound of it.)

My own feelings about ebooks in general are mixed. We here use Sony readers to read manuscripts (and sometimes books). Rather than schlepping hundreds and hundreds of pages around in tote bags like in the old days (ok, it was just last year), we have a slim lightweight contraption no bigger than a half sheet of paper and no thicker than a Hershey bar. This is insanely and remarkably convenient for those in the publishing industry, but I’ve been wondering how many readers will happily spend a couple of hundred dollars on a similar device. As it turns out…a lot. The Kindle has done well, selling 500,000 units in the past year. The Kindle 2.0 is expected to do $1.2 billion dollars in sales.

All this has me a bit perplexed. You see, for me, when it comes to reading published books, I can’t help reaching for the real thing. I love to flip through the pages and scan the book; to hold it in my hands. The feel of it is part of the experience. I like to watch as the pages go by. I was talking to a friend and he agreed. He also made the interesting point that especially with mysteries and thrillers, part of the excitement of the book comes from seeing the page count get lower and lower because you know you’re nearing the end and the answer is finally coming. It all makes for a broader experience.

From the looks of it, ebooks are only going to become more popular, especially now that selections are getting larger and larger. Books that are published are now automatically published simultaneously in ebook form. We’ve all heard detractors forecasting the death of the printed book before. As for me, I hope that never happens, because despite the ease of carrying hundreds of pages in the palm of my hand, nothing feels as good as the weight of a book.

Then again, as long as people are reading, I'm certainly not complaining!


  1. I think the majority of serious readers - and I say that very loosely - will continue to prefer print. But casual readers, particularly those who have a fondness for gadgets, will gravitate towards e-books.

    There's a lot more of the latter online, particularly dominating tech discussions, which is why we hear so much doom in those circles about print books. (The Internet is not exactly the best focus group for examining the values of print media.) Yet, e-books offers great opportunities to hook more of that audience into reading more books, which ultimately is great for publishing.

  2. I hope there will be room for both. I love both for different reasons :)I would be interested to see what the breakdown is for 21 and younger - what % use kindles vs books. That is the future consumer and our market now.

  3. I also love the feel of books, but there are several reasons I am glad I have a Kindle. I live in New York and have limited space, so the more books I can hold on it, the better. The Kindle also takes up the same space in my bag whether I'm reading Acacia or Gatsby. I have a limited budget, and Amazon is offering killer deals on a lot of Kindle sales. Also, regular e-books are hard to read on the screen; sometimes I want to read them and simply can't handle staring at the screen after a day of work. I can put most e-books onto my Kindle and read more comfortably.

    I could probably write a sonnet to my Kindle...but those are the top reasons I love it. I don't think I'll ever completely let go of print books, but I'm a big e-reader fan.

  4. I love the feel and smell of books too, but after packing the umpteenth box of books during a recent international move, I was ready to crack. Kindles don't mildew and their pages can't get foxed. You don't have to cram 50 of them into a box and then end up hefting dozens of boxes around. Still, even a Luddite can open a book. And books never need batteries.

  5. I just worry about dropping it in the bathtub.

    One thing about all this "electronic" stuff -web or kindle, is eye fatigue. As I get older, my eyes feel strained after awhile on the electronic stuff.
    I also notice that when I read electronic stuff, my eyes tend to skip lines and words.

    But yeah, I wonder about dropping it in the tub, or the batteries running down and finding that I've forgotten my charger. And quite frankly... I don't look forward to packing yet another charger when I travel!

  6. I personally love the feel and smell of a real book. But I lust after an ebook reader. Space is a great reason - I only have so much space on my shelves. I'll clean them out every 6 months, and rearrange everything, and it'll be double-stacked again before I know it. Another reason for my lust is when traveling. The last trip I took (for work), I brought 5 books with. While out of town, I bought another 3. With an ebook reader, I wouldn't have had to figure out how to lug 'em all home. And how could I not like the idea of taking my entire library with me, anywhere? =)

  7. I rarely ever get to the books I've brought along when I travel. I'm too busy nosing about and talking to people to bother with cracking the books. As a result, several books have been left behind in far flung places --I think one is in a hotel in Jaipur, if anyone is interested.

  8. Funy, for me, watching the page number/count is a sure sign I'm not interested in the book!

    Haste yee back ;-)