Do you own a Kindle, or other e-reader? I don’t — yet. I use Kindle for PC from time to time, but I spend so much time staring at the computer screen for my job that the prospect of staring at it even longer to read a book is not really appealing most days. I love the solid feeling of a book in my hand and enjoy the comfort of turning the pages, saving my place with a favorite bookmark. But then again, trying to read on the sofa with a heavy book is sometimes awkward, and hard to hold when trying to angle it into the best light for reading. Bookmarks fall out, places are lost, pages sometimes get creased and mussed. And it’s not always convenient to carry a book for reading away from home.
I am distressed at hearing the rumors that Barnes & Noble and/or Borders could be closing after this holiday season. There are several reasons for this, of course, but the runaway success of Amazon’s Kindle certainly plays a part in it. B&N has its own e-reader, the Nook, but it’s not been nearly as successful as the Kindle. Amazon has said that Kindle e-books outsell hardcover books and will outsell paperback books this coming year. Some people are predicting the complete demise of the book as we know it, others say that there will always be a place for bound and paperback books.
So I am torn, regarding the Kindle. And Amazon has made it pretty hard to resist, now that Kindles are much less expensive than before. My sister and her husband both have them and love them. My daughter hates the idea of e-readers encroaching on traditional book territory. I am intrigued by the Kindle and am thinking about getting one eventually, but at the same time I mourn the demise of traditional books. But the words are what matter; does it really matter how those words are presented to us?
I think it matters most economically; publishing houses are increasingly offering e-book titles and some have made the switch to e-books altogether. Authors are being paid far less than before as a result, since e-books usually cost much less than traditional books, which makes it harder for authors to make ends meet. If B&N and Borders close, thousands of jobs will be lost. But there’s no stopping the e-book juggernaut. One high school back in Florida has replaced all of its textbooks with Kindles; the students think it’s great, they don’t have to carry heavy books, they have a dictionary at hand in the Kindle and can highlight and mark any of the text, which can’t be done in traditional school books. Who can argue with this kind of success?
I think that I will be purchasing a Kindle probably at some point within the next 6 months or so, despite some of my misgivings. What do you think? Do you have one, and how do you feel about what’s happening to traditional books?