Feel like adding fuel to the fire? Burn your books and buy a Kindle.
Compared to the rest of the trendy gadgets out on the market, from a purely aesthetic point of view, the Kindle falls a bit flat. In a world where we walk around with all kinds of electronic devices that play music, store images, record videos and send text messages, the Kindle seems to be a one trick pony. It has clearly deviated from the shiny exteriors of the newest phones and the eye catching colours of the ipod family. In fact, holding the device feels almost a bit budget. (Never mind the fact that there was a huge waiting list to order these online at Christmas, Ebay auctions were going through the roof and the only way to find one for my mother before Santa was to buy one second hand for almost twice the price.)
Is it possible that we feel this way because we’ve been seduced by the beauty of unnecessary iphone apps? Possibly. Is it because we want it to not only display the books we have recently downloaded but also tell us how many of our friends are online while simultaneously checking our emails? Sure, but why not? All things considered, is it possible that all the downfalls listed above, are actually what make the Kindle so successful to begin with? While other companies are trying to develop gadgets that offer every single service under the sun bundled up into some sort of “killer device,” the Kindle simply offers one service. One product and one purpose – access to books.
The benefits of reading a physical book are obvious – the tactile quality of turning the pages, the luxury of highlighting a line you want to remember, or even the simple pleasure of folding a corner down. So why is the Kindle so popular?
To start with, we can download entire books in minutes, paying approximately £6.50 each – regardless of it being paperback or hardback. We never have to worry about the book being out of stock and the Kindle bookstore is probably bigger than our local Waterstones, not to mention, a lot less crowded. A Sex in the City episode comes to mind where Charlotte is afraid to buy a self help book in fear of someone she knows catching her. With a Kindle, problem solved, crisis averted. On the technical side, the Kindle offers adjustments in text size and contrast, making it more accessible.
In conclusion – do we think the Kindle is fabulous? Yes. Instant access to reading material along with the ability to carry a year’s worth of university text books in one hand definitely has its appeal. With a new version of the Kindle now on the market with more storage space and a longer battery life, its only a matter of time before this product becomes more widely used and hopefully more affordable.
So who wins? In the battle of book vs. machine, the paperback still pulls out slightly ahead in the sense that you never have to worry about running out of batteries before you finish a chapter…