Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Kindle or Kindling?

Song Stuck on the Brain: Help! by the Beatles

I found out today that my book Missing Pieces is available to purchase for Amazon's new Kindle book reader, and I'm not sure what I think of that.

It's not that fact that it's available for digital download, it's the idea of Kindle period. The Techie/Geek side of me thinks Kindle is the coolest thing since Cheeze Whiz. Think of the space I'd save in my office? I have six bookshelves crammed to the gills and more books stacking up on my desk. Buying new books on download saves space. It also allows me to have my books with me at all times. Yippee! An electronic security blanket! I would carry it around like a long lost appendage and read during every free moment.

Then there's the downside. Like how it makes it harder to trade books with friends. Or how it would cost me a fortune to convert my current library to disc. And heaven forbid, I know as an author I should oppose buying books at a discount or off ebay because it damages the profits for the writer and publisher, but I don't oppose it. I highly support buying books at a reasonable price and re-selling them to save waste. But with Kindl'es download, there's no way to do that. True it saves on paper, but the book price is set. You have no other options.

But for me, the biggest downside is the loss of my friends. I love being surrounded by their whispering pages and colorful jackets. Feeling their weight and presence fill a room like a comforting presence. Seeing their sheer numbers makes me smile. Holding a Kindle in my hand doesn't give me the same feeling. There are no pages to touch or smell. No colorful images to admire. Kindle saps all the romance out of books, and yet I can see how it could also be the salvation for the written word. Books are expensive to produce, people are going green more and more and that means examining our use of natural resources for paper.

Does that mean traditional paper printed books are on their death beds? No. Not completely. I think there will always be hold outs, romantics and traditionalists that want to feel the paper under their fingertips. Just like some photographers will use traditional film over digital until the day they die (or film manufacturing dies).

I for one hope that we can find a happy medium. Would I buy a Kindle? Yes. As soon as the price drops to a more reasonable level. Will I give up all my paper books? Not on your life. I'm loyal to all my friends through thick and thin.


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