Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Not a big fan of e-book readers

A friend was kinda feeling me out to see how I felt about the Amazon Kindle. Apparently some friends and relatives are thinking about getting me a gift. I'm flattered, but I told him they should save their money. I'm not even interested in one, even as a gift.

One would think I'm the perfect guy for a Kindle. I've been reading more electronic books than paper ones. I've been reading electronic books for years on a variety of Palm Pilots. Still doing so as a matter of fact. Why wouldn't I want to upgrade to a much bigger screen?

Okay, the big screen would be nice. It's the rest of the package that's the problem. First off, their wonderful 3G network doesn't work were I live. That's how it sometimes is when you live in the hills. That removes a lot of its usefulness, at least while at home.

One thing that freaked me out is Amazon's ability to delete a book right out of your Kindle. They did that to George Orwell's 1984, of all books. If I remember right, there was a copyright issue. The thought that it was possible to reach into the Kindle and alter what was there proved to be a disturbing revelation that I never forgot. What else could be deleted or altered? Books that are "banned?" Books that the Powers that Be dislike? Paranoid, maybe, but they have the capability. We are expected to trust that they won't abuse it? After all, if you can't trust a faceless mega corporation, who can you trust?

The Kindle is overpriced for what it is. For that kind of money I can get a netbook computer. It's got a screen that's plenty big enough for reading books. It's compact and has decent battery life. They come with wi-fi (which I can use at home). I can read just about any e-book out there on one. Best of all, it's an actual computer with the functionality that comes with that. Nice.

One more thing. Even though I read electronic books, I personally own more real life paper books than most small town libraries. It's great to have books that don't need batteries and an expensive electronic platform for them to work. Sunlight or a candle will do the job.

Many of my favorite books are not available in electronic formate. Some are too esoteric. Others are from small runs put out by long defunct publishing houses. For a while my lovely wife went on a reading spree where she read nothing that was published less than 100 years ago. Will a Kindle work 100 years from now? Paper books published on quality paper, kept dry, survive 100 years surprisingly well.

Fix those little problems, Amazon, and you might have a customer. I'm not holding my breath.


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