I read a lot more than the average American. According to this Harris poll, only 37 percent of those surveyed read more than ten books a year. Last year, I read 113 books in one year. Given the volume of reading that I do, a lot of folks ask me if I'm going to get a Kindle 2 now that Amazon has revamped its wireless reader. My husband would be ecstatic if I replaced the stacks of books in our living room with a Kindle. And I have to admit, I'm sort of excited about the idea of being able to store and carry over 1,000 books on one lightweight device.
John Biggs does a nice job of making the case for and against buying the new Kindle, and several of the "don't buy" reasons jumped out at me. First, it's flimsy. Since I am notoriously hard on the electronic devices in my life, I would worry incessantly about breaking the Kindle. Even worse, it's battery-powered. I can't remember to keep my cell phone charged, so I'm dubious about my ability to keep the Kindle charged and ready to read. Third, Biggs notes that the new Kindle is bottom-heavy, which means if you fall asleep reading, it will bonk you on the nose. I'm not so worried about the nose-bonking since I usually end up with a book falling on me when I read in bed, but I worry about what would happen if you fell asleep reading the Kindle, then threw it out of the bed at night or rolled over and smushed it. Books can survive this sort of treatment -- they may get a little bent and bedraggled when you throw them or crush them, but they're still ready to read the next day.
The funniest "anti-purchase" reason supplied by Biggs: "Flight attendants will tell you to turn it off on take-off and landing. You can’t explain that it’s epaper and uses no current. You just can’t. It’s like explaining heaven to bears."
And the final reason? There's just something about a print book that I can't give up. Since I read text on a computer screen all day, picking up a print book is a signal to me that I'm reading for pleasure rather than for work, that I'm off-duty. And I like the sheer variety of books, their different sizes, shapes, and smells. I'm not ready to sacrifice those sensual aspects of reading yet, even if it would mean a tidier living room.