Jacob Zinn :: journalist + photographer

Don’t get swindled by the Kindle

Posted in Books, Electronics, Opinion by Jacob Zinn on August 14, 2009

The Amazon Kindle sucks.

It’s ugly, it’s bland and it fits in your pocket about as well as a portable record player.

But Amazon must have thought there was a nerdy market for this because the first Kindle sold out within five and a half hours of its release.

Before Kindle, ebooks never caught on, but after 21 months on the market, the Kindle has. Kinda.

Obviously, it comes with features that you can’t get with books. It has a web browser, reads .PDFs, and for a price, you can group your book collection with your daily newspaper.

You can adjust text size, but you can’t change the typefaces and its monochrome display can only make reading tedious.

Not to mention the iPhone–on top of all its other features–has a free ebook reader. There’s an app for that.

But the obsession to have everything we read on a screen is absurd. If I have to plug in and charge an electronic device to read something better suited to paperback, there must be something wrong with me.

There’s no sentimental value on digital books. When you have a hard cover copy of a book, you can feel the material, the texture of the pages. If you meet the author, they can sign it. You can lend it, sell it, donate it and it can be reused over and over again.

Oh yeah, and with the recent withdrawl of George Orwell’s 1984 and Animal Farm from the Kindle library, you can bet other content restrictions will be put in place. (Believe it or not, Mein Kampf is available on the Kindle.)

Amazon’s Kindle hasn’t changed how we read the way Apple’s iPod has changed how we listen to music. Digital music works; digital reading doesn’t.

At least, not on that poorly-contrasted screen…

Extra Reading Material: this webcomic by Penny Arcade. Not compatible with the Kindle.

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