Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Great Debate: Amazon Kindle vs. Real Books?

Amazon's kindle prides itself to be 'revolutionary' and the 'future' of book reading. It can hold over two hundred books and you can buy books for your kindle at prices as low as $9.99. A little bit of it's description goes as follows, straight from Amazon itself:

Three years ago, we set out to design and build an entirely new class of device—a convenient, portable reading device with the ability to wirelessly download books, blogs, magazines, and newspapers. The result is Amazon Kindle.

We designed Kindle to provide an exceptional reading experience. Thanks to electronic paper, a revolutionary new display technology, reading Kindle’s screen is as sharp and natural as reading ink on paper—and nothing like the strain and glare of a computer screen. Kindle is also easy on the fingertips. It never becomes hot and is designed for ambidextrous use so both "lefties" and "righties" can read comfortably at any angle for long periods of time.

I only know of about two people who have a Kindle. That being out of the hundreds of friends I have (and that's not being sarcastic. Welcome to the graces of facebook). The two people who have the Kindle are not big book readers. They read occasionally but would never considering themselves, or be called, book worms. All of my friends who are big book worms don't own this and don't seem like they will any time soon.

And that brings me to the debate. While working at a bookstore I am constantly approached by customers with the question, are you interested in the Kindle and would you ever buy it? What do you think of it? And the question is constantly being asked amongst the booksellers themselves. Bookseller to bookseller, do you want the Kindle? Would you use it?

Here is my opinion of it:
I wouldn't use it. Really, it's all that simple. It does sound like a glorious design and I'd think that for busy business men who travel a lot it will be nice for them to quickly download a book as they're boarding a plane and read it during their flight. But for the rest of us? What is the point? The technology will be outdated in a year or so. I mean, already they have a new and improved version of the Kindle. So if I were to go buy one who is to say that it will still be around and usable in twenty years?

Books don't become outdated. I apologize but they do not. They will always be those paper bound objects that you can pick up, bend around, and read wherever you please. Those beautiful items that you stack on shelves so that when people walk into your home they go, wow, you've read all of those? I can pick up a book, throw a book, drop a book, and it won't get damaged. It won't break. I'm sure if you were to drop the oh so amazing kindle while walking down stairs something would break. But books seem a little tougher then that.

And both books and the Kindle, I am sure, would not fair well if being dropped into a tub of water. I think that's one subject where they are both equal.

So what do I think of the Kindle? I think it's appropriate for some people and would be worth the expense. But I like my hardcovered, mass market, paperback books just fine. I like having towering bookshelves that I can decorate with photo frames and the books I read. I've read over 500 books in my life and I own just about every single one that I've read. The Kindle only holds 200 books... that's not even half of the collection I have.

What's your stance on the Kindle vs Real Books debate? Do any of you own it and if so what are your thoughts between the old and the new? If you don't own it, do you intend to in the future?


  1. I'm wondering if the Kindle information you have is for the original Kindle? The latest gen 6" holds 1500 books and Amazon has Kindle books ranging in price from free on up. Most I've purchased have been in the 5-7 dollar range. I discovered Karen Marie Moning's Fever Series and Lara Adrian's Midnight Breed series through Kindle free reads. I don't own a Kindle (yet), but I do have the Kindle app for iPhone. While I love my books and will never go completely digital, I do enjoy my e-books a great deal. Some e-books are cheaper than the paperback version, great for those on a book budget. I like being able to carry several "books" at a time in my purse when traveling or running errands. From what I'm reading, Kindle has several other features I'm eager to check out. I do think the price for Kindle is a bit over inflated and I hope they eventually come down but according to Amazon they sell well. I don't think Kindle or any of the other popular e-readers will ever replace books, but I do like having a choice and enjoy both. :)

  2. I would so much rather have the real thing than the digital "copy" of the book. I love the smell of new books and you can't really get that from a Kindle.....That's just me though. I think real books beat out any computer one.

    Though I do see the convenience of a Kindle or iPhone with the book app. Like if you're always on the go or if you don't want to lug around your War and Peace book in your bag for fear of killing all feeling in your shoulder ;)

  3. If I became rich I'd get one. I'd only use it for books I didn't really care about though. You know, the stuff you read on holiday or whatever.
    The series that I love, I don't know, it's nice to see them lined up on the shelf. I collect the books that I love. Collecting ebooks is...not as fun somehow.

    Also books smell nice. What does the kindle smell like?

  4. I don't think I would buy a Kindle; I'd rather have physical books.

    I'm a touchy-feely kind of gal. I like texture. I'm also a cover whore so I like to look at covers, in color (I'm not sure if the Kindle is in color or not).

    As you mentioned, technology does get outdated pretty fast. Look how fast they came out with the Kindle 2! A small part of me is also afraid of technology and it's dependability; what if you suddenly lost (gasp!) all the books you had on your Kindle due to a glitch? Horror!

    I have the Kindle app on my iTouch and I do have quite a few books (oh wow, I just checked and I have 66 ebooks!) but I haven't gotten to them yet.

    You could say that I'm kind of biased at this point because I have yet to try reading an ebook but that's my opinion as it stands at this moment.

  5. I'm not interested in the Kindle. I enjoy holding my books and turning the pages. There's something about it that is calming to me. I also enjoy seeing them all stacked on my book shelf ready to be read or reread.

    The other thing about the Kindle is can you share the books on it? I'm one who like to share my books if I really liked it so others can hopefully enjoy the same book. I can't do that if they're all on one thing.

  6. would love to test drive a kindle, so to speak.

    would not love to see my book case disappear. i love my books. i occasionally write in them. i love their smell.

    and while a kindle could come in useful, technology becomes dated.

    books are timeless. ink and paper will [hopefully] never be old.

  7. I have the Kindle app for my iPod Touch (as well as other eReaders). I love it, simply because a tiny iPod is easier to hide from the boss than a book. ;) No, we're not allowed to read on the job, lol.

    There are certain books I have to have, have to hold. I love the flipping of the pages (even though Kindle and the other apps try to mimic that sound, the feel isn't there). But for some books, books that I'm not certain I'm going to enjoy, I don't mind reading it on my iPod.

    ...I was actually going to post this discussion on my blog, too! But I don't wanna be a copy cat!

    (PS: the Kindle app for my iPod was free. I think some smartphones can download them as well. And some books range from .99 cents to nothing. They're not guaranteed to be great, but who doesn't love free and cheap books?)

  8. My thoughts of kindle books are very much similar to yours. I will never stop loving books. They are books and they are beautiful and their pages are filled with wonderful words that will never fade, break, or be out of date. When you buy something like a kindle and you purchase tons of books on it, or even one book, that's not a book that you might be able to read ten years from now because something might happen to the actual kindle. I know that if i were to purchase a real-life book, i will be able to read it 10, 20, hell, 50 years from now because i don't need a machine to read it off of.

    Another problem that I have with the kindle is that it seems like it would be like reading from a computer screen, which KILLS my eyeballs. I can read an article or some other literary pieces off line, but i would never be able to read an entire book off of a small little computer screen. I've downloaded free books on my ipod touch but they are extremely difficult to read. I know that no matter when, i'll be able to pick up a book and read for HOURS without my eyes hurting (i mean, they hurt, but in a GOOD way, lol).

    So I am completely opposed to purchasing a kindle because I love the feel, look, and especially the SMELL of books. Aside from my love for paper and words on pages, a Kindle is EXTREMELY overpriced. Shit, with the price they are charging I would have a freakin field day in a used book store.

    Sorry if my opinion seems a little strong, but I just never quite understood people's obsession with the Kindle.

    -Greg, avid book reader/lover.


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