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Random Thoughts (Blog)

Kindle: Technology's Robin

Posted on March 17, 2010 at 3:37 PM

My cousin, whom I used to fondly call Big Walking Jim,and I used to hang out with these two girls. Time and my stellar memory have erased their names, but for the sake of my story we’ll call them Batgirl and Robin. Now, we both really liked Batgirl. She was cute and fun and smart and generally the kind of girl that you wanted to hang out with. Robin, however, was kind of moody and sullen. (But not in a cool/artistic Fiona Apple kind of way.) She was the kind of girl that would look at a half-full glass of water and say, “That water will probably make you sick.” But she was best friends with Batgirl and – super complicating things – the daughter of my boss at the time. (And I could just tell that he *really* wanted me to hit it off with her. But anyhow…;) It became clear early on that, like the superhero duo, you didn’t really care if Robin showed up WITH Batman, but it totally wasn’t cool if you were getting together and all you got was Robin.


To me, that’s the Kindle. It’s just this kind of “Mehhh” device.  It’s not a computer, it's barely a Web browser, it’s just a digital reader. Now, I love technology, and E-ink does sound really cool, but Kindle just strikes me as technology for technology’s sake, like Robin. (Granted, my experience with Kindle is so far pretty much limited to what I’ve read about it and sitting next to someone on a plane for like 3 hours who had one, so this is not the typical expert opinion I like to postulate.) Having said that, here are 5 reasons why I just don’t get the whole Kindle thing:


1)     I like the tactile connection that comes from holding a book. Flipping the pages, seeing how far I’ve come and how much of the story remains. The smell and feel of the paper and the crisp sound of flipping each page. It’s my link to the author, and I’m not getting that from a cold,silicone Kindle. And when you picture yourself cozying up next to a warm fireplace on a blustery, rainy day, a nice cup of cocoa with marshmallows floating in it, old Shep dozing faithfully at your feet. And there you are. Holding a Kindle. What are you, some kind of heartless Cyborg?!


2)     The Kindle can hold like 100s of books…am I going to be gone for SO long that I can’t find my way to a bookstore or library in literally months or years? I do the vast majority of my reading at home and during the occasional business travel, and taking 2 books has pretty much always served my reading workload for any periods away from home.  And, really, am I carrying so much stuff that I just can’t fit two books into my luggage? (That was rhetorical, but I sense you looking for an answer, so no, I’m not.)


3)     I barely like to take my precious iPod to the pool or beach, so what am I gonna do with a Kindle when I come out of the water all glistening like Daniel Craig in Casino Royale? Do I really want to hold this multi-hundred dollar thing with salt water, sweat and suntan lotion running all over it or just toss it aside with a Devil-may-care-attitude while sand blows on it? No. No I don’t.


4)     I like to borrow books, not buy them. I would say that 99% of my reading material comes from the local library. If I had to buy every book – Kindle’s model – I don’t know that I would read anything more complex than my microwave lunch instructions. (And, seriously, after like the 5th meal, I had already caught on to cutting a vent over the vegetables and letting it rip for 5 minutes, so I don’t even read that anymore.) Also, if you do buy, part of the joy of owning a great book is lending it to others for them to read and experience. With the Kindle, not so much.


5)     The screen just isn’t very big. I like to be able to see more than a couple of paragraphs at a time, and with Kindle, I feel like I’d be constantly flipping back and forth between pages, I mean screens. Also, if you’re so all-fired up to read on your computer, just download the free Kindle emulator software and use your laptop or iDevice for all your Kindling. There, I just saved you $259!


I’m sure that someone out there owns a Kindle, so I’d love for you to tell me why I’m wrong. Or, send me a picture of you hurtling it through the air like an Olympic Discus champion. Either way, whatever the format – Kindle, book, papyrus and clay tablet – whatever gets you reading more can't entirely a bad thing. Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got some TV to watch...

 

Categories: Mar 2010, Books, Electronics

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