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Weighing in on Kindle   Leave a comment

Sara Barbour posted in her blog an article entitled, “Kindle vs books: The dead trees society”. In it she expressed her apprehension of using or owning a Kindle, an e-book reader from Amazon. To her, the relatively new device doesn’t seem to fulfill the experience of owning and reading an actual book. I agree with her point that the novelty of owning and keeping a book can be a part of its enjoyment.

However, people will have their own opinion on how much novelty to place on a particular book. In my case, I easily get drawn in by the story that I barely notice physical characteristics of the book itself. This is not to say that I place little value on a book after I put it down. In fact, I still have a substantial collection of fantasy novels gathering dust on the shelves of my old room. Some of the books are early editions of reprints which can still be found today, others are simply out of print.

I have seriously considered Kindle early this year, but like Sara, I haven’t ventured into getting one yet. I came up with the following pros and cons in trying to decide if I should get one or not.

The Pros

  • Portability – books are easily carried around in the form of a Kindle device.
  • Durability – books are immune to damage and weathering.
  • Searchable – some books can be indexed and can be quickly searched for reference.
  • Environment friendly – think of all the trees that can be saved if books are converted to a digital format.

The Cons

  • Power dependence – despite the Kindle’s long battery life, up to 2 months, it is still dependent on power.
  • Migration – the only means of converting a collection of books into digital format is to purchase and download the collection again.
  • Format – there are various formats for e-books, Kindle being just one of them. This lack of standardisation can cause a particular format to be discontinued due to lack of support.

The last drawback mentioned above, reminds me of the VHS – Betamax wars in the 80’s and more recently, the Blu-Ray vs HD-DVD format wars a few years ago. If a particular format becomes an industry standard, I will be more confident that my digital collection can still be read by devices in the next decade or so.

Also, devices, particularly tablets are now able to support multiple e-book formats. This approach will definitely encourage people to give e-books a try.

Posted October 12, 2011 by Alex in Technology

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