Sunday, July 19, 2009

I want to say a word about Kindle, Amazon’s electronic book viewer.

I know that Americans are usually obsessed with owning the newest and hippest thing available. It doesn’t matter that the older thing is still quite functional. It becomes obsolete because it is deemed to be obsolete by the industry and the consumers.

On some occasions, this is warranted. No one really wants 8 track or even cassette tapes anymore. I keep hearing that the death of musical CD’s is imminent, although I have a feeling those are going to hang on for quite a while. I am still quite annoyed that my perfectly good printer/scanner/copier is obsolete and not supported and I can’t use the scanner feature anymore because HP decided they weren’t going to make a new application software for Windows XP and beyond. So, just because we upgraded our computer, we are now without a scanner. I find that infuriating.

All right, that was a bit of an unnecessary diversion. I wanted to talk about why Kindle is even a product available for sale. The base models cost about $300. Even with that outlay, you still have to buy the e-books, unless you are into the free classics. The hardware will, no doubt, need to have upgrades every once in a while. It will probably also do all sorts of cool stuff like be able to surf the internet and such, which a person’s cell phone or blackberry already does if that person is inclined to have the coolest thing.

My point being, this is rather a pricey proposition. Plus, we now need the manufacturing and support capabilities necessary to build and maintain these things. More toxic waste will be generated by the manufacture and disposal of these things. So, what the heck is wrong with just buying the damn book? Yeah, O.K., new hardcover books are expensive and they are printed on paper, which requires dead trees. But still, is just the fact that you have a Kindle, that you are among those who have the newest and hippest thing available, really that much of a rush that we have to have an entirely new and expensive electronics gadget to replace something, in this case, printed books, really necessary?

I admit, I am a book person. I have a nice little library where my shelves are full of books (and DVD’s), many of which are rather old. I didn’t buy them new. I would love to know the history behind some of the books I have. I have a number that were printed in the late 1890’s. I find that fascinating all by itself, much less the subject of the book itself. I just think we are losing something with this move. I frankly, just don't see the point.

Sure, printed books will always be with us. Hopefully, in the future, they won’t be looked upon as anachronistic antiques.

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