Today I did something unusual… I bought a book! Well the book in itself is not unusual but what was different today was the fact that the book was old fashioned analogue – you know… re-used, old dead trees.
When it was launched I was anti-Kindle, in November 2007 I even wrote:
For me it doesn’t matter how fancy schmancy the details are – and Kindle has some impressive details. The dead tree with ink stains still remains my clear favorite.
But eventually I succumbed and bought one by the end of 2010. Almost immediately my reading and purchasing patterns changed drastically – this became very obvious when the book Själens medium: Skrift och subjekt i Nordeuropa omkring 1500 by Götselius was not available in digital format… and did not buy it!
Most of the time this is not a problem as most of my reading is in English. But this has an interesting side-effect: publishers in small language groups seem to think that staying out of the Kindle market is a smart way of maintaining control over their market. But the problem is that this market is diminishing. Given a choice – the Kindle user is almost forced into the a larger language group.
Sure, I was forced to buy a book today but that’s still 15 less than I would have during the same period.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it are words everyone should live by. But I would also like to add the condition if it works then don’t update it! There are many obvious reasons for updating technology and unfortunately many of them have absolutely nothing to do with the introduction of a better technology.
Over 40 years ago my father surprised my mother with a new sowing machine. My mother still uses the machine regularly. Naturally as a sowing machine manufacturer this is probably not a good deal. It would have been much better if my family had been forced to purchase a replacement twenty or thirty years ago. The Swedish consumer board stated ten years ago that the natural life expectancy of a mobile phone is two years. But phone manufacturers need to create desire for new versions to make sure that we are constantly giving them more money.
But what really bugs me is when manufacturers add technology to stuff that doesn’t need it. Touch screens on cookers and sensors in public bathrooms are among my main annoyances here.
Right now one of my most successful gadgets is my kindle. Now I would like them to update the ability to share books even beyond what Amazon has started to do. But my greatest fear is that some tecchie will feel the need to improve on the device to reach a greater market. The kindle is perfect because it mimics the book:
Why the paper book is a great technology:It doesn’t come with its own method of distracting you from itself via Benteka
Adding color screens, better keyboards and most dangerously touchscreens is going to happen – for all the wrong reasons. For a reader the lack of connectivity, the sucky keyboard & the fact that the reader is basically good at only one thing are all major strengths with the device.
So I eventually succumbed. My joy of tech over won my aversion to the e-book reader and I bought a Kindle. The years fighting it and making better and better arguments for not needing or wanting one suddenly slip away.
And I apologize. I still love and define myself large parts of myself by my physical library but I have become a follower. Instead of constantly needing to carry books inside my heavy laptop bag I have this little device. I can choose from a great library of works and I can read them in a dark corner in a crowded bus.
On the differences between the Kindle and the iPad the Kindle wins because it lacks features. This is counter intuitive and most probably will not last but it should be the Kindles strongest selling argument. Another e-book sceptic Hiltzik writes in the LA Times :
The Kindle, by contrast, has been optimized as a reading device. The letters seem to sit on top of its matte black-and-white E Ink display, reducing eyestrain, their outlines razor-sharp. One good thing about the Kindle is it’s distraction-free — there is a Web browser, but luckily it’s almost useless. The iPad invites you to set aside your reading to play, Web surf, check e-mail, futz around in a million digital ways; the Kindle is solely for reading.
Once again I can see that the traditional bookstore (which I love) has lost relevance to my lifestyle. My reading habits are also changing in relation to what I read, how I read and when I read.
So even though I love a good book – actually holding the physical copy will be a special event. I eventually got rid of my cd collection… how long will my library last?