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Doug's Mailbag: End of the Book?

Are books going the way of the dodo, thanks to tablets (like the newly announced Amazon Kindle Fire)? Here are some of your thoughts:

I love reading. I hate books, particularly paperback novels. Not like a Fahrenheit 451 hater of books, but I consider them to be a pain to use. I used to love to read for hours at a time. But then I stopped. You know why? Because books suck! They actually get in the way of the reading experience. I hate holding them open and approaching middle age with repetitive stress problems in my hands that sucks more than some might think. I hate losing my place. I hate the dryness of the pages on my skin. I especially HATE those older books that aren't cut straight on the side (whatever the opposite of the spine is called). As much as I loved reading as a kid, I had mostly given up on it, because it was kind of a hassle to me. I started several novels and never seemed to finish because to read a book you have to sit a certain way or lay a certain way and your neck gets stiff.

Then my wife bought me a kindle. I probably wouldn't have bought one myself. I love it. I have read more novels in the nine months since Christmas than I have for the last 10 years. Elmore Leonard, the Sookie Stackhouse novels, heck even the entire Percy Jackson collection. I'll read two at a time, and switch to the one that appeals to me at the moment. It's like I can't get enough of it or I'm making up for lost time. I lay down and plop my kindle down where I can see it and touch it only to turn a page. Print too small? Blow it up (this is becoming increasingly important to me). Can't look at your kindle? It will read to you (that feature could use some work, though. Its a little too robot-y for a dramatic novel, but that actually worked for Super Freakanomics ).

This is probably TMI, but I have a towel rack in front of my toilet that I have rigged a stand to for "hands-free operation" of my Kindle. If I don't know a word, I don't have to look it up in some OTHER book, I just navigate down to it and the definition appears at the bottom. My wife sprang for the 3G model so I can look something up on Wikipedia in a pinch if I'm not at home or around Wi-Fi. (In a pinch, because that 'experimental Web browser' should be codenamed 'SuckAss'). When I read the Elmore Leonard novel with the short story "Fire in the Hole" that they based the TV series Justified on, I decided I wanted to read the other two Raylon Givens novels. I was reading the next one within five minutes! I can play scrabble on it. I can highlight notes in the financial books I read.

Of course, the consequences are more dire if it gets dropped in the bathtub, but I'm extra careful there.

I broke it a few weeks after I got it (my fault) and I was like a jonesing drug addict waiting for Amazon to send me another one.

I still love bookstores. I still like to have hardbacks for Non-fiction science stuff. I'm kind of in the air about technical books, like about programming. But as far as a paperback novel goes, you will be lucky to see me pick one up again.

Barney, you are living in the past. Read the 10  things that will not exist in the future. Hard-bound books are one of them, except in libraries. I love paper books but the future is less stuff owned and more stuff rented/leased/borrowed. It has a lot of potential advantages including the possibility of a greener world.

I find your comparison humorous. Aside from books, music, movies, and apps, the iPad is an expensive way to surf the internet (sans Flash). Both devices exist to help you consume more and more media. One is geared more towards reading while the other tries to be everything for everyone (for a price). That's all.

Share your thoughts with the editors of this newsletter! Write to [email protected]. Letters printed in this newsletter may be edited for length and clarity, and will be credited by first name only (we do NOT print last names or e-mail addresses).

Posted by Doug Barney on 10/03/2011 at 1:18 PM


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