Rare Book Monthly

Articles - April - 2008 Issue

Kindle: Incredible Reading Tool, Evil Book-Killer, or Overpriced Technology?

Whisper

Amazon's Whispernet easily connects to the Kindle store.


by Renée Magriel Roberts

So, what currently has several issues of the New York Times Tuesday science edition, American Creation by Joseph J. Ellis, samples pages of Atonement by Ian McEwan and Michael Moore's Official Fahrenheit 9/11 Reader, Khaled Hosseini's A Thousand Splendid Suns and John McPhee's Founding Fish, as well as the Messages and Papers of George Washington, Barack Obama's Audacity of Hope, Michael Pollan's Omnivore's Dilemma, and the Tuesday, February 5 issue of The Wall Street Journal?

Well that's currently what's on my Kindle, of course, Amazon's pretty amazing 10.3 oz. electronic paper reader. Fitting handily in my purse, the Kindle can hold around 200 titles with unlimited storage on Amazon's servers for other books and periodicals that I purchase. After waiting over a month for mine, my Kindle finally arrived in its own leatherette case, complete with paper manual, and cables for uploading files to my computer, as well as recharging its battery.

With Amazon's utter dominance of the on-line book market, this introduction of its own branded reading device is causing a lot of concern. Consider, for example, that the Kindle is sold only by Amazon; the files that Kindle takes are not open-source and so the books and other ephemera sold for the device also have to be sold by Amazon. This pretty much cuts out booksellers and publishers who do not wish to publish to the device.

One typical complaint was recently lodged by Jason Epstein, co-founder of On Demand Books in the April 2008 issue of M.I.T.'s "Technology Review." His main complaint, and an entirely valid one, is the price. At a hefty $400, the first book purchased for the Kindle at $10 will effectively cost $410; the first 20 books a reader buys will cost $30 each; the first 40, $20 each and so on. But, of course, this does not factor in other features of the Kindle.

For example, you can download on demand, anytime and just about anywhere. Using a high-performance cellular network, the Kindle can find Amazon's servers even when my AT&T cell phone cannot. While we have to go outside to make a cell call, I can sit on my sofa and download a book or current newspaper to my Kindle. Downloading a 200-page book takes less than a minute.

From an ergonomic point of view, the Kindle is really quite pleasurable to use (my husband does complain that his thick fingers don't work so well on the little keyboard). The electronic paper is easy on the eyes and I really like the feature that allows you to create your own font size. Moreover, the Kindle does not require a computer and has its own Amazon (and its own limited Web-based connection), so the learning curve is not very steep.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> Frances Palmer, <i>Battle of Buena Vista,</i> chromolithograph, New York, 1847. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> Antonio Colmenero de Ledesma, the earliest publication concerned solely with chocolate, first edition, Madrid, 1631. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> Romans Bernard, <i>An Exact View of the Late Battle at Charlestown, June 17th, 1775,</i> engraving, 1776. $40,000 to $60,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> <i>A Short Narrative of the Horrid Massacre in Boston,</i> English edition, London, 1770. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> William Soule, <i>Lodge of the Plains Indians,</i> albumen print, 1872. $1,500 to $2,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> Manuscript document to enforce New York’s “Agreement of Non-Importation” during the heyday of the Sons of Liberty, New York, 1769. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> Clarence Mackenzie, <i>Drummer Boy of the 13th Regiment of Brooklyn,</i> salt print with applied color, 1861. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> Moses Lopez, <i>A Lunar Calendar,</i> first Jewish calendar published in America, Newport, RI, 1806. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b><br>The Book of Mormon, first edition, Palmyra, 1830. $30,000 to $40,000.
  • <center><b>Gonnelli Auction House<br>Books and Graphics<br>19th, 20th and 21st April 2021</b>
    <b><center>Gonnelli: Apr. 19-21<br>Books from XVI to XX Century</b>
    <b><center>Gonnelli: Apr. 20<br>Atlases and Maps</b
    <b><center>Gonnelli: Apr. 21<br> Veneto and Venice, a Selection of Books from the XVI to XX century</b>
    <b><center>Gonnelli: Apr. 20<br></b>Rossini Gioachino, Baguette de chef d'orchestre appartenuta a Gioachino Rossini, dono del Comune di Passy. 1500 €
    <b><center>Gonnelli: Apr. 21<br></b>Manetti Saverio, Storia naturale degli uccelli trattata con metodo. Cinque volumi. 1767. 18.000 €
    <b><center>Gonnelli: Apr. 21<br></b>Poe Edgar Allan, Double assassinat dans la rue morgue. Illustrations de Cura. 1946.
    <b><center>Gonnelli: Apr. 19-21<br>Books from XVI to XX Century</b>
  • <center><b>Sotheby’s<br>Collection of a Connoisseur:<br>History in Manuscript, Part 2<br>27 April 2021</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s, through Apr. 27:</b><br>Ronald Reagan. Series of 37 letters to Senator George Murphy, and related material, 1968-90. £50,000 to £70,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, through Apr. 27:</b><br>Chaim Weizmann. Autograph letter signed, to General Sir Gilbert Clayton, 6 September 1918. £20,000 to £30,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, through Apr. 27:</b><br>Sir Winston Churchill. Autograph letter signed, to Pamela, Lady Lytton, 1942. £20,000 to $30,000.
    <center><b>Sotheby’s<br>Collection of a Connoisseur:<br>History in Manuscript, Part 2<br>27 April 2021</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s, through Apr. 27:</b><br>Oscar Wilde. Five autograph letters signed, to Alsager Vian, 1887. £15,000 to £20,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, through Apr. 27:</b><br>Napoleon I. Letter signed to Admiral Ganteaume, ordering the invasion of England, 22 August 1805. £10,000 to £15,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, through Apr. 27:</b><br>Horatio, Viscount Nelson, and Emma Hamilton. Two autograph letter signed, to Catherine and George Matcham, 1805. £6,000 to £8,000.

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