Rare Book Monthly

Articles - April - 2008 Issue

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

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

  • Sotheby’s, July 11: Galileo, Document annotated and signed by Galileo, dated Padua, 1595. £500,000 to £700,000.
  • Forum Auctions
    Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper
    18th July 2024
    Forum, July 18: Rowling (J.K.) Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, first hardback edition, 1997. £40,000 to £60,000.
    Forum, July 18: Binding.- Lucian of Samosata Opuscula Erasmo Roterodamo interprete, first Aldine edition, Venice, Heirs of Aldus Manutius and A, 1516. £15,000 to £20,000.
    Forum, July 18: Bacon (Sir Francis). De Dignitate et Augmentis Scientiarum Libri IX, Pierre Gassendi's copy gifted him by Nicolas-Claude Fabri de Peiresc, Paris, Typis Petri Mettayer, 1624. £15,000 to £20,000.
    Forum Auctions
    Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper
    18th July 2024
    Forum, July 18: Shakespeare (William). The First Part of Henry the Fourth, with the Life and Death of Henry, Sirnamed Hot-Spurre…, Printed by Isaac Jaggard, and Ed. Blount, 1623. £15,000 to £20,000.
    Forum, July 18: Darwin (Charles). On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, third edition, presentation inscription 'From the Author' in a secretary's hand, John Murray, 1861. £15,000 to £20,000.
    Forum, July 18: Teague (Violet). Geraldine Rede. Night Fall in the Ti-Tree, first edition, Melbourne, Sign of the Rabbit, 1905; and another. £10,000 to £15,000.
    Forum Auctions
    Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper
    18th July 2024
    Forum, July 18: India.- Primrose (Gen. James Maurice). Collection of 24 original drawings from his time in India with the 43rd Regiment of Foot, circa 1855 to 1864. £10,000 to £15,000.
    Forum, July 18: Manet (Édouard). Trente Eaux-fortes originales, the complete portfolio, Paris, A. Stroelin, 1905. £8,000 to £12,000.
    Forum, July 18: Bible, English. [The Holy Bible], first edition of the King James Bible, the Great 'He' Bible, [Robert Barker], [1611]. £6,000 to £8,000.
    Forum Auctions
    Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper
    18th July 2024
    Forum, July 18: America.- Mathews (Alfred E.) Pencil Sketches of Montana, first edition, New York, Published by the Author, 1868. £6,000 to £8,000.
    Forum, July 18: Bawden (Edward). Original dust-jacket artwork for 'The Outsider' by Albert Camus, [c.1946]. £4,000 to £6,000.
    Forum, July 18: World.- Fries (Laurent). Tabula Nova Totius Orbis, woodcut map, [c.1541]. £3,000 to £5,000.

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