I hope you don’t get too annoyed with me for doing another post about the Kindle. There were several great comments and questions after last week’s post, and I wanted to take the discussion a little further.
Here are my answers to a few of the issues raised:
→ What if I lose or destroy my Kindle? Insurance doesn’t cover the cost of all those book downloads.
Amazon saves all your downloads, so if you delete them from your Kindle, or even lose or destroy your Kindle, you can re-download the books without paying again.
→ Reading on a computer hurts my eyes.
The Kindle uses a new and completely different technology from a computer. It’s a high resolution, similar to reading paper-and-ink, and doesn’t hurt your eyes. For me, it’s even better than reading a book because I can adjust the text size, which is especially helpful in low light. In effect, every book can turn into a large-print book when I want it to.
→ For me, a book isn’t just about the words, it’s the entire reading experience. Does reading electronically take away from this experience? Is it harder to “lose yourself” in certain books when you’re looking at them onscreen?
For me, no. In fact, most of the time I’m not aware of reading “on a screen” because the Kindle technology looks very much like ink on paper. If I think back over the last seven months that I’ve had my Kindle, I can’t very well remember which books/manuscripts I read on it versus in a different format.
This brings up an interesting point about eReaders in general, and how you’ll perceive them differently depending on whether you’re in the business of reading or not. People who work in publishing may love books (the paper, cover, the binding, the look and feel, etc.), but we’re not exceptionally attached to a need to read them in that specific format (ink on pages bound in a cover) because we already read books in so many forms. Most of us read manuscripts for a living, which don’t have the benefit of a lovely cover and design, so we’re keenly aware of the importance of the words. We read manuscripts printed on 8 ½ x 11 paper, and we read manuscripts on our computer screens all the time. So for us, the idea of reading a book in a different format besides a bound book is really no big deal. Maybe that accounts for some of the difference in opinions.
→ Piracy is my biggest concern. With eBooks, what’s to prevent the same file sharing/pirating that damaged the music industry?
As Dal put it (in the comments), “digital rights management is a big hairy wormy subject at the moment.” Yep. But here are my thoughts.
1) Most people aren’t hackers, they’re just readers. I’m not a hacker, so I haven’t figured out a way to get a book off of my Kindle and be able to indiscriminately share it with others (and I never will). Yes, some people may do that. However…
2) Authors are already having their books “shared” and not getting any royalties. How many books have you borrowed from friends? How many books have you given away? How many books have you purchased used from Amazon or Half.com or the used bookstore or Goodwill? For all the art forms… music, fine art, books… there is always going to be a certain amount of sharing. There will always be people who enjoy it without paying for it.
3) The issue of protecting against piracy is a big one, and of course, those who create technology are doing their best to come up with ways to prevent it. There’s not going to be a complete cure. But I can’t imagine not going digital simply because of this fear. My iPod and iTunes have changed my life for the better. The music industry has made it less likely that people will pirate by making it easier and easier to get music the legal way. But there’s simply no getting around the fact that some people feel okay stealing.
Yes, piracy is an issue, one that isn’t being ignored by the book industry. We have the advantage that the music industry dealt with this first, so at least we won’t be caught unprepared.
→ I don’t like to have to be connected to a power source just to read a book.
The Kindle is rechargeable, and with each charge, gets at least 10 hours of reading time (as far as I can tell). I suppose if you were camping in the wilderness that might be a problem. I haven’t found it to be an issue as long as I bring my charger with me when I travel.
→ It’s just too expensive.
I agree, it’s too expensive for the casual user. The price will probably come down. Since I use it for my work, it’s not only worth the price, it’s a business write-off.
→ Too many design flaws.
True, and I know the Kindle 2.0 (due out soon) won’t have every one of them fixed. For me, the flaws are annoying but not enough for me to regret buying it.
→ What books wouldn’t you want to read on a Kindle?
Nonfiction books that I might want to highlight, write in, and come back to frequently. Although Kindle allows for highlighting and making notes, I find the feature too cumbersome to use.
Okay, I promise that’s ALL I’m going to write about Kindle for a good long while!
Any more questions, check out Amazon’s Kindle page.
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Rachelle Gardner is a Christian literary agent who loves reading books on her Kindle.