Call me crazy, but I just can't picture myself cuddling up in bed or laying on a beach with a good Kindle in my hands.
Just in case you've missed Jeff Bezos's promotional appearances this week on The Today Show and The Daily Show among others -- which in the olden days (last week?) might have even been called a "book" tour -- Amazon has introduced its second generation electronic Kindle, also known among TV hosts apparently as the iPod for books. (Why not iBook? Let's not go there).
The dictionary definition of the word "kindle" is either 1) to set fire to, or 2) to arouse or be aroused. I'm still not sure whether Amazon intended to set fire to books and replace them with Kindle, or if it meant to arouse new interest in reading books with its handy-dandy techy tool.
Regardless, what the release of Kindle 2 has done is again ignite the debate over whether the device will be the death of books. In a good pros-and-cons explanation of what the Kindle does, and whether or not it poses a threat to that old copy of Gone With the Wind you've saved for your daughter, The NYTimes's David Pogue predicts books are here to stay because "nothing ever replaces anything." Tell that to Columbia, Atlantic, Chess, Blue Note, and all those other old record makers (you know, LPs?!).
But despite America's willingness these days to embrace all things high-speed and download-able, Bezos is still struggling with his pitch, hampered by a crazy-bizarre laugh and bald head that reminds the tech bloggers at the Chicago Tribune of Lex Luther.
But Bezos is undeterred by the mainstream media critics, because the tech media seems to generally love Kindle. "Kindle 2 Brings Books Closer to e-Nirvana" crows Wired. Despite that kind of praise though, the death of the book may be greatly exaggerated. "Are the improvements big enough for the Kindle 2 to spark an iPod effect, causing bookstores to shutter, forests to grow unchecked and the tomes on our shelves to disappear, replaced by plants and bobble-head dolls? Not any time soon," Wired says.
On the surface, the Kindle does seem kinda cool. Page turning buttons, easy to read paperback book size display which you can even change the font on, a powerful built-in battery that Amazon says will last up to 5 days, and a bunch of other sexy features. But it doesn't come free. Kindle will set you back $360. And each downloaded book - off Amazon of course - will cost you $9.99. But lose the Kindle, and you lose your library -- reason enough many readers preferred to consume their books the old-fashioned way.
Whew! You can almost hear the sighs of relief from everyone I'm surrounded by right now -- at the library, which happens to feature nearly as many titles as the Kindle can hold (1,500), BUT FOR FREE. And you can take them to the beach, get sand in them, dog-ear the pages, and when you're done return them so someone else can do the same thing.
Kindle that, Bezos.