Sunday, June 29, 2008

Print is dead!



Dr. Egon Spengler... a modern prophet.  (For the, hopefully, few of you who do not know the works of Dr. Spengler - go here)

Print is officially dead, long live the electron!  I just celebrated my 24th anniversary, and my wife got me a Kindle for a gift.  Wow!!!  I have had many a cool gadget in my day, it’s kind of my schtick, but this is the coolest of them all (until the iPhone 2.0).  But beyond being cool, I think this is the beginning of something big.

Now, I have had many e-book readers in the past, and all of them have sucked ass in one way or another.  The Kindle??  definitely does not suck ass!  While this bit of prose will be a semi-review of the Kindle, keep in mind that I am also talking about the future here, and it may not be the Kindle itself that drives the nail in the coffin of the printing presses.  But the coffin is closing, and things like the Kindle are doing it.

I toyed around with the Sony E-book reader a while, at the Borders store in town and I found it to be cumbersome, fuzzy and generally a joke.  Coupled with the paltry selection of books they have and it’s a dead product.  (And that is not just my pure hatred of Sony coming through, they can’t give them things away.)  I also used every version of my PDA with MS-Reader installed.  Too small for most books.

Well, in walks the Kindle, with it’s gorgeous screen, luscious lines and smoooooth buttons. (Ok the buttons aren’t smooth, but that line was getting kind sexy, no?)  It looks at you, with those little “read me” eyes and says - “I’ll even play your MP3s while you read, baby”.  Face it, you’re doing the reading rumba with this thing before you know it.  Best part is... in the morning, it’s still there, ready for the newspaper and a good comedy.

Truly, the screen on this thing is better than white paper.  It has just the right contrast for me, and the print font is perfect.  Of course, the font is scalable, so you can have teensy print or really big print, your choice.  It does everything a book will do an alot more.  You can dog-ear pages, annotate passages and even look up the really big words in the built in dictionary.

Truly, this thing is a wonder.  But beyond that, I think it is ushering in a new era.  Imagine if you will, an 8th grader on the first day of school.  Rather than getting a ton of books to lug around all year, he gets his Kindle (or similar) device with all the years books already loaded on it.  And not the old books that alot of our school systems are struggling along with, revised updated editions.  All the handouts that teachers would give out are now just uploaded to the classes Kindle’s and assignments are handed in the same way.  Even better, spin this up to the same kid in college.  Same device, just has to get the book(s) for each class uploaded at the beginning of the semester.  The cost savings to the school system are immense, as it is to the publishers and teachers.

Obviously, this is a few years down the road, but even now, I get the New York Times delivered to my Kindle every night, ready to read in the morning.  Time Magazine, same deal.  More are coming all the time.  Granted, Amazon is making money with the Kindle now, selling books and their selection is a tad bit limited.  But I have gone to a bunch of sites that offer many books free, all the great classics are totally free.

While I will not say that the Kindle or it’s progeny will kill print media, a device like it will.  A full blown laptop PC (Macbook Air?) with this screen, in this format is coming soon, and you will see it take the world like the iPod did.  Mark my words.

As to reviewing the Kindle itself, I have a hard time doing it fairly.  The thing is just about perfect.  I’m not sure if I am just so enamored with it, or if it is really this good.  I have thirty books on it right now, and I am finding myself staying up WAY too late reading.  What a joy that is!  The controls are intuitive and VERY easy to use, the management of the device is made incredibly easy by Amazon.  Maybe in a future blog I’ll have some things to say against it, but for now, I can’t give it up.

If you decide to get one, please use my store link to get it so I can buy some good books :)