Yes, books are great but we said that about CDs
Don’t you just hate it when you’ve bought a new toy and before you’ve even got it out of the box you’re friends are saying you’ve wasted your money?
I know someone who has the new Kindle, which was released in Australia last week.
If he is the same sort of technoholic as I am, he would have been crestfallen when before he’d even unpacked it one of our acquaintances said: “Have you seen the Nook? Bet you’ll regret the Kindle.”
If you don’t know what a Kindle is, it is a gadget which holds books, newspapers and magazines. In Australia, it operates in the 3G network, so a user can download the latest book by Tim Winton right after they’ve finished reading Nick Earls on the train.
Their account is kept by Amazon and their virtual library is on record. So if their Kindle is ever stolen, their library is still there.
Developed by Amazon, it’s been available in America for a while now. Oprah did a program on it and you know what happens when Oprah does a program on things. Everyone in the audience gets one for free.
To understand this comment, an equivalent to a car person might be: Hey, is that your new red car out there? Ha! That’ll fade in six months!
I’m a relatively late starter with iPods. I started with the Shuffle and later that year I bought the iPod Classic two days after it was released. I hadn’t even taken it out of the box when someone said a friend of a friend told him the face tends to scratch and the battery is rubbish. I was left wondering if this was the worst decision I’d made since choosing red.
Today my entire music collection and iFrench and iGerman, a few photos and the Winnie the Pooh collection are stored on my iPod. The sound quality is amazing and I can listen to it anywhere, but only for about an hour or so because the battery is a dud.
Since they produced that model, Apple has sorted out the battery. The latest generation Nanos have as much memory as my Classic, a better screen, they’re smaller and the battery lasts longer.
Like the early days of iPods and iTunes, when you talk about the Kindle, everyone gets all nostalgic about what it’s replacing. Even though I love them, I just gave away two boxes of books to Lifeline. As my daughter accumulates more toys and books than is seemly for a one-year-old with no income, my love of buying, reading and keeping books is being replaced by a need for storage.
I also have less time to browse bookshops and libraries. A Kindle, Nook or other tablet, will take me out of the bookshop and let me download anything, anytime. Even if it is 3am and I can’t sleep, I’ll be able to download something to read, instead of flicking through yesterday’s paper or watching infomercials. The Kindle is to books what iTunes is to music.
ITunes freed me from CD shops, their loud music and catalogues that scream like rug ads. Importantly, I now avoid judgmental retail staff: “You want the Best of Cliff Richard? Why?!”
ITunes resolved the CD storage problem. Ten years ago I watched as my niece, then aged one, decimated my brother’s CD collection. After she went for her nap, I sat looking at the remains of the day: silver discs covered in sticky fingermarks, scratches and cat fur; broken cases; and chewed, ripped booklets.
My one-year-old may never see a compact disc, unless it’s one of my brother’s he now uses for a coaster.
There will always be people who buck the trend though. There are people out there who love vinyl records because of the crackling and static.
I have more empathy for book nostalgics. I know books are wonderful in their smell, feel and content. They give you a great pride when a new person sees your bulging bookshelf for the first time. I have my grandfather’s collection of poetry, complete with doodles of animals and birds.
You can’t get that on a Kindle. But you also don’t have to worry about the humidity ruining the leather on your 100-year-old Tennyson.
The future is book tablets. It has to be. Drive past any high school at around 3pm and look at the pack horses that are students, bent to 90 degrees carrying their Maths and Science books, their gym gear and, if they can fit it in, their lunch boxees.
Or consider the environment. Newspapers and magazines are up there with coal mining as ‘brown industries’. It uses a noxious chemical called ‘ink’, it uses thousands and thousands of trees in paper, God-knows how much energy in delivering it, even more energy collecting the waste and recycling it.
I’m pretty sure the owners of the Model T Ford weren’t entirely happy with the gears or crankshaft and maybe some of them were peeved when new buyers actually did get a choice of colour. But thanks to their investment, and belief in the car, today most of us own a vehicle with better gears, no crankshaft and, foolishly, in a faded red.
So if it takes a few patsys to buy a Kindle this year, or a Nook next year, or whatever the next tablet is called, so be it. I will be that patsy.
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