Friday, December 14, 2007

The Printed Page

Anyone who uses Amazon (and at this time of year, who doesn't check it at least once?) has probably seen the ads for its new book reader, the Kindle.

This thing is a hand-held book-sized device (the height of a pencil) which will hold something like 200 books, magazines and newspapers, includes wireless conductivity which allows you to download new books from Amazon (for $10) or the latest issue of a newspaper (11 papers are offered, for a subscription price of $2 each), no matter where you are, without needing a computer. You can even upload files from your own computer to the Kindle.

I was really intrigued by the device until I saw the price ($400) and realized how many books I could buy for $400. Still, I liked the idea of it.

Thank goodness for Robert Scoble, who made a video review of the Kindle, pointing out all of its weaknesses. He makes a lot of really good points including not being able to share books with friends, and the awkwardness of the design. The Kindle will have to be a lot cheaper than $400 for me to be interested, given his comments (which is OK because it's sold out already anyway).

If you travel a lot, I can see where the Kindle might be a real boon. I rarely travel without at least three books -- and I could now travel with 200 books in one compact little package and get a new book in a matter of minutes if I run out of reading material.

But I have this "thing" about a "book." I like the feel of a book. I like the feel of the paper under my hands. I like the feel of turning a page, of sticking a bookmark in the back to use to mark my place when I've finished reading for awhile.

I like the smell of a bookshop, especially a used bookshop. What would we wax romantic about if all we had were a stack of plastic machines that held an author's words.

We have found a way to speed up and mechanize so much in our lives. I hope that we never completely give up on a "book." I can't imagine climbing into a big soft chair and curling up with a Kindle.

Walt had his first physical therapy appointment yesterday and now has exercises to do and the depressing prognosis that it will take "months" before he completely recovers (which shouldn't have come as a surprise, since he had my mother's experience to compare to. He says that it didn't take that long when he broke his leg many years ago. I pointed out that he was much younger "many years ago.")

Following physical therapy, we drove out to Fry's. I need to make at least one trip to an electronics store during the holidays!

We managed to get out of there without mortgaging the house, but we did buy a few things -- some for me, some for others. Going mid-afternoon, mid-week was a good idea because it wasn't the zoo I feared it would be.

The amazing thing to me was looking at all the gadgetry that I read about from people in the vlogging, blogging, Twitter community and marveling at how much disposable income people must have...either that or how high their credit card bills must be. It would be very easy to run up a huge bill just trying out a lot of the fun products I've heard about. I just don't know where people find the money to upgrade and try out all the new things coming onto the market!

One reason why I wanted to go to Fry's was in the continuing search for tiny screws. I have this marvelous little pocket camera that I bought in Australia, and a couple of screws have come out of the body of it.

I've checked with a camera store and with Radio Shack and both places told me I should go to Fry's to get replacement screws. I've waited several weeks to be in the neighborhood in Sacramento but finally I was at Fry's and their "component" department looked at me as if I was crazy. They don't have screws that small.

Logic tells you that someone has to carry tiny screws because they were used in the first place. The folks at Fry's suggested going to a watchmaker, so that's my plan for the day, visiting a local jeweler and see if if they might have tiny screws. The camera works but I am hesitant to use it while the body is in danger of falling apart!

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