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Kindle 2: Death Knell For Books?

kindle 2
This morning Amazon officially announced its second-generation e-book reader, the Kindle 2 (although leaked photographs of the device have been floating around the internet for some time now). All-in-all, the new Kindle is a modest step up from the first generation, introducing nothing too radical to the design or functionality but improving the device in a variety of incremental ways.
So, what does the new Kindle mean for those of us who still like to curl up with a good book? Be it an action packed mystery or a spine chilling horror story or even a good old fashioned romance novel, nothing quite compares to the feel of turning the pages of a well written book. I'll admit, when I first stumbled across the Kindle some time ago, my reactions ranged from 'This monstrosity replacing my precious paperbacks?' to 'Just one more gadget to lug around which I'll never use'.

However, I've recently started to change my mind (I'll admit that I have never used one of these devices myself). First of all, e-books mean that I always have reading material at hand. I can carry a hundred books instead of just one. It is possible to get the latest bestsellers at much lower prices thanks to the Amazon Kindle store. If you read public domain works, the choice is increased manifold (and much cheaper too!). With the introduction of E-Ink technology and better screens, it is also a lot easier on the eyes compared to smart phone or laptop screens. As much as I like the feel of a book in my hands, I cannot ignore the number of trees that are cut down each year to create books and which can be saved if I read electronically.

As usual, there are caveats. Many of the above pros are moot for anyone living outside the US and EU. Books have to be purchased online and downloaded to the device. While Wi-Fi is ubiquitous in many cities States side, it is not so for most people. It might be the next best thing since sliced bread, but I'd like to see someone actually carry and use it on our DTC buses!

Quite ambitiously, the Kindle hopes to do to books what the iPod did to music. For now, the printed word still reigns supreme...but only for now.

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