The Amazon Kindle

Before flying to visit family for the holidays my wife and I got an Amazon Kindle e-book reader and we’ve since thought about getting another one. We own the Wi-Fi-only edition but the 3G edition’s expanded capability is tempting, especially when the other one of us is using ours. It is not exaggerating to say that the Kindle has changed our lives, or at least our reading lives.

For starters, it has motivated us to limit ourselves to e-book purchases only. Since getting the Kindle, we’ve downloaded about a dozen sample chapters from books we considered buying and have bought four of them, largely based on our ability to sample them first. And the cost savings has been amazing. For softcover books whose retail prices each average about $15, we only spent about half that.

Another big benefit of the Kindle has been the ability to order books whenever the mood strikes us [within distance of a hotspot], including at Starbucks, our office, the bedroom, and yes, even the bathroom! It is awesome to be able to download a full-length book in less than a minute and start reading it immediately, no matter where you are.

And with our move to digital reading, we are maintaining the mobile lifestyle by donating hundreds of little-used books left over from my days as a book review editor. With fewer books comes less need for bookshelves, so we sold most of them, downsizing from a total of 30 to 13. Even before getting the Kindle we cut back on traditional book buying, but if you’ll pardon the pun, it is “fuel for the fire.”

The Case for Editors

With an intriguing twist of irony, I ordered a book the other day from Amazon titled The Case for Books: Past, Present, and Future by Robert Darnton, who happens to be the director of the Harvard University Library. So what is so ironic about that? Other than the fact that the book is a hardcover that I got for a third off the cover price from the place that has popularized electronic book reading, there was a glaring TYPO on the back cover proving my point that besides the case for books, there also is a case for editors.

The Changing Bookscape

I blogged about what I call the changing bookscape about a year ago in a couple of postings titled “Print is Dead” and “More Print is Dead,” based on observations from a book with the title of Print is Dead by author Jeff Gomez. I won’t repeat the conversation here but its thoughts are echoed in a compelling article in the Wall Street Journal by writer Steven Johnson titled “How the E-book Will Change the Way We Read and Write.” It is must reading for publishing professionals and can be read in its entirety by visiting