Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Lower E-Reader Prices Make Them More Tempting

I've said this before: I'm a book guy. Good old fashioned paper books, complete with the smell, the weight, the feel. Yet, as the prices for e-readers like the Nook and the Kindle come down to earth, I find them tempting. It's not that I want to toss away my library and clear my bookshelves for knick-knacks, but I like the idea of a library in a slim piece of electronic gadgetry.

I don't think of books as consumables. I don't read books and then dismiss them. I like knowing they still exist on my shelf (in a tangible, physical form) for me to reference. I know that if I want to go back to a particular story in Denis Johnson's Jesus' Son, the book is there. E-readers are good for folks who might read a book once and be done with it, but I'm beginning to think that they might be good for reference too. Might not be bad, when I'm sitting down to write several pages tonight, to pull out a Kindle and reread "Car Crash While Hitchhiking." And I think they might be very good for non-fiction, for the important books that come out in hardback and make a stir but you don't necessarily need them on your bookshelf for all of eternity (I still need to get around to Nassim Taleb's Black Swan).

And what about magazines? I am definitely a magazine reader, thought I rarely seem to get through them. Wouldn't an e-reader be the best place for The New Yorker or Business Week?

So, I'm tempted.

I did put my hands on a Nook a couple of weeks ago, and I wasn't impressed. It felt clunky and the model on display at the store was stuck loading a page. The sales person had to power it off and back on to get it working again.

But then I wonder if I would be doing damage to two industries I'm fond of, publishing and bookselling. I'd rather not aid in the demise of either.

I'm not convinced that I'm buying one of these things yet, but with more reasonable pricing it is worth considering.

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