The Roman philosopher Cicero said that a room without books is like a body without a soul, but try telling that to
CEO Jeff Bezos, who has high hopes for his firm's Kindle technology.
The latest Amazon e-book, the Kindle DX, is now available, and Bezos is looking to
the way people read. Capable of storing up to 3,500 books, the Kindle has even been touted as the savior of the ailing book publishing industry. Amazon is also fluttering its eyelashes in the direction of newspapers, and universities, pushing the Kindle DX out into leafy suburbs and college dorms.
This is all well and good, but I am not in the market for a
. Like many people, I stare, zombie-like into a screen all day, so I enjoy opening up a book (or newspaper) on the subway to and from work. Sure, books take up way too much space in my cramped apartment, but I kind of like the way that they look. Call me old-fashioned, but there is just something about the touch and feel of a book.
The other thing that puts me off the new Kindle is its
-- $489 seems like a lot of
, particularly in this economy. Amazon is also no
when it comes to design, and the Kindle DX screamed function rather than form when I got a chance to play with it.
It's also worth taking a reality check on the e-book market, which only accounts for a small, albeit growing, percentage of the overall book publishing industry. In March, for example, electronic books accounted for just 2.6% of overall book sales, according to figures from the Association of American Publishers.
With sales of $10 million, however, revenue from electronic books grew more than 130% in March compared to the same period last year. Contrast this with adult paperback sales, which fell 33% year over year, and adult hardcovers, which fell 19.3% over the same period.
Clearly, there are people out there willing to spend their money on electronic books. My other half, for example, has her heart set on some form of e-book, possibly a Kindle. A voracious reader, she is also considerably less tolerant of clutter than I am, so an e-book could kill two birds with one stone and make for a happier home.
As for Amazon, its share price has
this year, and the Kindle DX is seen as way to open up new revenue streams and counter
from Internet retail rivals
E-books are slowly gaining momentum and companies such as Sony and startup
Plastic Logic are also pushing the technology. Just as intense competition has forced down
in the smartphone market, hopefully the same will happen with electronic books.
Maybe when prices start to fall and e-books become as ubiquitous as iPods, I will consider grabbing a Kindle, but, until then, I will be happily leafing through the pages of paperbacks and hardcovers.