just launched a new electronic reader called Kindle. This new device is said to hold as many as 200 books and weights only 10.3 onces. Its screen seems to have addressed the common complaint with other e-readers, that of having a back lit screen; Kindle requires outside light to be used. In terms of reading with Kindle, allows the users to access a dictionary while reading and can scan other books for related information. Virtual pages can be marked for later reviewing, and Kindle will automatically save your place in the book.

Kindle is entirely wireless so users do not need the use of a PC to order and download books. Wireless access costs will be included in the tag price, but there are additional fees to access online newspapers and blog, as well as extra charges to access personal documents on the device.

On the positive side an instrument such as Kindle can allow us to carry a large amount of reading material with us at any time, and it gives us the possibility of renewing this collection from anywhere in the USA (The technology –EVDO– used for wireless connectivity is much more common in the USA than in other countries). In libraries we could pre-load these devices to check out several books to patrons at the same time. From an environmental perspective we can help save a few trees by accessing reading material in electronic form.

Still electronic books disconnect us in a way from the culture of books and reading. Many of us choose books by their covers, and are enamored with worn down books which have obviously been read my many people, two aspects that an electronic book reader doesn’t incorporate. Literature purist fear that a device such as Kindle will eventually incorporate a number of Web 2.0 features that will encourage users to “scan” information instead of truly being engaged with the book.

I think books are integral parts of so many people’s lives. I love carrying a book around in my purse, and how I eventually wear them down, and I’m sure that in some way books will always be around (I can’t imagine reproducing the experience of looking through a good coffee table book on an electronic device), but things are changing, and in a way I support whatever facilitates reading. Still at around $400.00 a piece I figure we are still a long way away from seeing everyone on the subway holding Kindles instead of books.

You can read more about Kindle from an article in the BBC. WBUR’s On Point had a show on Kindle this morning, you can access the podcast here.

Video by mhyatt18.

11.28.07 – Last Thursday the BBC printed an article commenting on how high sales have been for Kindle. The devise sold out on the website soon after being released. The article continues to note that customers who have received their Kindle already, many give it a rating of only 2.5 out of 5. In general people are upset at having to pay for content that is freely available on the web.

02.03.08 – I was just reading a blog entry on Tinfoil Raccoon explaining that technically speaking libraries will be in violation of Kindle’s Terms of Use policy if they lend out the machine to patrons. You can read the full explanation here. The blog has a number of other entries on Kindle.