[For more on these Kindle investigations, see ten arguments against the Kindle, the initial query concerning blog content being redistributed without permission or compensation, the first wave of Kindle blogger responses, and the the second wave of Kindle blogger responses.]
Ten arguments against the Kindle (one against the promotional video):
1. A book does not require a battery. Let’s say you’re on the second to the last page and the battery goes out. Then you have to hunt around for the damn charger. But where did you put the charger? In the same time, you could have finished a compelling book.
2. If you lose the book, you can borrow it from a library or buy another copy or read it at a bookstore before they kick you out because you wore the wrong T-shirt or you slept with the wrong bookstore employee (but that’s a side issue). If you lose your Kindle, you have to pay $400. Oh sure, it’s always “backed up online.” But you’ll have to pay $400 to use it again. (I’m assuming likewise that the specific text use here is proprietary, meaning that you can’t view a Kindle text in another format on your computer. Hackers will almost certainly crack this and who knows? Maybe we’ll see a piracy problem for publishers.)
3. Thirty hours seems like a lot of battery life. (“You can read for days without having to plug in,” my ass. Thirty hours is thirty hours.) But let’s say you want to read Against the Day or The Recognitions in one long sitting. And what if you fall asleep reading? Will the Kindle stay on?
4. Can you really read with the Kindle in the bathtub? If you drop the Kindle into the tub, will it survive? Or will the LCD screen be toast? How durable is this little bastard anyway?
5. This whole business of flipping the page is rather arrogant of Amazon, isn’t it? In one fell swoop, Amazon wants to usurp the reading experience by having the page buttons on each side of the display. But what if you want to flip back? Well, that glorious sense of the index finger and thumb clutching the right corner of the page is now gone. You don’t feel that palpable sense of being one with a book. It’s more like a game of Bioshock.
6. What about those of us who enjoy looking up arcane words in the dictionary? Is the Kindle Dictionary an unabridged? Or is it one of those yuk-yuk high school dictionaries? OED plug-in? Can you highlight a specific phrase or just a line? (The video skips through the “highlighting” part quite rapidly, suggesting that we shouldn’t pay attention. But, dammit, it’s important.) How will this compare with highlighting or flagging a specific passage with a Post-It? All we get here is an option to dog-ear a corner. This is eminently unsuitable for reference. (I will say, however, that finding all citations of a word in a book is very helpful, although will this discourage people from memorizing poetry or specific passages?)
7. The font size option seems nice, but what of specific typesetting choices? How, for example, can a book like Only Revolutions or The Raw Shark Texts or even Alfred Bester’s enneagrams be enjoyed this way? And what of the juxtaposition of illustrations with text? There is sometimes a specific reason for why a photo or an illustration appears in relation to a particular page.
8. “The same wireless technology as advanced cell phones?” Great. Guess I’ll have to turn the Kindle off then during a transatlantic flight and waste twelve hours watching that shitty in-flight movie. Thanks, Amazon!
9. The ability to hold a mere 200 books for $400 (plus extra for books)? I can buy a 4 Gig Compact Flash card for $80.
10. This guy in the blue shirt looks like he sells insurance or some kind of corporate mercenary. I wouldn’t trust him to buy me a beer if I gave him the money. He’d pocket the Lincoln and then ask me for the five bucks I “didn’t give him.”