Monday, September 06, 2010

the Kindle phenomenon - unpromoted benefits

I've had an Amazon Kindle for almost two years now.  I use it daily to read the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and novels.  Reading novels on the Kindle is just like reading a paper back novel -- I never notice the difference.  Reading newspapers on the Kindle required a lot of behavior changes;  newspapers are organized very differently on the Kindle, but eventually I got used to it.

Now two amazing things about the Kindle that no one ever mentions:

1-books out of copyright
2-archival storage - the bane of information technology

First, if you have an interest in reading a published work that is out of copyright, you can get it on the Kindle for free, for $0.99, or it if is something really large, just a little more money.  I got the Complete Works of William Shakespeare for $2.29.   I got  Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott for free. 

All the press about eBooks revolves around the price model for new books, best sellers, deals with publishers, etc.  However, that misses the point.  Even at a used book store you cannot beat free or $2.29 for a really large or multi volume book.  This is the real deal with the Kindle; not everyone reads best sellers.

Second, archival storage.  I've got another blog coming up on archival storage and how no one has successfully found a solution.  So what is the problem?  In human history, the records that stood the test of time are the ones written on paper.  That is too bad.  Paper records require maintenance, organization, categorization, and so on.    In fact, a very large and significant portion of daily life at work and at home by individuals and by corporations requires dull and annoying tasks dealing with  the organizing, maintenance and storage of papers, documents, bills, records, and so on.

As I write this, I can see four piles of books, each about two feet high, stacked on the floor.  How many times have I packed up and moved this set of books?  What should I do with them?   Should I buy a new book case?  Why do I have them?  Will I will need to refer to them again?  Should I take them to the used book store?  With the Kindle, I never have to think about any of this.  Maybe Kindle should have a slogan like "Read Once. Maintain Never."   Or, "No Maintenance Personal Library."  The point is that the Kindle eliminates part of the problem of maintaining and organizing material stuff.   That is not in the same category as achieving world piece, or eliminating hunger.  But it does free up more time to work on the important problems.

Summary:  Older books you were planning to read someday are available instantly, mostly for free, on the Kindle.  Get as many as you want, because you don't have to physically store them any place.