David Pogue has a thorough review of Amazon.com’s Kindle at the NYTimes.com. There’s been alot written about the Kindle, but I like Pogue’s review for how he points out all little details you may want to know before you buy it. He’s a good tech writer.
But what I want to highlight is something he addresses towards the end of the review, where he asks and answers the question:
“So, for the thousandth time: is this the end of the printed book?
Don’t be silly.
The Kindle has the usual list of e-book perks: dictionary, text search, bookmarks, clippings, MP3 music playback and six type sizes (baby boomers, arise). No trees die to furnish paper for Kindle books, either.
But as traditionalists always point out, an e-book reader is a delicate piece of electronics. It can be lost, dropped or fried in the tub. You’d have to buy an awful lot of $10 best sellers to recoup the purchase price. If Amazon goes under or abandons the Kindle, you lose your entire library. And you can’t pass on or sell an e-book after you’ve read it.
Another group of naysayers claims that the Kindle has missed its window. E-book programs are thriving on the far more portable (and far more popular) iPhones and iPod Touches. Surely smartphones, which already serve as cameras, calculators and Web browsers, will become the dominant e-book readers as well.
The point everyone is missing is that in Technoland, nothing ever replaces anything. E-book readers won’t replace books. The iPhone won’t replace e-book readers. Everything just splinters. They will all thrive, serving their respective audiences.”
I put in bold what I think is crucial. Actors still act on stage despite movies and television, musicians still perform concerts despite recordings, radio and YouTube videos, and readers will still read books regardless of the quality and quantity of e-books that come out. The publishing industry will be affected, of course, but that is a different matter. When it comes to the printed page, there will still be people who long and look for that, and there will still be books to meet that demand and desire.