Is the Kindle already extinct?

March 10, 2010 at 2:36 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Reprinted article I wrote that appeared in the Bryn Mawr College newspaper. It can be found online here.

The highly anticipated Amazon Kindle debuted in November 2007 and sold out in a matter of hours.

Amazon was hailed as a pioneer, paving the path for the e-book industry and leaving the Old Ways of print in the dust. Much as the iPod revolutionized the music industry, the Kindle heralded a new era for the publishing world.

This month Bryn Mawr College joined this new technological wave. A post on the tri-co library blog on Feb. 2 announced to the community, “Curious about the Kindle? Borrow one from Canaday!”

Berry Chamness, Head of Technical Services and coordinator for the tri-co libraries IT, and Melissa Kramer, Head of Bryn Mawr Library Access Services, worked together to get Bryn Mawr a Kindle.

“Melissa and I were talking about e-book readers — and this was actually over a year ago — and would there be any usefulness in libraries for us to possibly circulate an e-book reader of some sort,” said Chamness.

At the time, the Kindle was the best e-book reader on the market. Its competitors — such as Apple’s iPad and Barnes and Noble’s Nook — had not yet launched.

“We wanted to experiment with this and see what kind of use students might make of [the Kindle],” Chamness said.

He and Kramer hoped the Kindle might store course reserves, but found that there was no course that had a substantial amount of course readings available on the Kindle.

This might change as e-books become more popular and publishers tap into the market.

“What we ended up doing was saying, let’s just get some suggestions from students on what they might like to read on an e-book version,” Chamness said.

The post announcing the Kindle’s arrival also listed the several e-books loaded onto the device. These include Moby Dick, Great Expectations, The Mists of Avalon, and Evil Genius. To find a complete table of contents, search “e-book” in the tri-co library search bar. If a book is in the Kindle, it will show up in a search as an “e-book” and be listed as a Kindle edition.

Common anti-e-book reader sentiments include dislike for reading material on screens and a sentimental attachment to curling up on a chair and reading a physical book.

Sara Neidorf ’12 has a friend who can read her homework on her iPod Touch.

“She feels it’s not as good an experience, and she doesn’t get quite as much out of it,” Neidorf said.

Personally, Neidorf isn’t sold on e-book readers.

“I think there’s something physically rewarding about holding the physical book and watching it deteriorate over time,” she said.

Others liked the idea more.

“I don’t have a problem with the digital thing as long as it’s not a computer,” said Rebecca Feuerhammer ’12.

She didn’t have many qualms about the Kindle, and she alluded to its possible advantages if the Bryn Mawr axe finally falls on providing free printing.

Indeed, Feuerhammer said she would look seriously into using the Kindle.
Now that it has been on the market for over two years, some of the dust has cleared — prices dropped on older models, prettier upgrades — but its potential is still limited by publishers.

Many have lobbied publishers to make Kindle-ready versions of their textbooks, whose frequent and various editions often have minimal changes and outrageous price markups.

Amazon globally launched the Kindle DX last May. It has a bigger screen and a PDF reader format. The device is pitched toward consumers that want to read textbooks, newspapers, and documents. Many publishers already offer e-textbooks that students can read on the computer.

For anyone who wants to try out the Kindle, it is held at the Circulation Desk and has a lending period of seven days with a seven-day renewal.

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