Amazon.com, kindling the fires of change
Published: Tuesday, February 5, 2008 - 10:18pm
In today’s technologically advanced society, so many things have gone digital. From communication to entertainment, it’s hard to find an area that has remained untouched by technological innovation.
Books are among the last vestiges of analog, refusing after 500 years to give in and become digitized. All that might change with the introduction of the Amazon Kindle.
Having been first sold in November, the Kindle has sparked tremendous interest in the United States. Like the Nintendo Wii, Kindles cannot stay on shelves; even Amazon.com is currently out of stock.
So what makes the Kindle such a desirable gadget?
The technology behind the Kindle captures the typeface of books in ways that a small glowing screen on a pocket PC cannot. Like a book, the Kindle uses ink in the form of a recent technology called E Ink. By rearranging chemicals under the surface of the screen, letters can be made to look exactly like their printed counterparts.
This, combined with a 30-hour battery, will allow a reader to be just as engrossed in a text as if it were printed. The Kindle also allows you to change the font size, which is very convenient for older readers who rely on large-print books.
While the Kindle rivals the book in reader-friendly type, other impressive features might give it enough of an edge to replace the book. One problem with books is that you must buy giant tomes which take a lot of space on your shelf. The Kindle offers a free wireless Internet service called Whispernet, which allows you to access the Amazon store from anywhere and purchase and download books for $9.99. You can even subscribe to magazines and newspapers and have an issue “delivered” to you every morning.
The Kindle certainly has much potential and could greatly impact the realm of writing as well as reading. The Whispernet service allows for authors to fix errors, update, or even add to books they have previously published instead of publishing a new edition.
Whether the Kindle will truly revolutionize the way people read or merely provide an alternative to books remains to be seen. While it may not completely digitize books, it certainly is a first step.