Friday, January 04, 2008

The Last Bastion of Analog - an idea re-"Kindle"d

My wife and I are talking about downsizing - smaller accommodations, fewer "things", less clutter, minimal household responsibilities. But as soon as we get talking, I know the conversation is going to turn quickly to my library. You see, I love books and I own a lot of them. They are stacked everywhere in our house, in every room, on almost every table, on shelves, on and under pieces of furniture, beside the bed and recliners - you name a location and you'll find a book within reach. Yes, even the ubiquitous bathroom reader on top of the toilet tank in each of three bathrooms.

The book and the magazine are, if you think about it, perfectly designed devices. Unless the book is too heavy or awkward to hold for some other reason, the reader quickly finds himself immersed in the experience, not even noticing the device, something which can't be said about a lot of other devices I use daily. Whether it's a notebook computer, an iPod, a Smart Phone, a Blackberry, or a camera, it would be an exaggeration to say that the experience is immersive.

So when I made a commitment recently to my wife to reconsider my habit of buying and storing books everywhere in order to participate in our joint downsizing initiative, I had to wonder almost immediately whether I had made an unforgivable blunder. I began to reconsider my old Toshiba PDA which I had successfully used to read PDF and Microsoft Reader books until the unit died. Unfortunately, my newer Blackberry and do-almost-everything Windows Mobile 6 HTC 6800 device, and even my notebook computers, are not that great for reading immersively. And if I am truly honest, even my older Toshiba PDA didn't really qualify as a totally immersive experience either.

I've considered opting in to Safari for my addiction to IT and programming reading material, and, at a mere $40 per month, it seems to be a cost-effective alternative to buying $80 computer books at Chapters. But, I would need a notebook computer with me any time I wanted to steal a few moments to do some reading. Forget the bathroom, although there have been moments when I've been immersed in an episode of 24 when I've taken along my notebook instead of fetching the nearest bathroom reader book. Too much information...I know!

But this evening I've discovered a device which somehow bypassed this techophile and avid book reader until I opened an email from with reference to an online article entitled "The 25 Most Innovative Products of 2007" and read about Amazon's Kindle. Even though the EVDO-based wireless network is not yet available in Canada, and even though the available units were all bought up within a little over 5 hours when first released by Amazon, I'll be avidly waiting for Amazon to authorize shipments to Canada. After all, this could be the best way to have my cake and eat it too. Books, magazines, newspapers, blogs, even my MS Word-based business documents, plus an online store when the network is available in Canada - just about the most effective way to downsize a library without jeopardizing the experience of reading.

This might just be the way to breach the final bastion of the analog device!

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