Unkindled

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To save some trouble, let me just point you to my twitter stream today. I got a Kindle last night, played with it for a few hours, and have decided to send it back. The tech just isn’t there yet. As the twitter-world is asking all sorts of questions, you should go there if you’d like to see the running commentary.

It comes down, in many ways, to the argument that Amazon wants the Kindle to be invisible, as much of a book as a book. And it isn’t. Not even close. The case that would have prevailed for me was if it was able to replace the several thousand books at home. It doesn’t.

The easiest comparison I have is the iPhone/iTouch and my physical CD collection. The CDs take up about fifteen feet of wall space and I stopped counting when it passed 3000 discs. They are useless to me if I’m not at home, and more often than not, I am not there. And, even if I am there, there’s too much to listen. Digitizing the whole collection (which is about a year’s worth of work, probably) means that I can carry a lot of it with me, and we can randomize it by genre and pipe it through the house. And I can put all the discs into storage and get that wall space back for . . . ah, bookshelves. What makes it easy to do this is digital distribution channels of music are much, much better now (Ad Noiseam, one of my favorite labels in Germany, is now selling all their releases as MP3s, which means that I don’t have to spend $20 in shipping to get them from Germany, and emusic.com is still the best deal out there; and Positron Records’ decision to all-digital was probably a risk for them, but they pull it off by having a fantastic interface), the mechanism for ripping and organizing is nearly painless (other than iTunes’ insistence on squatting on my processor while it rips), and the portability of the iTouch.

Not to mention the iTunes App Store and all the goodies it contains (anything by Chillingo right now, Loot Wars, the Buddha Machine, Brian Eno’s Bloom, Stanza e-reader; that’s all on the first screen of my iTouch, there are three more filled with fun distractions).

The Kindle? Nothing about it is as simple, and therefore it is unpolished technology. After eight years of having Windows machines in the house, we recently switched back to all Macs, because doing so makes our lives less complicated. And I’ve decided that tech must make my life simpler and easier or it’s not for me. The Kindle, while it does some things nicely, is still too filled with things that make me annoyed that it isn’t better technology. Technology that is readily available. So, yeah, this version? Not for me.

And really, all I wanted was to put Manly Hall’s Secret Teachings of All Ages in a portable format that I could read anywhere. What happened when I tried to convert the PDF version that I have? Crappy formatting and no pictures. FAIL.