Curse You, Amazon

A few weeks ago, when I finally received my much delayed pay for music direction work, I made the decision to purchase the Sony Reader 700. It's fantastic. I love it. I've loaded the complete works of Dickens and Austen and Poe and Kipling and ever so many others for my reading enjoyment. I've loaded mp3s to the audio section and pdf scans of sheet music, lyrics, and scripts to lighten my load for rehearsals. I've even made ample use of the built in light, which, contrary to the rumors, works wonderfully to light the whole page. Couple all of this with the Google Books deal (free, perfectly formatted access to public domain books scanned and inputted properly by Google instead of potentially buggy, incorrect Gutenberg editions) and the choice was obvious. I haven't been so satisfied by a technology purchase since the release of the Sega Dreamcast. Then Amazon had to go and ruin everything. The Kindle DX is available for pre-order. Basically, Amazon stole the size of the iRex Iliad and the functionality of the Sony Reader and mashed them together with their cheapest-rates-on-new-books store and wireless interface. Native PDF support on a 9.7 inch screen probably would have been enough to sell me on a Kindle. Probably. Here's the deal: I love physical books. I have more than anyone I know in my age and income group and more than I care to take inventory of. I'm an active participant on PaperBackSwap to obtain my own personal copies of hard to find books from obscure horror authors that didn't sell enough copies after winning awards to merit a lasting career. I've even signed up for BooksFree to rent out even more books to tear through at break-neck speeds. Nothing will ever replace physical books for me. However, I tend to read and work with books till they fall apart. I just had to buy my fourth copy of The Handmaid's Tale to write a paper; I'm 23 years old and found out about the book maybe eight years ago. That's a copy every two years on average, though it really meant three copies in two years and an extra last week because of a course on Atwood. Atwood is an exception to my usual reading patterns of public domain and out of print books. Having the Reader means I can work with a digital copy that will last as long as the device remains functional. I don't annotate physical texts, opting to use sticky notes and boxes upon boxes of notebooks to keep track of what I deem important. The guilt I feel over marking up someone else's work in pen or pencil or (Heaven forbid) highlighter is non-existent with a digital text. I can erase any mark with the touch of a finger and have my notes stored separately from the actual book. The Reader is going to save me a ton of money, as how many times can I really expect to let myself go to a good used book store and repurchase that Dickens or that Shakespeare? Isn't insanity doing the same thing over and over again yet expecting a different result? Add on the fact that my eyes are jacked up and can't sustain contact with a computer long enough to actively read a novella, let alone massive tomes like an Anne Radcliffe novel and the choice was clear for me. Will I stop using physical books? Not as long as they exist. Does E-ink technology serve a good purpose in my life? Absolutely. Am I really mad about the Kindle DX? I'm not sure yet. It doesn't have expandable storage like the Sony Readers and doesn't offer the safety net of backing up all my purchases and downloads on my backup hard drive. I'm only mad for sure that the screen is so damn big and perfect for music reading.

Labels: ebooks, kindle, sony reader