Well, I broke down and preordered a Kindle 2 today. I don’t often mention on this blog how much I adore my little ol’ Kindle because it tends to bother some of my book purist readers and fellow bloggers, but I’ll mention it again now: I absolutely love my Kindle! It’s primitive and clunky but it’s fantastic as well. You can read almost anything on there: books and jounals and blogs and all kinds of other literate stuff. My sister told me it’s the best birthday gift she has ever received, so I’m pretty sure she’s going to be preordering one tonight as well. My Dad will too, as well as several other readers at my workplace who took one look at this device and immediately became as hooked as I was.
The Kindle 2 will be better because it’s slimmer and the buttons are more well-placed, so you won’t accidentally flip through the pages of your current read as easily. The ink is supposed to be even more readable, and the device is suppposed to hold a charge for twice as long. The best thing about the Kindle 2 is that it will READ TO YOU. I am totally stoked about this because I will no longer have to download books and burn them to CD’s to listen to on long trips. I can just turn on my Kindle in the car and listen to anything my heart desires. Imagine the possibilities! I can have The New York Times read to me on the way to work. I can listen to “Boing, Boing” during my lunch break. I can have my work-related journals relayed to me through my headphones at my desk. The best thing is that I can have novels read to me anytime and anyplace when my eyes are sore and I just want to lay back and enjoy the ride. It’ll be sweeeet!
I’ve asked this before, and I’ll ask it again, what does this mean for the publishing industry? Is today’s publishing industry dying? In my opinion, yes it is. Publishing will always be there, and there will always be books, but they will increasingly be published in electronic format. Paper copies will become scarcer and more expensive, and I’m happy and sad about this at the same time. I love my old tomes, but it’s just not cost effective to print and sell them anymore. Paper publishing also hurts the environment. I don’t know if you’ve read about this, but there was a big layoff of all types of publishing employees last November and December. Some of our biggest publishing companies laid off quite a few people, both new and old. Even some of their most venerable and well-respected executives lost their jobs. You can read an article about this here.
There have been times when book bloggers have been partially blamed for the state of the industry. We all know that this opinion is a bunch of hoohaw. Bloggers have very little impact on the state of bookbuying and selling. Our readerships are miniscule, and what we do or don’t do is teensy-tiny in the great scheme of things. The publishing industry is becoming like the music industry: why buy a CD when you can download a song on the internet for less money (or for free)? Why buy a book if you can download it instantly and read it instantly for half price (or for free)? It’s the natural scheme of things: we’ve become more advanced technologically, and things like books and music and other types of entertainment-related media are bound to become part of the machine. As the machine becomes more advanced these components become more available to more people, and thus they become less expensive.
I wonder what will happen to authors. Will they begin to self-publish and hope that readers will buy their books online? Will less or more people write novels? I publish my own little opinion pieces right here on this blog, so I guess I’m a writer too. All bloggers are writers, aren’t they? Maybe I should write a book and publish it online. Maybe this blog IS my book. Maybe I’m babbling…
Let me know what you think.