Posted by: chartroose | February 10, 2009

The Kindle 2 and The Future of the Book

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. 



  1. What do I think? I’m jealous that you’re getting your second Kindle and I haven’t even had my first.

  2. I second Bermudaonion! 🙂 I’m getting closer and closer to breaking down and buying one. It just seems so darned convenient and tree-saving.


  3. I just saw some pictures of the Kindle 2 on Amazon, and it looks amazing. I love the picture of it standing next to a pencil. I certainly can’t afford one, but it looks pretty neat.

  4. I’m surprised you bought it since in the ad it’s sporting the cover of Edgar Sawtelle. 😉

  5. I would love to have a Kindle, but I just splurged on a mini-laptop for myself. A Kindle will have to wait. I think my biggest “concern” is how much I’d use it. I have so many traditional books as it is. I also love the smell, feel, sense of holding a paper book. I may not be environmentally friendly in this way, but I’m an American, damn it! 😉 I know that I will eventually head in your direction. It’s inevitable. Every time I hear about them or see that someone has one I get that tingle in my credit card. 🙂

  6. Paper books dispappearing scares the bajeebus out of me.
    And also, now I’m going to go out and buy tons of books to keep from not having them in the future.
    Imagine if paper books become crazy expensive? Like even more than now? 100$ a pop!?
    You’ve clearly freaked me out!

  7. Oh Kindle, Kindle, how I love and despise thee. I’m so tempted just to get one now because honestly, I love the idea of holding 1500 books in the palm of my hand. But I would so miss my paper books 😦 But I really want one…but I’d miss my paper books…you see the dilemma here…

  8. Well, I’m not sure what it all means ultimately for the publishing world. I know this, though….I’ve tried the Kindle. I hated it. I just need the feel of paper under my fingers.

    But that’s just me.

  9. Although I do want a Kindle or a reader but I don’t think it will affect my physical book buying. Readers, for me, would only be when I am travelling.

  10. Even though I don’t like a lot of aspects to the Kindle, I have to admit that if I had a lot more money, I would buy one.

    I love how books can sit on a shelf and look pretty. I love how when you read a book, you can see your progress by how fast the bookmark is working its way to the end of the book. I love the smell of books. I don’t think the Kindle would smell as nice!

  11. I’d love to have one for travel, though I don’t think I could give up traditional books when at home….this will probably go on my list for Santa next year. Enjoy!

  12. I have a Sony Reader and I love it when I’m traveling. I still read “traditional” books, though. I don’t think we ever have to fear the fate of the traditional book. There will always be a market for one. Plus, the sound of the book opening for the first time, the smell of the pages, how can anyone resist that?

  13. I don’t think the traditional book is dying. Books are vastly more physical than music or movies and I think there will still be a market for them. Besides that, not everyone can afford a Kindle. I certainly can’t and could probably never justify spending $350 on something that is going to be outdated in 2 years when I could just buy the books I’d stored on it for far less. Maybe I’m just too cheap!

  14. Environmentally the Kindle sounds great. Emotionally I don’t think it could ever replace a real book.

  15. Thank you for keeping me up to date on what’s going on. I have yet to try a Kindle, I’m intrigued but I’ll stick with the paper books for now.

  16. I’m sorry but I love my books and my paper! There is nothing like the feel of pages in my hand, and being able to see your progress with your bookmark.
    Maybe some day I’ll break down and get a Kindle, but for right now I want my paper 🙂
    Interesting topic though.

  17. I love the physical feel of books. I don’t think anything can ever replace that. I do realize publishing loads of books is bad for trees- but many books I’ve acquired lately are printed on recycled paper- isn’t that good? I hope books don’t start disappearing, that would make me sad.

  18. I’m hoping my husband/parents/in-laws will get me one this summer as a new mommy present. I was ambivalent about them before, but the marketing of the Kindle 2 is sucking me in.

  19. Paper books disappearing scares the bejeebies out of me too. I do listen to the occasional audiobook but most of the time, I either run out and buy the book halfway through or abandon it.

  20. I’m keeping my fingers crossed on the new Kindle, which would be very handy for travel. That said, I still enjoy reading a book on the hammock!

  21. Hello green-eyed monster! I really want a Kindle, although I will probably still buy just as many real books 😛

    I’m not sure what I think of the Kindle’s effect on the publishing world. As of right now I would say that actual books have a pretty safe place in the world. But within the next 20 years or so I think they may face a definite hurdle. Technological advances are a factor, but I believe it will be today’s kids that have the final impact. Being surrounded daily by my boys and their friends (12-18 range) I am noticing that they always choose the high-tech route – ordering pizza online, not knowing the point of encyclopedias, even the way they prefer to communicate through texting or IMing rather than the phone. The schools also promote gadgets (using keychain usb flash cards to transfer notes to students rather than having students copy them out.) So in the end I think it is the glamour of tech-toys that and how this generation relates to them that will decide the fate of books.

  22. I don’t think the kindle will replace paper, just supplement it. My mom loves her Kindle. I wonder if I can convince her to buy the new one and I can buy her old one off of her.

  23. […] My blog buddy Chartroose has a nice review of the Kindle 2. I’m not ready to spring for an e-book reader, as I explained in a recent post, but I do think it’s the inevitable future of books, so I’m glad some people are stoked over it. […]

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