I am a big fan of Amazon’s Kindle. My husband gave me one as a gift when they first came out, and I went from taking it on the road to read the occasional thing as supplement to the paperbacks and magazines I was going through, to making it my sole form of reading material while out on travel, to wanting to read just about everything on it, period. The ability to change the font size, essentially allowing me to read every book as if it were in large print, is a big reason why — it’s easier to read bigger print when you’re in something that’s moving, as it creates less eyestrain.
I consume an enormous number of books (around a book a day if I’m traveling, and around half that if I’m not). Books are one of the most significant expenses in my household; my husband and I are both voracious consumers of fiction and non-fiction, and we mostly read different books. Kindle helps me spend a lot less on books, sort of — I pay less for the individual books, but because of the convenience, I also read even more than I normally would. And whereas I often used to wait for the paperback, now I buy books as soon as they come out in Kindle form. Plus, while business books are often grotesquely expensive for relatively limited value, especially when they’re in hardback, at Kindle prices, I don’t mind buying a book for the one cool idea in it, instead of standing around in the bookstore, flipping pages. Finally, rather than buying a ton of books that accumulate in piles and sometimes eventually disappear onto the shelves before I actually read them, I read every item I download onto my Kindle.
New York Times reviewer David Pogue understands the Kindle. But opinion columnist Roy Blount totally fails to get it, using the NYT megaphone to whine that the text-to-speech function potentially steals money from authors who would otherwise be able to sell audiobooks.
Seth Godin loves his Kindle. And he has a bunch of great suggestions for taking the Kindle service to the next level. Among other things, he points out that authors need to embrace these new models as a source for lots of new forms of revenue generation, rather than obtusely trying to cling to the way things are.
You can fear the future, or you can think different and embrace it. Devices like the Kindle open up a wealth of opportunities to authors who are willing to seize them.