Wednesday, August 13, 2008

E-Booktalk (copy)

Driving into work this week, I happened to see the oddest thing. Among a group of school children waiting for the bus stood a scrawny child of eight or nine. Her small frame wobbled as she precariously balanced a backpack that looked like it contained four bowling balls. I imagine with a little help, one could empty the bowling balls and have her step in and zip it with ease allowing another child to carry her to school.

Ugh, the back trouble she will face as an adult has my librarian brain stirring. Thirty years from now, she might need exercise books to strengthen weakened muscles, books on spinal health, lists of chiropractics in the area, ratings on the best orthopedic shoes, diet books to keep excess weight off, and peeks into one of our Merck manuals.

What if we could combine all those textbooks into one handy, paperback-size wireless device? The time is approaching with the internet bookstore Amazon’s electronic book called Kindle.

I sound like a commercial, but at this juncture I am not advocating readers run to the nearest computer and order one. I, myself, have held out purchasing the rather expensive $360 e-reader that allows one to download a popular book for $9.99. I am really waiting on Santa.

Electronic books have been on the market for years. I first looked at software which allowed one to download a book onto her computer in 1999. Since that time, Sony has cornered the market with the eReader. The Sony eReader downloads pages through Portable Document Format (PDF) files for $12.95.

There are many reasons to be excited about Amazon’s Kindle. First, it is wireless. Not paid, subscription wireless, but walk anywhere cellular-phone wireless; plus, one need not buy a phone package to use. Second, the display monitor is not backlit like a computer. One actually has to treat Kindle like a real book by searching out a light source to read the text. Third, the size of the font can be changed to six different (one smaller and four larger than default) sizes. An older reader who enjoys large print books now has an unlimited selection from which to choose. Last, one can carry over 200 books within the 10.3 ounces a Kindle weighs.

As a librarian, I am delighted this product is on the market. Just think of all the backs and weary eyes Kindle will relieve. Oh, and the day textbooks become available, the world will change. All I can say is come on Christmas.

Have you tried Kindle?