Amazon’s Jeff Bezos publicly announced the heavily rumoured Kindle 2 to Americans today, and I think it’s a major step forward in the “eBook” industry.
While hardcover stalwarts will extol the virtues of turning pages, hefting volumes, and smelling ink, I’m more inclined to admire the trees that will be left standing, the gas that will remain unburned from a lack of transporting, and the harsh chemicals that will remain unspilled into rivers and streams when they are not needed to clean the toxic ink that will not be used.
There’s no debating that books (and so many other paper-based products) are an environmental catastrophe. While I would question the benefits of digital butt wipe, devices like the Kindle are clearly harbingers of a more eco-friendly age.
Of course, there’s the matter of convenience, too. Being able to wirelessly download books in under a minute is definitely cool. The ability to annotate and add notes is also helpful for reference and research, as it will sync back onto a PC. The high resolution, “electronic ink” paper-like screen reads well in direct sunlight and uses a fraction of the power of the more common LCD screen.
And, no doubt, the lithe form of the Kindle 2 will save many a late-night bed reader from forehead-bruising, as so often happen with such hefty tomes as The Shock Doctrine, which nearly knocked me unconscious just last night.
Alas, only those south of the 49th parallel may enjoy the virtues of this device. But perhaps that’s okay as my pocketbook would crumble under the weight of the Kindle 2’s $359 price tag.