Friday, March 12, 2010


"Take a look at my bookshelf", says Leigh Sales.

"Judging from the available space, any books purchased after 2013 will need to be stored in the fridge."

I wouldn't count on it, Leigh. Frankly by the time you actually fill all of those empty shelves, we'll probably have moved beyond having fridges, prefering to store our food as patterns in molecular replicators. And unfortunately you won't be around to see it, having died of old age before you've even needed to shunt that lonely black jug on the top shelf up a bit to make room.

All of this wilfull blindness to the acres of empty shelving is necessary to provide an excuse for Leigh to get a Kindle. I'm given to understand that buying a Kindle is like buying organic produce - none of the reasons for doing so withstand any sort of logical scrutiny, but it feels good and the right people approve of it.

True, the Kindle is light, relatively capacious and easy on the eyes. It's also fragile, expensive, doomed to obsolesence within a decade, and useless if the batteries go flat halfway through 'Eat Pray Love'. And despite Leigh's belief, it's not the cheapest way to buy books.

"Once you fork out the $300 or so for the device," says Leigh, "the cost savings are extraordinary, particularly if you buy a lot of books. The first book I downloaded was Nick Hornby’s ‘Juliet, Naked’ for $11.99. I checked at my local bookstore last week and it was $32.95."

You can buy the paperback edition of 'Juliet Naked' from Book Depository, and have it shipped to your door free of charge, for $11.75... 24c cheaper than the electronic version on the Kindle. Plus when you've finished it you can sell it to the used bookstore for a couple of bucks, or give it to a friend, neither of which can be done by Kindle enthusiasts.

Maybe it's unfair, but I get the impression that the Kindle is a bit like the Prius - a high tech way for monied people to discreetly display their wealth while simultaneously claiming thrift, eco-consciousness and/or general aptitude with the zeitgeist.


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