Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Book vs. the Kindle, Part 1 of 10

People keep asking me, as an owner of an old-fashioned brick-and-mortar independent bookstore, what I think of the Amazon Kindle, one of the many “e-readers” available. So I bought one.

I admit, I was curious. The buzz is nearly screeching; and there must be a reason we don’t sell as many John Grisham novels as we did when I started 16 years ago; and who can resist the appeal of a new gadget dedicated to one of life’s necessary pleasures: reading.

Sure, I had heard some bad stories: there’s the class-action lawsuit against Amazon concerning screens that crack. And the recent brouhaha about Amazon silently removing 1984, Animal Farm, and other titles from Kindles (albeit for a good reason—they had sold pirated copies). And having seen Amazon founder Jeff Bezos laughing on Jon Stewart's Daily Show is enough to make anyone scared.

And while there are some thoughtful, balanced articles out there, like Nicholson Baker’s piece in the current New Yorker, I wanted to see for myself.

So Green Apple's crack video crew came at it with an open mind, pitting “The Book” against the Kindle in a smack-down of the most literary sort. We had plenty of help from some, um, "talented" folks, as you'll see.

What follows over the next ten days are ten short videos, taking a careful, if tongue-in-cheek, look at each “format.”

Enjoy Episode 1, and check back tomorrow for Episode 2.



27 comments:

JJ Casas (jcasasphotography.com) said...

lol i cant wait for the next one and i totally agree. Books win the 1st round.

Lee Ann said...

Since I don't sell my books, my Kindle still wins.

With that said - there's nothing more exciting than squirreling through bookstores such as yours and finding gems. Kindles do not have the ability to allow a user to squirrel and squee.

Spiros said...

Buy counter wisdom from BULL DURHAM:
"This...is a simple job. You see the book, you buy the book, you sell the book. You got it?"
"Sometimes you sell you book, sometimes you don't sell the book; sometimes the book gets rained on."

Karen said...

Thanks for fighting the good fight - can't wait for the rest of the series. I've posted to our bookstore blog - let's spread the word!

Michael Morris said...

This is funny, but it's also a bit disappointing. As a book lover and and someone who worked in the book publishing industry for 14 years, I believe that e-book formats need to be embraced at all levels of the publishing process — author, publisher, distributor, reseller and end buyer. If you try to fight e-books, as the music industry did with digital music, you're going to hurt yourself, as well as books of all varieties.

kpr said...

We've tried to stress that we're not against e-books, as such. They're coming whether we love them or not. It's the proprietary bent of Amazon and that fact that they've branded "the Kindle" to be shorthand for "e-book" (what's that caled when a brand name becomes the de facto name of the product e.g. Kleenex and Vaseline?) that grates.

Michael Morris said...

I can appreciate that. I think why I sensed an opposition to e-books in general is that the video did not single out properties specific to Kindle. The resale issue is, I think, a medium-wide handicap at this point. I'll have to watch the upcoming installments.

John Storhm said...

I have been blogging on the transition to digital books, see my last post at http://burnedbookspublishing.blogspot.com/2009/03/truman-defeats-dewey-will-death-of.html

While I agree that digital books are here to stay and that print is dead, I am not a digital book enthusiast. There are so many technological hurdles that digital books must overcome - they must become platform independent, they must become permanent (i.e. unalterable once published), they must maintain original formatting (if they are reprints) or allow authors and publishers to create beautifully crafted eBooks that have artistry.

While it is funny to ask "where's the book" (like that 1980s commercial where the old lady asks "where's the beef?") the Kindle does not lack books. What it lacks is everything that makes a book an important, persistent, archival, artistic record of human culture.

Barbara said...

Funny, fun ... what happened to storytime? That was hilarious.

Bob Calder said...

I wish the players had admitted the "books" were inside the Kindle and couldn't be freed. The tacit implication that the books couldn't be found was irritating. At issue is the freedom to use and resell adn the freedom to consume in an idiosyncratic way as well. For instance, you might wish to burn a book...

Jooliak said...

Hey! Not true!

I just sold my Kindle today for $250. That's a lot of money for more books!

Spiros said...

"Kindle" somehow inevitably suggests book-burning to my paranoid little Luddite brain...

Bob Calder said...

That's what I'm talking about! Try burning a Kindle!

karen wester newton said...

Phfft! It's cute, but you spent a good amount of time acting out a single negative facet of ebooks that could be said in one sentence: If the files are cloaked in DRM, you can't sell or share them. Although you were careful to show not every book was worth selling back (very truthful of you), you did not address the cost of the used books that were brought in to be sold, and how much they would have cost on Kindle (or in other ebook formats) versus the cost of the print copies. I am sympathetic to bookstores-- I feel a bit like I have a bomb in my purse when I walk into one with my Kindle-- but you are going to need a stronger argument. For one thing, I have probably 40 free ebooks on my Kindle. Sure, I can't sell them, but they didn't cost me anything either. Next time, I would concentrate on a fuller comparison-- show the lovely illustrations in the print and how that book looks on a Kindle or a Sony. And if it's just Kindle you have it in for, try using someone with a foreign accent since the wireless only works in the US.

Sara Paretsky said...

I'm new to your site, but I'm loving the K v B videos, can't wait for the next one.

lagot said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Sara

http://pianotutorial.net

Monica said...

The problem with Kindle (and other new technologies) is that it's being marketed as a blanket replacement instead of an addition to the reading culture. My first sight of a digital book was the security guard where I worked reading one in russian--probably an easier way for him to access books in his own language, than going to the european bookstore over on Larkin. But as Nicholson Baker points out, image quality (like the batman comics) and any design that makes a book an enjoyable object (hi Chip Kidd!) gets lost.

I blame it all on capitalism. It's never enough for a technology to do what it does well. It has to grow and keep growing to make Wall street happy.

Oh, and you folks who are in it for the free books, don't forget another outdated technology, the library, which probably has a wider selection than Amazon.

Love the videos. You guys oughta be in pictures.

Anonymous said...

Cool. Maybe someday someone will read a book about the Kindle and this will be linked by streaming video. :)

Anonymous said...

hi u can get discount from this link coupon kindle

Онлайн кино комедии said...

As always wonderful. Added to bookmarks.

Anonymous said...

excellent job with this site,I really liked what you guys added to the page

louis vuitton mahina said...

thanks for the recipe! long time since I was looking for! note to prepare and share with my family! it is delicious!

gucci large canvas shoulder bag said...

You can use propecia for treatment of hair loss, I used the product for six months and I can see good results.

I can recommend you, you can try for a few months and you are going to look good.

louis said...

I think its a pretty good idea not that there aren't other sites out there that already do something similar but I think it might catch on here pretty well.

seomedicine said...

This post is really much more useful for the people who believe that these days if we have to go with the contemporary era then knowledge is the most important piller in each and every area.Kindle Coupons

Anonymous said...

Discount Winnie The Pooh Checks

Ellen said...

I love books! Actual books! I buy them, I sell them and I love them. Have nothing against ebooks/kindle but I truly enjoy the feel of a real book, I love seeing the artwork that goes into the dust covers. So, I think I will stick to books.

The video is great.

Ellen