Web giants Amazon.com first released their portable e-book reader, the Kindle, in 2007. For those of you who, like me, are not up to date with the latest trends and gadgets, I may need to explain what it is the Kindle actually does.
The Kindle stores e-books for you to read. Plain and simple. The current model (a best seller) also includes an Internet feature that allows for access to online literary sources (e-books), which are downloaded and stored to the device’s memory. Portability and ease of use, then, are the main features of the Kindle e-book reader.
In much the same way that an iPod can store your entire music collection, the Kindle can become a sort of portable library. You can take almost every scrap of reading material you want with you wherever you go. This makes it both practical and space-saving when travelling (especially considering new weight/baggage restrictions currently the bane of air travellers worldwide!) Also useful if, like me, you tend to go through a small library’s worth when on holiday!
Will the Kindle replace the book? A more apt question should be why would it even attempt to? The Kindle is simply a useful gadget, aimed at making travel and research easier. Imagine you are a student with a trolley-load of books to carry with you when you undertake the arduous journey home for Uncle Fred’s birthday. The train, the replacement bus service, the delays. Now imagine it was all there, at the touch of a button. Like your MP3 player, and like an MP3 player, slipped easily into your hand luggage when the ticket checker comes over just as the phone goes off in your pocket (I hate that!).
Those of us self-appointed connoisseurs, who care about such things, will always have preferred formats. The feel, smell and texture of a book will always surpass the impersonality of a glowing screen; the Kindle is no threat to the sanctity and earnest humanity of book reading, it is no substitute and nor does it pretend to be. It does, however, perfectly combine the joy of a good book with the rigours of modern life, travel and work.