Or does it? Already dubbed by its creator reading as a service, Amazon's Jeff Bezos announced the release of a new way to make books go where other content (video, music) has gone before -- the digital route. And in the journey it may well destroy yet another industry.
To the tune of $399, you will be able to buy a new wireless electronic device called Kindle that will hold up to 30 hours of reading on a charge. You'll be able to download your favorite books for $9.99 each for new releases and as little as $1.99 for older inventory, as well as magazine and newspaper subscriptions through the Amazon store.
This puts a whole new spin to the "think before you print" motto. If enough people adopt this new technology, we may be able to save paper -- are we going to read more? For sure we're forever changing the way we read. According to Newsweek cover story Bezos
...hopes [it] will leapfrog over previous attempts at e-readers and become the turning point in a transformation toward Book 2.0. That's shorthand for a revolution (already in progress) that will change the way readers read, writers write and publishers publish.
Apparently a mix of portable library and web browser you'll be able to also receive messages to yet another email account, a Kindle one. Whether this will be the death of print concerns me less than if it will be yet another slow down in reading complete books -- the physical or digital kind. I used to read about 120 books a year and since I started spending more time on screen I read a lot less. Some of the statistics cited in the article give an increase in reading for those who spend more time on screen. Reading an entire book takes time, I say that more and more we read bits and pieces of material.
Seth Godin wrote: "This is a disruptive approach, the sort of thing only a market leader could pull off. It changes the world in a serious way." Yet in his view, it introduces a new problem that millions of eligible customers currently don't have -- a reader. I agree with him on that.
As for the rest of the readers, like me you already have a computer, it could even be a laptop, you probably have a phone that sends and receives data, maybe a BlackBerry, why would you need yet another device to read something you can borrow from a library, a friend or even buy used? The Sony reader also used E Ink technology and failed to spread.
If reading where truly a service, and not a fashion object like the iPod, wouldn't we be able to download the software online onto our existing devices? What's the advantage of owning and carrying another one for this price? Help me out here, maybe I'm not seeing something you are. I agree that we're already reading a lot on screen, that being able to download books and link through them would be great (here's a review by Steven Levy). Book reading has had some form of serious decline probably because we already spend so much time reading a lot of other material. Will the Kindle rekindle book reading?