A co-worker was recently telling me how happy she is with her Amazon Kindle. Those who know my fondness for both gadgets and books might be surprised to know I don’t yet own one. Oh, sure, I’ve toyed with the idea of picking one up more than once. But I remain conflicted.
On one hand, I love the idea of being able to carry a library around with me. I like the convenient form factor, the wireless connectivity, and the long battery life. I like the idea of being able to resize text to accommodate my far-from-perfect vision. And I love the large and growing list of titles available.
On the other hand, I find myself with major trust issues. I have books on the shelf in my office that are nearly as old as I am. Most of the hundreds of paperback I’ve picked up since I was a kid are there. When I buy a book, I intend to own it for life. The closed platform and DRM of the Kindle make it unlikely I’ll be able to do either with Kindle e-books. I’ve been burned before, when I couldn’t reactive e-books I bought for Acrobat Reader on my old tablet on my replacement machine. Sure, Amazon tells me I can download books again from their site, if I have to, but how do I know that both a Kindle-compatible device and Amazon will be around in 10 years? How about 20 years? How do I know they won’t get distracted by a change in corporate strategy three years from now, and shut down the download site, the way Microsoft threatened to do with the DRM servers for the MSN Music store earlier this year?
I’m also curious to see how the platform and the e-book market evolve. There seems to be at least a little life there: photos of what appears to be the second generation Kindle turned up at Boy Genius Report last weekend, just in time to share the news cycle with Sony’s release of a new touch-screen Reader, the PRS-700.
Maybe I’ll sit this out a while longer.