01 July 2010

Of Kindles, iPads, and Such

There was a big sale over on woot.com on Kindles this morning- $149 for the first 5000 folks to get there. I was about two hours too late. Not that I really wanted to buy one...I don't. But I might. Maybe.

The problem is, I've used technology long enough now that I know all of it will become obsolete at some point in the future. I started using the personal computer in 1979. It was a Radio Shack TRS-80 (we called it the 'trash eighty' even back then). I've also been buying books for a longer time than that. I don't exactly know when I bought my first book with my own money, but it was probably around 1972. The TRS-80 is a museum piece now, and I wonder if there are any working models left. If you've ever had to save your programming on a cassette player, you'd wonder if the thing was working even then, but it was, all 4K of memory and such.

Funny though, none of my books have ever become obsolete. Granted, I've tossed a few in the trash because they were worthless, but they still worked exactly the same when I tossed them as when they were printed. The only risk was over-zealous salesmanship on the back cover, not a change in technology rendering the thing unusable.

So I have this distaste in my mouth about buying a Kindle or similar reading device. I wonder how much of my investment in books will eventually be lost to technological upgrades (or just hardware failures). The iPad is even more frightening...it costs about two or three times as much as a Kindle. Yes, it does more stuff, but I really don't know how much of that stuff would be useful to me verses how much would be a distraction and time waste. I fear about two-thirds or more of the appeal of the iPad would be time-wasting activities. At least a Kindle-type device is dedicated to reading books, which is rarely a waste of time.

I have jumped into the bible-software revolution with Logos 4, which has several thousand books in digital format. It wasn't cheap, but the thing about Logos is, they guarantee your investment will carry over to the next platform (and have demonstrated it in the move from L3 to L4). Plus, the per-book cost of Logos titles in the upgrade was so much lower than the cost of paper-and-ink books, it was too good a deal to pass up. One of the temptations with the Kindle is, it has a built-in PDF reader. And if I understand the platform, it will read text files, .doc files, .gif files, etc. Any of my Logos titles can be saved in such a format and then loaded onto the Kindle, which makes reading the Logos titles much more accessible (after all, carrying a Kindle is easier than a laptop or even a netbook, and reading from the Kindle screen is supposedly much easier on the eyes than reading from a computer screen). So I'm not totally against digital literature, just worried about it on a long-term basis.


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