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August 04, 2009

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Professor Tracy McGaugh

Kath, you should try a Kindle for a week or so. It's true that it's cheaper, greener, lighter. But also, the technology really doesn't feel like flickering words on an illuminated page. The technology is really, really good. You lose yourself pretty quickly in the book-ness of it. As far as skimming, you still have that ability.

To me, it's not at all like reading on a computer screen (which is sort of off-putting to me sometimes). After using a Kindle for about 18 months and losing it in June on a plane, I was apoplectic. I did eventually get the Kindle back . . . in the meantime, I attempted to do what I could to clear about my collection of unread "real" books by . . . well, reading them. I am a bibliophile, so I enjoyed reading the real books, but not as much as I enjoy having my Kindle back.

Patrick S. O'Donnell

I'm an unrepentant and unabashed bibliophile and will never buy a Kindle (the fact that we don't have, say, a microwave oven or that I don't own a cellphone are only incidentally related to this). I spend enough time looking at either a computer monitor or the TV screen and looking at or reading a book is blessed relief: it's far easier on my eyes and brings in its wake subtle or refined aesthetic pleasures (well, not always, but enough to notice).

I absolutely adore the sensual nature of books well made: from the typeset to choice of cover art, the smell of the paper and binding, and so on and so forth. No tally of costs and benefits will convince me of the comparative virtues of the Kindle. 'Tis true, our condo looks more like a library than a home and our dining table is my desk (hence stacked with books), but I wouldn't have it any other way. And I even have a perverse bit of fun enlisting family members to help me locate a book after failing to recall where I've placed it!

And although we have a large collection of books, I'm not a book collector. Still, it's hard to describe the pleasure I find in discovering a first edition of a book by a favorite author. For instance, I recently found at my favorite used book store a first edition of Kenneth Rexroth's One Hundred Poems from the Japanese, 1955: "this edition was designed by Hans Mardersteig and printed at the Stamperia Valdonega, Verona [Italy], in the month of July MCMLV, the type used being Bembo."

Lastly, I'm in a state of unadulterated bliss when browsing (used and/or locally owned) bookstores and library shelves.

GJELblogger

I'm VERY torn on the electronic book issue. I don't own a Kindle, but rather a Sony E-reader. I love it because I can download academic papers from places like SSRN and have them in pdf format on the go. I also love that I don't kill any trees this way. And all the public domain books from Google are free, and in a format exclusively for the Sony version of the technology.

Don't get me wrong though, I LOVE books. And perhaps this is my problem. I think libraries are wonderful, and have borrowed my share of books. But now that I can afford to buy books, I want to buy and cherish every book I read. And I simply do not have the space! the E-reader allows me to own, go back and reread, and have my books forever. And if you ever go on a long journey, you can carry several books with you at once, so you're never out of reading material.

The two major flaws that I consider it to have are these: 1) I can't underline my favorite passages or take notes directly in the book, and 2) I can't lend a great book to anyone else.

I'm considering only using the ereader for frivolous sorts of books, like summer novels and that sort of thing, so that the books I really want to write in and share I can still purchase in their paper forms. And I'm not above buying a book twice if I really love it...

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