Addicted to novelty since 2001

Kindle Lands on Canadian Shores

As you may have heard, the Amazon Kindle has finally come to Canada. Chalk up another late victory for the digital content ghetto that is our sprawling nation. We join the likes of Kyrgyzstan, Libya and Oman as countries able to use the gadget.

I’ve played with a Kindle a couple of times, and they’re pretty nifty things. You can store about 1500 books on them (have I read that many books in my life? Surely not) and the battery apparently lasts for two weeks worth of reading. Amazon offers about 300,000 books at US $12 or less, and you can get a bevy of newspapers and magazines online as well.

And yet, I don’t want one.

Cost, Backlog and Snobby Appeal

First there’s the cost. With taxes and import fees, the Kindle is going to cost at least CAN $325 before you buy a single book. Given that you might save an average of $10 per book by buying digital versions, you can start realizing cost savings after buying about 30 books. I wish I read more, but 30 books represents at least two years worth of reading. And who knows what options will be available by then?

Yes, it’s thrilling that I could carry a ton of books with me on the go. But, I don’t have a too-many-books-to-carry problem. I have a not-enough-time-to-read problem. I have at least five or six Audible credits waiting to be used because I’ve got a backlog of audio books which I haven’t listened to yet.

Plus, I’m totally unexcited about yet another electronic device which requires recharging. Plus there’s the ‘valuable object’ problem. If my bag gets stolen and there’s a book in it, then no big deal. If my Kindle gets stolen, then that’s a bigger problem.

Finally, there’s the snobby appeal of having your walls lined with bookshelves, and those bookshelves lined with books.

It’s a cool object, and I can see why lots of people want one. If I ever go back to school, for example, the idea of having all of my text books on one device sounds awesome. Still, I’m not salivating about yesterday’s announcement from Amazon.

Do you want a Kindle?

20 Responses to “Kindle Lands on Canadian Shores”

  1. Russell

    I agree the idea is great but the issue for me as well is having the time to read. As it is I probably listen to more audiobooks that print, and even then I get behind on that.

  2. filmgoerjuan

    I have a disdain for any proprietary device that seeks to control content that I’ve paid for. With a physical book, I can loan it out, resell it, cut it up and make a collage from it (and sell *that*). With Amazon controlling the books I “buy” from them for the Kindle, I don’t have so much confidence about my continued access to the content, let alone my ability to do things one normally does with books.

  3. Todd Sieling

    Snob appeal? I can’t imagine why given the looks. But the disastrous keyboard, the questionable arrangement where Amazon demands 70% of each sale leaving the publisher and author to fight over the 30%, and the absurd dances people need to do to get content onto the device when it’s not bought from Amazon make the ipod look like an open field.

    I feel like the Kindle is the QWERTY keyboard of ereaders, where it does enough that’s innovative to move the industry forward, but fear that somehow we’d get stuck with something less than optimal.

    Having seen the Barnes and Noble Nook and holding out hope for an Apple Tablet, I look forward to drinking to the Kindle’s demise or a ground-up redesign.

  4. alexis

    I want some kind of E-reader for travelling or living overseas. I read almost 200 books every year, which makes it a worthwhile investment for me. I’d still read paper books at home, but I want a e-reader for travelling or long overseas stays, the way I listen to my stereo at home, but have an MP3 for travelling.

  5. Jen

    I’m with you. When I heard the announcement this morning, my initial thought was “swell, but the Kindle only solves a problem I don’t have, so why bother.”

    And I am also a fan of shelves lined with books. There’s something warm and comforting about that to me.

  6. Darren James Harkness

    Charging isn’t as big an issue as you’re used to with most electronic devices. We borrowed a Sony PR-505 for a month from a friend and only had to charge it once in that time.

    That being said, reading off an e-reader wasn’t as comfortable an experience as reading a book in terms of ergonomics (it weighs more than most paperbacks, and feels off, balance-wise), and it didn’t pass the all-important “reading in the tub” test.

  7. Laurence Miall

    I sorta want one, yes. It’s probably not right to want one, but I am an impulsive buyer when it comes to books, and when I want one, I want it NOW! However, Kindle’s selection of books is a little lacklustre. I am going to give it a year or two until a few more than the bestsellers and famous classics are available.

    I sure hope that with the enormously reduced costs that they find a way to pass on at least half the $12 average price to the actual writers, you know? Maybe that’s wishful thinking, but that should really be part of the whole digital revolution, no?

  8. JohnB

    Interested? Nope … and for all the reasons you aren’t interested plus (thank you, Stephanie) the 1984 fiasco. For me, one of the big drawbacks is that I can’t give the book away as I often have or sell it to a used book store (not so often now; very often when just out of high school for for a decade or so afterwards). Another important reason for me is: the library. I regularly come across loads of titles that I think will be interesting. I can check a book out from the library and if it’s just not working out, I can return it the next time I’m in the neighbourhood (which is just about every weekend since it’s near a large grocery store I frequent).

  9. Chaminda

    I am not sold on this idea. Like you said ROI is 2 years for you and for me may be 3 years. I guess if Amazon wants to make it popular, they should bring down the price point. on the flip side, I am waiting for Apple tablet. rumor is there are lot more things you can do with it.

    How about the concept of blood glucose monitor sales…monitor is almost free but strips cost arm and leg.

  10. Erin

    Nope, for several reasons including the ones you mentioned. Even though I could probably recoup the losses in less than a year, it’s not so much a price issue as a general fatigue with gadgetry (which is saying something, as I do love me a good gadget).

    Maybe it’s the lit nerd in me, but there’s something inherently charming about a ‘book’, and there’s a ritual to curling up with one. It’s just an area of my life where I don’t want the charm sucked away by a comparably soulless piece of technology. It’s probably the same reason I prefer writing certain things with pen and paper – as fantastic as my multitude of gadgets are (which our overcrowded charging station can attest to), there are just some places they can’t hit all the right notes.

  11. Travis

    No, but for none of the reasons above.

    I’ve been using the Kindle iPhone version for about a month, and I *love* it.

    Anytime I want, I have my current book with me. Restaurant, airport, ferry, bed, office, I now don’t have to lug a heavy book with me, and yet I still have something good to read, and if I don’t have a book, I can buy one in about 45 seconds.

    Susie loves her Kindle because it’s an even better reading experience, but I’m totally happy to read on the iPhone, and I love the things you can’t do in print — instantly look up words you don’t know, search back in the book for something you want to look up, etc.

    Yes, the not-being-able to lend or resell the books is awful, but I think that DRM is ultimately going to collapse, just like it has for the music industry.

    Those of you who say you like having books — where’s your CD collection? How often do you write a letter instead of an email? Digital wins.

    TTFN
    Travis

    darren Reply:

    “Those of you who say you like having books — where’s your CD collection? How often do you write a letter instead of an email? Digital wins.”

    How’s the market for digital watches these days?

    I jest, but I do think your reasoning is a little specious. Digital mostly wins, but not always. Our relationship to each of these technologies–books, music, interpersonal communication–is a different model of interaction. Some are going to be adopted faster or more completely than others.

    Darren James Harkness Reply:

    This.

    It’s also notable that there is a lot of academic discussion about e-books and the experience of reading going on right now (the general consensus being that the experience of reading doesn’t translate well to the existing devices).

  12. Ryan Dempsey

    I would have bought it right after I first heard of it. But now that it’s finally available in Canada, I don’t want one anymore knowing that it’s now old tech and something better is probably just around the corner. Apple Tablet perhaps?

  13. Leah S.

    Yes, part of me would like a Kindle…don’t see myself reading on a screen the size of an iPhone. However, don’t know if I see myself reading on a Kindle, either. With the time most people spend in front of screens these days, I think I would lean towards the audio option. Rests the eyes and allows for less neck/body pain than sitting, or trying to hold/read something in front of me. Really like the idea for students and textbooks, though. That seems like a cost-saving, environmental and back-saving win-win!

  14. susie gardner

    have one and love it, but i’ll freely admit that the device works best for someone like me who reads at least a couple hundred books a year, carries multiple books when traveling, travels a lot, and reads a lot of popular fiction.

    not to mention having the funds to be able to afford it. although i did cheat and buy one in the u.s. as usual, canadians pay more for their goods than those in the u.s. do, while also having less selection. not an awesome thing.

    as a side note, why in hell is the kindle not on the front of amazon.ca today?

  15. Mike Kelly

    Nope. Don’t want a Kindle.

    I bought a Sony Reader last year and I’m happy with it. Sure, the Kindle has the ability to download books wirelessly, and Amazon’s online bookstore is much larger than the Sony one… but neither of these points matter to me.

    I’ve probably purchased two books from the Sony bookstore since I bought my Reader. Believe it or not, the Reader supports more open formats than the Kindle does – so I’ve picked up numerous free ebooks from various sources on the Internet.

    Being a tech professional, I read a lot of O’Reilly books. So I have a subscription to their “Safari” online book service, where I can read pretty much any book published by O’Reilly & their affiliates online, for a flat monthly subscription rate. O’Reilly’s recently added the ability to download entire books, DRM-free in PDF and ePub formats – both of which are supported by my Sony Reader.

    My Sony Reader (PRS-505) has both SD card and Memory Stick slots, huge battery life (I recharge it about once a month, usually over USB while I load on new content), and is built a lot more solidly than the Kindle is.

    So no, I don’t feel the urge to pick up a Kindle.

  16. JohnB

    @Darren
    “Where’s your CD collection?” – mostly on CDs, my MP3 player is used for listening to podcasts.

    “How often do you write a letter?” Far less often than before but that’s because stamps are expensive and most of my contacts are on email. I do, however, send cards (thank you, birthday, anniversary, Christmas, etc.) via snail-mail.

    Books … loads of real books; and regular visits to http://www.gutenberg.org

    Newspapers: subscribe to G&M and National Post and scan/skim several online (Washington Post, NY Times — via Google)

    Movies: some in theatres; some on DVD from purchases/rentals/library.

    Photos: I took tons of snapshots (not photographs) with my Pentax; I now take tons of snapshots with my Canon. My best picture ever was with the Pentax.

    For some, digital is the default; for me digital competes with all other forms and (within my set of circumstances) I may choose analog or digital.

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