The big announcement in November was Amazon’s Kindle eBook reader. Reviews are rather more polarized than mixed — some people hate it, some love it.
I love it. I’m all for Kindle and any other technology that delivers convenience and enhances the quality of my life without further complicating it. I am hopeful that Kindle will allow me to conduct business — professional and personal — in a way that provides me freedom of time and place, as well as to enjoy my leisure without becoming a slave to the very technology that allowed for it in the first place.
Leaving aside the reviews complaining that it’s ugly, there are a couple of areas where people seem split. I find these reviews interesting in terms of how this new innovation will affect those of us seeking to balance life and work.
To me, there seem to be a couple of reasons for an eBook reader, in terms of balancing my life, making my life easier, and helping me keep work and life in tune with each other.
The first of those is simply reading books. I am a voracious reader, and often have three or four books going at one time. Clearly, having several books in one reader would be great for me. I could carry it with me all the time, I could read whichever book I want whenever I want, and I wouldn’t leave one book downstairs when I wanted to read it upstairs.
I picked up a couple of very interesting ideas from a live blog about the launch event on the Engadget blog . “Jeff Bezos! Jeff Bezos! He’s discussing the history of text … every thousand years there’s a paradigm shift in reading. “We forget that this is a technology… but books are a technology. And the process for making them is a very sophisticated technology.” “… The printing press has gotten a lot more sophisticated since Gutenberg’s time … Gutenberg would still recognize a modern day book.”
I agree. This is very interesting. The idea that we still hold onto a book probably has a number of reasons, one being that books are inexpensive and easy to handle, and another being that we have a cultural attachment to a book in a way we may not have had to LP records or audio cassettes.
As for whether Kindle can “beat” the book, I’m not sure it’s an all-or-nothing proposition. Guy Kawasaki captures the whole argument for me: “Most will conclude that it won’t because of cost, requirement to recharge, dropability, and dunkability (ie, in water), and in these ways it won’t. But this is mostly true for novels and any book that you’d read once and not again. However, for reference books, Kindle kicks butt. For example, I would love to have the Chicago Manual of Style on Kindle, so I can search for rules in a much better way than referring to an index. You can roll your own by sending documents to your account, and they will appear on your Kindle.”
This is where the argument, for me, gets interesting. I read a review on Amazon where one guy was saying that what Amazon doesn’t understand is that he doesn’t want to replace a book, he wants to replace his laptop.
I don’t think that’s true for people concerned with lifestyle moderation. I honestly don’t think we want to be able to carry our entire business libraries and all those documents around with us everywhere we go so that we can always work. Anita Campbell  wrote about this over two months ago.
For people who do want that, Kindle is not the right choice at this time, because of its experimental PDF support.
While many reviewers are asking if Kindle can “change how we read,” I think the question is even deeper, in that Kindle may be poised to change how we think. I frequently look things up online that I could look up in a book, much faster than having a dictionary or thesaurus on my desk. How will Kindle change what I do with written words?
Only time will tell. One thing I’m convinced of today, however, is that it will positively affect our abilities to do what we want, when we want. This is always a good thing.
We’ve all been anxiously waiting for the “paperless office” prognostications to come true, yet this promise appears to be a delusion that’s more elusive than ever.
Will Amazon’s new eBook reader change the way we think?
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About the Author: Husband, Father, Friend, Lifestyle Coach, Author, Educator, and Entrepreneur, David B. Bohl is the creator of Slow Down FAST. For more info go to Slow Down Fast  and visit his blog at Slow Down Fast blog.