I bought my wife a $139 Kindle for last Christmas, and she loves it. Every night, I find myself jealous and wanting an e-reader, too, although I'm not quite convinced that Kindle is how I want to do it. Perhaps you saw in my prior post how unfriendly Kindle is to library borrowing. I'm also still debating whether I want a full-blown tablet to be my reading device along with many other things.
In the literary question of whether "to Kindle or not to Kindle," Amazon may have just decided the issue. See, I get into debates with people about whether e-readers are better or worse than printed books. There are the obvious technical arguments both ways. But ultimately, this is not the real issue. The deep question is whether to read or not.
The National Endowment for the Arts reports that "the U.S. population now breaks into two almost equally sized groups -- readers and non-readers. A slight majority of American adults now read literature (113 million) or books (119 million) in any format." Only half of us read books in any format. Does it make sense for us to bicker around the table over technologies while the war for literacy and readership rages outside?
For me, reading is sacred. Many of my fondest memories involve reading, and I stake my livelihood on the millions of people who value reading in a similar way. The Amazon photograph above notes "the joy of reading." It is joyous. It liberates and expands our minds. It takes us to places -- geographical, emotional, informational, and experiential -- that life would otherwise deny us. Mark Coker of Smashwords indicated to me that reading is essential to the future of civilization. I don't think he envisioned advertising and merchandising as part of that role.
You can now buy that $139 Kindle for only $114 -- a massive $25 savings -- if you're willing to view banner ads at the bottom of the home screen and a full-page ad as your screen saver. Amazon lists the following as special offer examples: