I finally got round to purchasing an Amazon Kindle device around 6 weeks ago. I bought the Wi-Fi edition for £111 (as compared with £152 for the 3G edition) and what a wonderful device it is!
The main reason I wanted the Kindle was to store the many Cisco technical manuals I need so I could go over and study/revise a relevant topic on the train journey to the office. Networking is just a huge and constantly evolving area, and as you well know, my particular brain has a very limited capacity indeed, so I need to continually study to keep things fixed in place there.
Well, the Kindle has been serving that purpose very well. I currently have over forty very big Cisco technical manuals stored electronically on the Kindle which I dip in and out of every day and it has really been an enormous help to me already.The battery life is also amazing: I got 5 weeks running time out of my first charge and even then the battery still had some juice left before I recharged it again.
What I was unprepared for though was the huge amount of literature that is freely available on the internet and can easily be transferred on to the Kindle – books that would otherwise cost a pretty fortune to get hold of. I am talking about not just genuinely free electronic material whose copyright has expired such as Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes books – which you would still have to pay for if you purchased a print copy, but also material that is not free of copyright including the latest fiction books such as Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy.
The scenario is very reminiscent of the rise of the MP3 format and the havoc that has wreaked in the music industry where music sales have been hugely impacted by illegal MP3 downloads and copying. Book sellers must be very worried indeed.
Anyway, I have already found English translations of the Qur’an by George Sale and JM Rodwell as well as many other little treasures to keep me occupied on the train journey back home.
The whole Kindle experience reminded me of the words of the inspirational scientist, Richard Feynman (who sadly died in 1988).
“What would our librarian at Caltech say, as she runs all over from one building to another, if I tell her that, ten years from now, all of the information that she is struggling to keep track of – 120,000 volumes, stacked from the floor to the ceiling, drawers full of cards, storage rooms full of the older books – can be kept on just one library card! When the University of Brazil, for example, finds that their library is burned, we can send them a copy of every book in our library by striking off a copy from the master plate in a few hours and mailing it in an envelope no bigger or heavier than any other ordinary air mail letter.” (The Pleasure of Finding Things Out, Richard P. Feynman, p122)
Aside from the air mail reference – what would Feynman have made of email! – it is amazingly prescient stuff.