Without a shadow of a doubt, the best gadget I had during my travels was the Amazon Kindle. I was hugely sceptical about an e-book at first. Buying and reading a book is a great multi-sensory experience, from perusing the book shop to actually owning a physical copy, and finally putting it, dog-eared on your book shelf.
The Kindle robs you of this whole experience, and instead you’re left with a cold, electronic version of a book. But very quickly I realised that’s missing the point completely. The Kindle is so amazingly convenient and it’s simply another way to enjoy reading, just like an iPod is another way to enjoy CDs or LPs.
Equipped with free 3G, Kindle allows you to synch with your Amazon account anywhere in the world, and buy books, newspapers or magazines with one click. A great example of this convenience factor is when I was lost in the extremely hectic and confusing Bolivian capital of La Paz. In minutes I was able to download the Lonely Planet guidebook and find out where I was (while hiding the Kindle to avoid being robbed).
It’s also meant I’ve read far more books than usual. The first chapter of each book can be downloaded for free, meaning my exposure to new books was far higher than normal. There’s even social media compatibility, meaning you can share recommendations and reading lists with your communities.
Amazon reckon that in 2010 e-book sales have nearly doubled sales of their printed counterparts, which is staggering. This poses challenges for ‘traditional’ book stores, as well as printers, who, like the music industry has done to varying degrees of success, will need to adapt.
And for those who still dismiss the Kindle, listen to this: for the last two years, Kindle is Amazon’s best selling item. And with a retail price of around 100GBP, it’s no surprise.
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