Paperless Society & the New Kindle


Amazon released a larger version of the Kindle on Wednesday, with a screen size 2 1/2 times larger than the original design. The goal of the screen size changed was to display book pages better, and is geared primarily towards the newspaper, journals, and textbook markets. 70% of Kindle users are over the age of 40, but you can bet that the average customer age will drop if Amazon gets traction with college age customers. This strategy is brilliant on the part of Amazon, and this powerful marketing technique is a great way to get younger people using their products and gain a steady following.

I’ve never physically held a Kindle (though I’ve done plenty of research online), but I’m sure that they are good products. I may even own a Kindle of my own some day. My complaint with the Kindle is really the philosophy behind its creation, and not the technology itself. The philosophy with which I disagree is creating a paperless society.

First of all, no other technology is as proficient & long lasting as ink and paper (aka “the book”). Sure, electronic documents are quick to produce & easy to distribute. However, once printed words & pictures are imprinted on paper it will literally remain there until the material is destroyed. Paper and ink represent a permanence that technology can not match at this point of time.

No batteries, extension cords, charging ports, or any energy sources are needed besides the light needed to read the document. The information can be viewed literally by hundreds of people simply by handing it from person to person. It can survive a fair amount of water damage and rough handling better than technology. It doesn’t get viruses–just mold, food stains, etc. Nothing beats taking a book on vacation, curling up with a book on a blustery night in front of a warm cozy fire when the power is out, or slipping a small book in my pocket to read on the go.

Ebooks primarily appeal to sight, one of the five senses, as do printed documents. They currently do not account for touch, taste, smell, or sound. To be fair, it would be a very easy to include audio readings with ebooks, such as the old fashion read-along books on tape/cd. This would be one function that printed books can not do. However, there also exists information with the ink & paper itself that can not be replicated by technology, such as the texture of paper, the layers of ink and pigments used to create the ink, and the smell of the book. To be fair, there have been attempts to use book-like scents to simulate the smell one would encounter while turning pages of an old book. Thankfully, we don’t have to worry about the sense of taste, although toddlers may disagree.

It would be more appropriate to create a paperless society that COMPLIMENTS printed documents instead of replacing them.

Read more about the Kindle


About repplinger

John has served as a Reference Librarian at Willamette University since 2002. He is the liaison to the Science Departments, and is responsible for maintaining the collections related to the life & physical sciences. His research interests range over the entire spectrum of libraries and information sciences, but includes: - Google and its influence on information & society - The Internet's influence on information seeking & sharing behaviors - Trends of scholarly communication - Electronic learning environments - Traditional pedagogy - GIS use in academic libraries

Posted on May 7, 2009, in Libraries, Philosophies, Technology and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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