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Kindle 2; A Love Affair

My husband surprised me with a Kindle-2 for my birthday. I buy a lot of books, I read a lot of books, I carry around a lot of books and half my duffel is filled with books when I travel. Not good for my back.

So, it arrived, we opened it, we registered it, and within minutes I was smitten. Even when the Kindle is asleep, it is captivating. Portraits of famous writers as delicate as etchings appear, like magic, on the opening “page.” Every time I open the Kindle a new writer greets me. At the moment, it is Lewis Carroll. Last night it was Harriet Beecher Stowe.

I sent my husband out to dinner and downloaded books. Three of them: Best American Poetry, 2008, Anne Enright’s new collection of short stories, Anthony Trollope’s, “The Way We Live Now,” an 800-page tome I cannot ever carry with me but absolutely love to read at the end of the day or when I’m mentally “resting.” 600 pages to go and now it’s on the Kindle. Poetry, contemporary fiction, classic fiction. I’ll order a nonfiction book, too, but haven’t decided which one.

This is the way I read—four books at once at the very least—which makes Kindle the perfect tool for my literary habits: I can toggle between the books as much as I like. And, when I travel, I’ll have them all.

And did I mention the clarity of the reading screen? It is clear and I can increase or decrease the size of the font instantly. And there’s a clipping and note keeping function I’ve yet to explore.

When I told my niece, also an avid reader, about my gift, she was skeptical. “What if the battery dies and you are not near an electrical outlet and you have nothing to read? You’ll have to carry at least one back-up book or the New Yorker or something,” she said.

Well, of course. I’ll still own books, keep books, admire them, feel comforted by their physical presence, neatly organized by author and genre on my book shelves. And I’ll carry a small amount of (paper) reading material with me where ‘ere I go. But I won’t be loaded down any more and I can be selective. I have piles of book I give away every month to friends or to my local thrift store. I never keep books I don’t think I’ll read again. Now I can simply delete them from my Kindle. But I'll have to watch my budget. The price of the download is discounted off the hardcover price. Except for the classics, there are no bargains. Hopefully, this will change soon.

There’s no new technology without challenges. Kindle-2 has an audio component that threatens the livelihood of authors. Unlike audio books that provide royalties, the electronic voice activation on Kindle-2 does not. Here’s a recent message from the Author’s Guild, host of my site, on this issue:

"At the end of the business day on Friday, Amazon announced that it would allow publishers (and thereby many authors) to block text-to-speech audio functionality on a title-by-title basis for its Kindle 2 reading device.

This is a good first step. Amazon's Kindle 2 can convert text to audio through text-to-speech (TTS) software, making it a combination e-book reader and low-quality audiobook device. (The quality of the audio will improve, of course, as TTS software is refined.) Amazon's initial implementation of Kindle 2 would have added audio playback to your e-book regardless of whether Amazon had properly acquired audio rights. For most of you, Amazon's announcement means that it will now respect your contractual right to authorize (or not) the addition of computer-generated audio to your e-books sold for the Kindle. We will be sending recommendations to you shortly on your TTS audio rights.

One important consideration in those recommendations will be to ensure that visually impaired people have access to this technology. Book authors have traditionally authorized royalty-free copies in specialized formats intended for the visually impaired, and copyright law has long provided a means to distribute recordings to the blind. We can work this out.

Wall Street Journal on Amazon's announcement: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123577886475897701.html "

I remain confident that this issue will be resolved to everyone’s satisfaction, amazon and authors alike.

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