The first thing to say is that this device is just not photogenic. It is much more pleasing to the eye and touch than any photo, including this one, prepared me for.
My Kindle recognized me without registration. To get things started a bought a copy of The Wealth of Nations, a little more than $3 in this format.
It arrived immediately. Whispernet? Whistlenet.
The first sentence of The Wealth of Nations begins: "The annual labor of every nation is the fund which originally supplies it with all the necessaries and conveniences of life…"
Beautiful to read this black type on gray text (and, yes, thrilling to be one of the first people to read the master in this format). What caught my eye was the term "fund." We use it a lot these days, but what does it mean exactly? I asked Kindle’s on-board dictionary. It gave a definition and then this:
ORIGIN mid 17th cent.: from Latin fundus ‘bottom, piece of landed property.’ The earliest sense was ‘the bottom or lowest part,’ later ‘foundation or basis’; the association with money has perhaps arisen from the idea of landed property being a source of wealth. (The New Oxford American Dictionary.)
How great is that? It is very great. (Gives "the lower 40" new meaning, among other things.)
I used the Kindle keyboard to capture this thought It’s little, the keyboard is, but much better than the sort of thing we must now endure from our cell phone. Let’s put it this way: no one is going to write the next Wealth of Nations on this thing, but notes it can do. And this makes the Kindle dramatically better than its Sony competitor.
The design issue: The early chatter online has gone out of its way to scorn the appearance of the Kindle. It is a good way off the iPod standard. It is not something that you need to hold, that you have to own. But it is attractive and likable in its way.
The cost issue. The Kindle seems to me cheap at ~$400. It is creates a lot of value, not the least of which is that it gives us the first credible device for the delivery and transport of the digital book. This is $400 well spent.
As to the cost of books, well, I think any time you can buy the work of the master for a little over 3 bucks, Amazon and capitalism have triumphed yet again.