Kindle kindles my interest…

Update: From Amazon Customer Service: “At this time, we are unable to offer the Amazon Kindle and associated digital content from the Kindle Store to our international customers due to import/export laws and other restrictions.” Well, never mind. Regular books work just fine for me, even if they do make my bags heavy when I travel. (Not that I was actually about to drop $400 on a gadget anyway!)

Original Post: I love books as artefacts–the look, the smell, the feel of the pages, the jacket designs, the inscriptions on the fly leaves from loved ones, the history of their material existence that old ones carry with them like an aura. Books are also, as many have pointed out, near-perfect technology for their purposes. It has been hard to imagine an electronic device giving as much pleasure, or allowing the same range of uses, even it could deliver the same content. But this week Amazon is launching its new Kindle, and I admit, I’d like to be able to try one out. Mark Thwaite at ReadySteadyBook points us to the write-up at the OUPblog:

With the keyboard driving the ability to look up and notate content, the cellular wireless feature feeds the user with instant ecommerce gratification and enables connectivity to the broader world of content. Imagine finishing an ebook while stranded in the airport and not being able to get more content unless you find a bookstore. With cellular wireless connectivity (Amazon is calling their wireless service Whispernet) you can get instant access to the Amazon ebookstore and buy a new book to while away the hours… And if getting more ebooks instantly isn’t compelling enough, getting access to subscription products such as newspapers will be optimal with Kindle. Wake up every morning and the New York Times will be as up to date as the online version, but as easy and convenient to read as the paper version. (read the rest here)

The Amazon product description amplifies what is meant by ‘notate content’: “By using the keyboard, you can add annotations to text, just like you might write in the margins of a book. And because it is digital, you can edit, delete, and export your notes, highlight and clip key passages, and bookmark pages for future use. You’ll never need to bookmark your last place in the book, because Kindle remembers for you and always opens to the last page you read.” Awesome! But now the question all serious booklovers need answered: can you read the Kindle safely in the bathtub?

Follow-Up: I’m also wondering whether the device will be available for customers outside the U.S. Amazon.Ca does not seem to be listing it. So far I haven’t found this question directly addressed at Amazon.Com; I’ve written to their Customer Service to see what I can find out.

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