Rekindling reading

With the advent of the Xbox, Playstation and blogs, fewer people read books today than ever before

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By  Gareth Van Zyl Published  February 16, 2009

With the advent of the Xbox, Playstation and blogs, fewer people read books today than ever before.

It’s possibly only hardcore environmentalists who might celebrate that fewer people read (after all, less paper equals less destruction of rain forests and all that), while literary advocates must be holding their heads in their hands.

Amazon.com though might have come up with the perfect solution – the company recently launched the Kindle 2 in the US and this e-reader promotes reading amongst those who’ve grown up in the digital age; and it saves on paper.

Currently, the Kindle is only available in the US and retails for $359. Its features include being one third of an inch thin, as thin as most magazines, 10.2 ounces in weight, lighter than a typical paperback; and it has 3G wireless.

Using the Amazon.com service you can get your books delivered to you in less than 60 seconds. The screen itself boasts 16 shades of grey for clear text and even crisper images, and it has 25% longer battery life than the first Kindle.

The Kindle further has a large storage space being capable of holding over 1,500 books, and if you’re not in the mood for reading all those books, it has a Text-to-Speech feature, so Kindle can read every book, blog, magazine and newspaper out loud to you

It also has a selection of over 230,000 books plus, and U.S. and international newspapers, magazines and blogs are available. Furthermore, what makes the Kindle even more interesting is that it has low book prices with New York Times Best Sellers and New Releases being sold at $9.99.

But I still wonder about these e-readers. There’s still something about holding and feeling a magazine, and flicking through the pages while smelling that paper smell. Reading used to be a much more sensual experience. And if you walk into a coffee shop to read your newspaper on your Kindle 2, it might not exactly look cool. There’s something about hiding behind a big newspaper and appearing as though you are being thoroughly informed.

My view is that the Kindle 2 could be a stepping stone for those who aren’t avid readers. It targets those in-between worlds: those who want to read but who also like reading their latest emails on their laptops. Time will tell if the Kindle re-kindles reading.

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