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Setting priorities

In anticipation of the arrival of my new Kindle, I was surfing for reviews, tips, and complaints about the Kindle. I discovered something interesting. While the Kindle has some enthusiastic supporters, the hardcore geek sites disparaged it. What those folks seemed to want most was a single, multipurpose device that was the best book reader and the best web surfer and the best phone, and in some cases the best music player. Many of them accord the iPhone that status—or at least, they consider it the best alternative.

But hardcore book readers loved the Kindle because it allowed them to always have books at hand, to read them comfortably, and to buy new books easily. They didn't want a multipurpose device if it wasn't the best way to read books. And while I know there are people who read books on their iPhones, I have trouble believing these folks are true voracious readers. Voracious readers are a distinct subspecies, much beloved by writers. If a favorite author publishes a book, they buy it. And for voracious readers, there can be no compromise of the reading experience. It's a lot harder to lose yourself in a book when you have the turn the page every twenty words, or stop reading in an hour when your eyes get tired.

Of course, there are those who will say that the best way to read a book will always be to pick up a hard-copy book, but I think that sentiment is losing ground in the face of current trends away from using resources—even renewable resources like paper—when we don't have to. That sentiment combined with the new generation's familiarity with reading on a screen spells, if not the death knell for printed books, the arrival of real competition.

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