ENTHUSIAST: My Kindle is awesome. I can carry around hundreds of books in one small package; I can order more books from almost anywhere and have them downloaded to the device in a few seconds. And the books cost a good deal less than their dead-tree equivalents. It’s revolutionary, I tell you.
SKEPTIC: I guess. But what if you lose it, or break it? Then you haven't lost one book, but hundreds.
EN: No, actually, I haven't lost any books at all: they’re all backed up on Amazon’s servers, and I can re-download them whenever I want. (Something I can't do with the music I buy from iTunes or for that matter from Amazon.)
SK: But how can you re-download them if you’ve lost your Kindle? Can you read them online at Amazon’s website?
EN: Well . . . no. That would be cool, but no. I would have to buy another Kindle, and then I could get all my books back.
SK: But at that point you’d have paid around eight hundred bucks for your two Kindles. You’d have to buy a hell of a lot of books at the reduced Kindle price to make that pay for itself.
EN: Well, I do buy a lot of books — but okay. Still, how likely is it that I’ll lose my first Kindle?
SK: Don't know. It varies from person to person, I guess. How careless or accident-prone are you?
EN: Well, I can't remember the last time I lost a book or had one stolen, and I am more careful with the Kindle than with individual books. So I think it’s worth the risk. Especially when I travel, to have so many reading options available to me.
SK: I’m glad you mentioned that. Is having all those options really such a good idea? Think of it this way: Suppose you bring one book along with you on a trip. Suppose you start it and it’s not really doing much for you — you’re having trouble getting into the mood of it, the swing of it. If you have it on a Kindle, you’re almost certain to give up and turn to one of the dozens of other books you have available. But if it’s the only book you’ve got, you’re more likely to stick with it. And if it’s a good book — if it’s a book that holds real pleasure or instruction for the persistent and non-distracted reader — then later on you’ll be glad that you read it. You’ll be glad that you didn’t have something else to read on that trip. You’ll be glad that you had a book instead of a Kindle.
(to be continued)