To Kindle or not to Kindle

So it’s a big week for e-readers (which I’m told are like books except on little miniature computers) as Amazon unveiled Kindle FIRE *sizzle* (sound effects mine), the company’s long-awaited tablet device (i.e. iPad assassin). The $199 doodad is pretty much a Blackberry PlayBookβ€”it has a 7-inch color touch screen, plays movies and music, lets you browse the interwebs and oh, gives you access to like a bazillion e-books. Hooray for technology!

In addition to Fire, Amazon also unveiled new pricing tiers for a variety of other Kindle models: A Kindle Touch runs $99 for a WiFi-enabled version, or $149 for 3G, and a plain old readin’-stuff Kindle is now a mere $79, less than the price of four hardcovers. (You can also still get versions with keyboards, if you’re like geriatric or whatever.)

Now, friends of this blog know I have typically been …whatever the opposite of an enthusiast is when it comes to the Kindle. I’m one of those old-school, paper-loving weirdos that likes to stand on her soapbox and talk about the smell of books, the feel of cracking a spine, the satisfaction of turning a final page. Without physical books, approximately a third of my 330-square-foot apartment would be empty, at least two of my friends would have nothing to borrow, and at this particular moment my purse would be about a thousand pounds lighter (thank you, Under The Dome.)

In a way I can’t remember feeling about the switch from cassettes to CDs or CDs to iPods, I’ve stubbornly held on to my preference for the tangible book, (a preference evidenced by the number of used Barnes & Noble bags I have stored under my kitchen sink.) But although I am a veritable Maxine when it comes to e-reading, I have always said that I would make the switch when it became unavoidable. Yesterday’s announcement raises the question (not only for me, but for everyone in the publishing industry): is it that time? 

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