I am an enthusiastic convert to the Amazon Kindle. I got one a few days ago, and I can’t say enough good things about it; it’s the ideal commuting companion. The little machine itself costs $260, after which you pay for content. Current bestsellers usually cost $9.99, but the real bargain is the out-of-copyright works: For some $60, you can load onto it the complete works of Shakespeare and Walt Whitman, hundreds of novels by Dickens, Trollope, Jane Austen, Sir Walter Scott, Henry James, Tolstoy, and Dostoyevsky; the complete Summa Theologiae of Aquinas; the Greek dramatists; and several translations of the Bible. Having all this material with you, in such a convenient format, makes possible the constant revisiting of old friends (e.g., a few Psalms, Hamlet) — and also the “impulse reading” of books you might otherwise not have gotten to. (On the subway today, I read the Phoenician Women of Euripides, which I don’t remember ever having read before.)
I am a techno-ignoramus: the last person in the world without a cellphone, and — as people here at NR can testify — a man who a few years ago couldn’t even tell you whether his own desk computer was a Mac or a PC. So when I call a device user-friendly, my praise means something. Today’s New York Times reports that the Nook, the competitor device from Barnes & Noble, is difficult to use – so go with the Kindle. (I realize, of course, that ten years from now, we’ll all have the complete Library of Congress on our $4.99 disposable mobiles; but it’s exciting anyway.)
Hat tip to Rod Dreher for the NYT story; Rod’s post, by the way, takes a negative view of all these devices, and by these comments of mine I risk excommunication from his circle (“Thou, Sir, art neither crunchy, nor a conservative!”). So be it; I’ll console myself by reading some P. G. Wodehouse stories on my little plastic box.