The first time I heard about e-books, I was in journalism school back in the early 1990s. I remember lively debates about whether newspapers, magazine and books would be rendered obsolete by the turn of the century, replaced by electronic versions you could hold in the palm of your hand. At the time, these predictions seemed both blasphemous and futuristic.
Last year, when I read about Kindle, Amazon.com's e-book reader, I still didn't believe wireless reading devices would catch on. Kindle sold out in hours after it was released in November, 2007, and remained out of stock for months.
Now Kindle is back, and I read in paidcontent.org that Amazon has lowered the price by $40, which is surprising, given its success when it was launched. It's now going for for $359, still more expensive than Sony's competing digital book, which sells for about $300. Apparently, as production of the Kindle reader increased, manufacturing costs decreased, in turn lowering the retail price.
I can understand the appeal of e-books, especially to people who travel often and want to pack light. Even though it's smaller than most paperbacks, each Kindle reader can hold about 200 titles. When it was released there were 88,000 titles available; now there are 120,000. That's a lot more books than I have on my summer reading list, but I just can't see myself pulling a Kindle out of my beach bag rather than a paperback. Call me old fashioned but I need to be able to turn the pages on a page-turner.Michele Turk is a journalist and author whose first book, Blood, Sweat and Tears: An Oral History of the American Red Cross, was published in 2006. She recently founded e street press, a self-publishing company.