The following is a reprint of a previously published column. Enjoy!
I wrote yesterday about books that support The Non-Consumer Advocate lifestyle. I received this question from “Daniel.”
What is your opinion on the Kindle device? It does save quite a lot of paper and allows for less expensive distribution of books. Just wondering what your take was on this.
Since I do The Compact, (buy nothing new) I’d never even given one minute’s thought to Amazon’s revolutionary wireless reading device.
My first impulse is to outright dismiss The Kindle. I’m a bit of a techno-phobe, and have repeatedly turned down my husband’s offer to buy me an iPod.
“No thank you, dear. I’m perfectly happy listening to audio books on my Discman.”
Or, maybe something far less polite.
So I clicked my way to the Amazon website, where the Kindle is featured prominently on the home page. The cost is $359, with free super-saver shipping. Hmm . . . that’s a lot of moolah, folks.
I read through the description and user-reviews. Once you buy the Kindle, there’s nothing further to subscribe to. You can instantly buy most any book you want for about $9.99. (That is kind of cool.) It holds around 200 books at a time, and you canstore books you don’t currently need on the Amazon site. The battery sounds like it holds up well and re-charges quickly. It weighs less than a regular paperback, yet holds 200 books?
I can see why people are going nutso for this Kindle thingy.
Wait a minute?! What’s going to happen to all these Kindles in two years when Amazon comes out with a newer, shinier, improved version? (Titanium for him, pink for her.)
Electronic waste is a huge problem in today’s world. Wired magazine had this to say:
“The refuse from discarded electronics products, also known as e-waste, often ends up in landfills or incinerators instead of being recycled. And that means toxic substances like lead, cadmium and mercury that are commonly used in these products can contaminate the land, water and air.”
The Kindle takes a recyclable and virtually indestructible product – a book — and replaces it with a fragile, toxic device that will be obsolesced in a few years. Drop a book and it can get bent pages. Drop a Kindle and you’ve just made a nasty piece of electronic garbage.
But are books perfect?
Not really. Publishers print too many books, many of which then get destroyed. (Recycled? I don’t know.) Few books are currently published on recycled paper, and the inks are usually far from natural. The last Harry Potter book was printed on recycled paper in the U.K. and Canada, but only partially so here in the U.S.
And yes, they do have to be distributed to the bookstores.
What’s my verdict on the Kindle?
I do see how the Kindle would be a great addition on a long vacation, or a trip to the Mir space station. But for most of us, reading an actual paper book is no burden.
I see each purchase I make as a validation of consumer ethics.
What am I supporting with this purchase?
Am I telling the manufacturers to be responsible?
For now, I’ll continue with my juicy stack of old-fashioned library books, knowing there are no damaging components to poison the land.
Besides, my fancy living room shelves would look pretty stupid filled with electronics.
“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”
For information on electronics recycling in your area, click here.
Do you have a Kindle? Let me know how you like it, in the comments section below.