Is reading dead?

Frank Shaw asks.

When I was a kid, all of my friends' parents tried to get them to read more. My parents, on the other hand, were regularly annoyed with me because I would bring a book to every social event I ever attended. There was even the time that my parents forced me to go to some stupid school dance in junior high, so I dressed up nice, hid a walkman and a book in my purse, waved goodbye as they dropped me off, and then promptly walked over to a nearby house and sat on the grass reading by flashlight for two hours until I called my parents to come get me.

Yes, I was (am) a dork.

And to further my dorkitudinal status, I bought a Kindle this weekend. It just makes sense, really... My bookshelves are overflowing. I have multiple copies of some favorite books because I misplaced them in one move or another and wanted to re-read them, so I bought a new copy... and then found the old one. Most of the time, they just sit there taking up space - similar to how my CD rack used to take up a half of a wall in my dorm room. Now, my music collection is the size of my Zune 8gb flash plus a few more gigs on my hard drive.

The most intriguing review I read on Amazon had this comment, theorizing that it was like the beginning of the Tivo era, but for reading: "for the right sort of user, the Kindle will be life-changing ... but it certainly won't be that for everyone". Given my history, I am hopeful that the Kindle will be as welcome an addition to my life as the Tivo was ten years ago[1].

On a side note, Frank references a great customer service experience with Amazon, and NYT has a great story about that as well - as do I. For hannukah I bought my son this funky keyboard+software combo[2] that lets kids easily create (and print!) pictures on the computer. After playing with it for a few weeks, we ran into a bug where it would hang at a certain screen. I filled out the return form on Amazon's site, printed out the RMA and sent it back... and the next day, there was a new one in the mail on its way back to me. Classy, to ship me a replacement before you receive the broken one. Four years ago I blogged about a negative experience with Amazon's customer service, and I am thrilled that they appear to have made a complete turnaround.

[1] Holy cow, has it been that long already?
[2] Which, by the way, is super super super cool. My four year old adores it, can navigate it easily, loves coloring and printing out his creations... and the software even has some smarts built into it, such as a parent-controlled limit on the number of printouts that can be made per-session.

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