I write more for other people's blogs then I do my own.
When I think of the Kindle, I think of an awesome device (the big one is wonderful to use) with a free data connection that needs to be hacked to be useful. Hacked to remove the ability to remove books. Hacked to allow browsing of the web. Hacked to allow my own content to be freely placed on the device. The hacking negates the free data plan because the device no longer functions along Amazon’s business model, but it’s your device – so you can use it how you like. You should be able to get your own data plan. ($20/month)
I don’t see why “E-Readers” would have to remove community behind books and libraries. I can argue that “social networks” could work around the devices and books. Especially around trading books – I’ll get into the legality of that–how authors could still get paid and the usefulness and harmfulness of DRM Encryption in that situation–some other time.
I can also argue that libraries are a place for more then retrieving books. You have librarians who are paid experts and curators of knowledge. A Kindle may have a library of books, but it doesn’t have librarians. On a side note, they don’t have quiet work areas or comfy chairs either.
But even though I have a library down the block from my house, I haven’t had the need to be in one for a long while. I have my own comfy chair, and don’t read books that often.
One thing the Kindle does facilitate that a library can’t is that I could write a book and publish it on the Kindle for free, and distribute it worldwide without cost and with an excellent margin. Sites like Lulu allow me to make print copies, but their costs are non-trivial (good rates, but not cheap). That kind of freedom is liberating. I wont argue that publishing companies are worthless, as they are not, but they’ve had a monopoly on publishing for a long time. Devices like the Kindle allowing for self-publishing make me very happy.
In my head, preferring a paper book over a kindle is akin to preferring a small black and white TV over a larger color one. I don’t see the technology being the problem; it’s a tool like any other, and it can be just as enabling for you and me as it can for companies like Amazon and BookSwim.