I have mixed feelings about the Kindle. There only 2 benefits that I see with the Kindle. One is the convenience. The convenience to carry multiple books in one small physical space. The convenience of wrapping my arms pretzel-like around and through co-commuters while standing on the Muni and still being able to read the book I’m reading. The other convenience is more fascinating—being able to highlight text and write notes and then have a list of those notes separate from the book, and also the ability to share and, especially, read others’ notes about the same book. Distributed social.

What I don’t like about the Kindle reader is what I have to give up by using it. The ability to insert my finger anywhere in the book and experience it rather than a screen telling me I am 23% complete. I don’t like giving up the ability to generously lend books to friends. I don’t like the idea that who and what and for how long I lend books are mediated by Amazon.com.

I don’t like how library digital books are lent with the same restrictions that paper books have—the model of physical scarcity. I get it. I understand it’s a new frontier and we’re using old forms of reference, so to speak. I wonder what electronic books will be like 5 years from now? 10 years?

I would like to see Kindle’s transmit  what is being read on them to nearby smart-device people as a way to mimic the stalkerish joy of seeing what others are reading around me (on the train, in a cafe, etc)

In the meantime, I own a Kindle. I have a large library of physical books. But moving forward, I’m paralyzed trying to choose between buying a physical book or ordering it on Amazon. I have created a strange amorphous ever-changing hierarchy of how I decide whether to buy the physical or digital manifestation of a book. When I want a simple business book, or a quick read like Tina Fey’s “BossyPants,” I’ll order the digital version. When it’s a book I want to cherish more, or perhaps lend to someone in a very meaningful way, I’ll choose the physical artifact.