Trade-in Your Kindle for Real Books

Trade-in your Kindle at Microcosm Publishing in Portland for $139-$189 worth of real books. I think this is a terrific idea! The paper, the printed text, the feel and sound when I turn the page. I enjoy all of it when reading a real book. I prefer quality hardbacks and coincidentally just picked up The Second Coming of Steve Jobs by Alan Deutschman at a local library. I’ve read many books about Apple and Steve Jobs but this book, 65 pages in, tells a story of Jobs more as a person than a business icon. The fact that it is a real book makes the reading experience more enjoyable for me.

I’m not so fond of this trend toward e-book readers. I was just at a Barnes & Noble on the corner of Stevens Creek and San Tomas Expressway in San Jose. As I walked in I saw a huge section carved out just for Nooks. There was no way to ignore them so I took hold of a Nook Color and started flipping the pages. The page flip was near instant, unnaturally instant. The feeling was too… digital. The IPS LCD was good enough and worked quite well in the brightly-lit B&N store, but the reading experience was too… gadgety. I’m fidgeting for words because the difference is between the physically real experiencing of touching and reading a book made of paper and an electronic one made with digital pixels. You can’t really flip the pages, instead the digital pages are just a reorientation of the liquid crystals that have been manipulated by sending electrons through a grid of semiconductors.

It was only the second time I was fiddling with a Nook so I didn’t know what I was doing, but I did get a magazine to load. The entire page filled up the screen but the text was unreadably small. I double-tapped on the text, a habit from using iDevices, expecting the paragraph of text to zoom out and fill the screen. The Nook responded by doing absolutely nothing. Hmm. I reoriented the Nook in landscape mode but that only made it worse: now two pages filled the screen! Anyway, I walked away from the huge Nook island unimpressed. The E Ink version with dual displays beckoned but was ignored. I sat down with my cup of coffee, pulled out my iPhone 4, and started reading RSS feeds on Reeder, which I think is absolutely the best RSS reader for the iPhone. This too was digital but RSS feeds started life as digital so there is not an analog equivalent to compare it to. Reading RSS feeds on the iPhone is completely natural though 100% digital. The next generation of kids that start reading books on e-readers and tablets will have vastly different expectations of what it means to read a book. For me, I love the analog experience of reading a real book and probably won’t change.

My recommendation to Microcosm Publishing: allow Kindle users to ship their Kindles to you. And you can ship them a whole bunch of books they pick online.