Why the Kindle is Safer than Print

November 27, 2009

For the last two days I’ve been reading a good old-fashioned paperback novel. Written by Steve Hely, published by Grove/Atlantic, Inc., it’s called “How I Became a Famous Novelist.” I don’t remember how I first heard about it, but I ordered in from the West Vancouver Public Library and picked it up yesterday. As was promised by the press coverage it is hilarious, a brilliant satire of the world of bestselling authors.


Yet, I’ve now realized, the book reveals two reasons why paper is more dangerous than Kindles (and presumably other eReaders). The problem stems from turning paper pages too quickly. On page 23 of the book the fictional narrator, a hack writer of essays for illiterate college students, becomes upset at a series of profiles in The New York Times on bestselling novelists. He reads a few, and then in disgust turns a page so fast that he gets a paper cut. That WOULD NOT happen on a Kindle!

To make matters worse, the glowing endorsement on the front cover of the paperback, credited to The Brooklyn Alternative, states: “I was turning the pages so fast they nearly burst into flames.” I’ve investigated and apparently they did not in the end burst into flames, and the reviewer suffered neither physical nor psychological trauma.

But keep this in mind. You can turn pages as fast as you wish on a Kindle (actually one of the complaints about the device has been that screen refresh is a little slow, but let’s ignore that quibble) without ever worrying about this eReader bursting into flames. I can’t even find any complaints about overheating: it’s a low energy device.

So this Christmas, as you consider purchasing Mr. Hely’s marvellous “How I Became a Famous Novelist” from Amazon for $10.08 (same at Barnes & Noble if you’ve got a membership), or buying your loved ones a Kindle for $259, just keep in mind that the Kindle may be safer, but “How I Became a Famous Novelist” has not yet been published as an eBook.

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Kindle in the Congo, but not in Canada

November 10, 2009

I subscribe to Amazon’s press release feed and was greeted this morning with the headline, “Kindle for PC’ Now Available — The Free Application for Reading Kindle Books Available on the PC Today for Readers Around the World.” So I went to the download page and received this message:


I’d read last month when Amazon announced that the Kindle itself would be available in 100 countries, that Canada was not to be among them, although Congo would be.

So I googled “Kindle in Canada,” and the top result was an article in the Globe & Mail, Canada’s answer to the New York Times. I clicked the link and was taken to this page:


I learned that to be a GlobePlus subscriber would cost me $159/year, pricey for one article. But then I clicked “Tell me more about licensing this article,” figuring that would offer it for perhaps $30, but to my surprise saw that I could license it for free, printing up to 5 copies. I wonder how the GlobePlus program is succeeding?

At any rate, the article just essentially reiterated that Canadians remain Kindleless (although can easily obtain all other eReaders). According to the piece (which was actually from the Associated Press wire, not even a Globe & Mail story), “An e-mail from Amazon.com public relations confirms the device is not coming to Canada, but offers no reason why. ‘We want to ship Kindle everywhere and we’re working hard on it, but at this time we are not able to ship to Canada,’ wrote Cinthia Portugal.”

An article in Quill & Quire, Canada’s trade magazine for the book publishing community addressed the emotional issue:


Meanwhile a blog entry by Ian Bell speculates that the issue has to do with Amazon being unable to find a wireless network service to carry the Kindle. His rationale is reasonable, but it still seems a stretch to imagine that none of Canada’s several national wireless networks would sign up to join the Kindle hype machine.

No doubt the issue will one day be resolved, and then I will be able to view this on my portable:


Oh joy!

November 17th: Amazon finally announced that the Kindle would be made available in Canada. And now I can download the software too. Oh joy!

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