I'm suspicious of E-Books. Why would I take a beautiful thing like a book and transfer it to an electronic medium? I love books--especially when they smell a certain way or have a particular heft. There's something comforting about the physicality of an object that is also full of non-physical entities, such as characters and ideas that only come to life when I, as the Reader, participate. Transferring reading to a activity mediated through technology robs the Book of some of its magic and charm.
Perhaps, however, electronic books can still be useful. I've heard nothing but rave reviews of this one, the one that I now want. The Kindle looks amazing. And there are sites like ManyBooks.net that let you download free classics. Classics that I want to read.
It also appeals to my environmental side. Even if I got a free book download, I'd still want to print it out, using lots of paper. The Kindle is created to dodge the tricky issue of using a computer for reading--and it allows you to take notes on what you're looking at. It's also searchable ("What's that book with the thing about green spaces? Oh, let me search my Kindle...there it is!"). I can suddenly see the possibilities for research and travel--if I need to read some books for a project, but I also have to fly somewhere? No problem--I can carry all I need in one tiny device!
One drawback is that it doesn't seem to easily accept PDF files--something that would make it perfect as a research tool. I get a lot of ILL articles and book chapters in PDF format, and to upload them to a Kindle instead of printing them off would be better than anything I could imagine. It seems that they are working on this--and reading the reviews, there are certainly ways to get the PDF file on the Kindle by connecting it to a computer. Sweet!
Needless to say, I'm going to be saving up for this little device. If you'd like to contribute to the Jenn's Kindle Fund, please do! It'll be infinitely useful for my personal enjoyment and my academic career.