Why I’m getting another Kindle after all

In my last post, I complained about my Kindle breaking down and said I didn’t think it was worth replacing and that from now on I was going back to paper books. I would have been quite happy to do so, but my technical advisor (husband) doesn’t like to be beaten by any piece of electronic equipment. He spent half an hour on Skype talking to a very polite, very efficient customer service person at Amazon, who concluded that my Kindle was indeed broken. She then offered several options to replace it with a reconditioned model with a full warranty at a discounted price. We decided to opt for a cheap, no frills model at a far lower price than we would pay retail for a replacement. She even offered free delivery, until she realised that New Zealand is a very long way from the United States (in fact, it’s a long way from everywhere).

My new Kindle arrived a few days later. Sadly, it doesn’t fit in the nice red cover I had for my old Kindle, but I now have access to the ebooks I bought in the past. This episode has made me think carefully about what I read in ebook format and what I read in print. I’ll keep my Kindle for lightweight reading and reading when I’m on the move.

We asked about the expected lifespan of a Kindle, and the helpful customer service person said at least four years. It didn’t seem long to me, and I suppose we were unlucky that my device didn’t even last that long. But then, I don’t expect other electronic equipment such as my laptop to last indefinitely, although I usually manage more than four years.

It made me think, though. To me, one of the advantages of print books is that you can put them on a shelf and they will still be there years later waiting to be read without the aid of any device, except perhaps, reading glasses.  It seems that with ebooks, you have to be much more active in managing the hardware needed to access your book collection.  What’s going to happen when large numbers of Kindles reach the end of their useful lives? Will people replace them or use tablets instead? Will today’s ebooks still be accessible in a decade’s time? Anyone else remember floppy disks?

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