I’ve been hearing a bit about the Amazon Kindle, an electronic book reader the folks at Amazon.com developed. There was quite a bit of buzz about it in its early days. I happened to catch the segment on last Friday’s Oprah where Oprah raved about the gadget, how easy she finds it to use, and how much she’s been using it since getting one. She touted its environmentally friendly nature because people no longer have to print books. Apparently, it doesn’t require a computer connection to get materials. It facilitates word lookups while reading. Kindle purchasers can save US$50 off their purchase with a special offer that might only be good through this Friday, October 31.
An amusing part of the presentation came when she explained how people can ask questions via the Kindle and get answers from the folks at Amazon Mechanical Turk, another Amazon project where people do on-demand work. To me, it didn’t sound any different from contacting the reference desk at a library—other than having an extremely easy way to do it through the Kindle. The audience’s reaction to this “amazing concept” reminded me that Gary Price is right when he says libraries need to market themselves better. It was almost as if people were thinking, “Wow! There’s a place I can go where people answer my questions?” We need more ebook readers to be plugged into the local library.