Books Beat Kindles

Josie Leavitt - March 15, 2010
Publishers Weekly

Yesterday, I spent seven long hours waiting at JFK Airport, trying to get back home from a quick weekend away in Florida. When faced with so many hours in an airport, I don’t read. I people watch.

I saw more Kindles than I ever have in my life: three. I was curious about these Kindle readers, so I tried to speak with each of them. Only one was interested in talking to me.

I was curious what he was reading and was very surprised to hear he was reading a Louis L’Amour novel. He actually whispered it, telling me, “I would never go to a store to buy this.” He loves his Kindle.I asked if he still went to bookstores and he said somewhat sheepishly, no. This echoes what my family in Florida said, too. I was worried about this, then I looked around the gate area.

The three Kindle readers had stopped reading and were just looking around, as if they needed a break from the screen. All the other book readers, and there must have been about thirty readers at my gate, had their heads down, happily turning pages, fairly oblivious to the chaos around them.

One other thing I didn’t see was anyone recharging their book. Not beholden to the proximity of outlets, the book readers were literally strewn about. (Before folks get mad at me, I understand the battery life of the Kindle is long, but at some point they do need to be recharged.)

Are books dead? Hardly. But it’s clear to me at least, who lives in a very bookstore-friendly state, that the e-reader is creeping into the larger book reading world. The Borders here at the airport even sells preloaded Sony e-readers.

One last quick scan of the gate revealed book readers outnumbering Kindle owners by ten to one. That’s a number I can live with, I think.

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