2008 Gift Giving Guide: The ultimate gift

This installment of the Unclutterer Gift Giving Guide explores what we have decided to be the most decadent present this year that you could give someone to help organize the home or office.

Last year, I recommended the Fujitsu ScanSnap (available for the Mac and PC) as the ultimate organizing gift in our guide. A year has passed, and I still believe that it is the best organizing product on the market.

That being said, it wouldn’t be much fun for you to read the same article two years in a row. So, coming in a close second as the ultimate gift is this year’s nomination: The Kindle.

For people who read while traveling and commuting, read more than five books a month, and/or read a major newspaper on a daily basis, the Kindle is a life-changing product. The amount of paper clutter that it has the ability to reduce in your home can be measured in trees and forests, not stacks of paper. Yes, it is expensive (but can be cost effective for daily users over time). Yes, we acknowledge that it is not a perfect gift for everyone (especially people who don’t spend hours a day consuming media in paper form). And, yes, we know that there are competing products on the market that have similar capabilities (but less selection of books and services).

Acknowledging all of these points, we still highly recommend the Kindle as our most decadent clutter-reducing present of the year.

57 Comments for “2008 Gift Giving Guide: The ultimate gift”

  1. posted by Deirdre on

    And before people go into a tizzy–Amazon has announced that they will be having the 2nd Generation of Kindle out next quarter, and they will be creating a Student version (the same format but with a larger screen, the better to read textbooks) and that is expected to be out in the springtime/first half of 2009. Have question? Go to TechCrunch and search “kindle”.

  2. posted by Acey on

    I bought a Sony PRS-505 reader a few months back and LOVE it. Amazingly I’m reading novels for the first time since high school 10 years ago! Kovid Goyal’s free Calibre software (calibre.kovidgoyal.net) allows Sony reader users the ability to download news from many different newspapers and magazines for free (unlike Kindle’s subscription costs). Admittedly the Kindle’s wireless capabilities are impressive but honestly it hasn’t been an issue for me to plug into my PC to download news for a few minutes. Most books take me many nights to read through in the short time I have available so I don’t need to be constantly adding new ones. Definitely worth considering the Sony if you like the look of the Kindle. Check EBay – I snagged one for $220 used in good condition.

  3. posted by Sushee on

    Great book selection since it’s from Amazon! :-D
    Though not all of the books are in the “digital” form yet.

  4. Profile photo of Erin Doland

    posted by Erin Doland on

    @Sushee — The choice to make books available in a digital format is up to the publisher, and then the author. If the initial publishing contract didn’t include a section about electronic publishing, then a new contract has to be negotiated. I think that you’ll find books that have sold more than 50,000 copies are more likely to make it to digital format than books that sold fewer than 1,000. Publishers, who are also feeling the strain of the current economic status, don’t have much incentive to go back and renegotiate contracts with authors whose books didn’t sell well in paper form. I think that you’ll find most new books hitting the market in electronic format, books from the past 75 years that sold very well, and then books that are in the public domain being what makes it to electronic format — at least while the economy is in its current condition.

  5. Profile photo of Erin Doland

    posted by Erin Doland on

    @Sushee — Additionally, I think you’ll find that since there isn’t an electronic standard (Sony eReaders can’t read the same files Kindles can read, and vice versa) that not all books will be available for all systems.

  6. Profile photo of Erin Doland

    posted by Erin Doland on

    @Deirdre — Actually, Amazon is now reporting that if you order a Kindle that it won’t ship until after the holidays because it wants all the holiday buyers to receive the newest model. So, if you order one now, you get the brand new model.

  7. posted by Fit Bottomed Girls on

    If my husband is reading this right now, I want a Kindle.

  8. posted by Liberty on

    I don’t know why my comment was removed.

    The Kindle contains DRM which prevents you from owning the books you buy. You can’t move the ebooks you “buy” to another device or give them away. Therefor I would not give it to anyone I cared about.

  9. posted by Some Dude on

    Wait a minute, wasn’t there an entry a few weeks ago about the cost of ownership on these things? I thought the consensus was that they’re not worth it until they’re only $100.

  10. Profile photo of Erin Doland

    posted by Erin Doland on

    @Liberty — Your comment was removed because you used an obviously fake e-mail address and so your comment was tagged as spam. (You also included a link in your comment, which also probably sent a flag up in our system.) Additionally, what you wrote is incorrect information. You own an electronic form of a book when you purchase it, regardless of if it has DRM protections. The company you buy the ebook from cannot come and take the book away from you. You do not have the right, however, to “reproduce” that work. The same is true of printed books. It is illegal to make copies (reproductions) of the printed books you buy. You are violating the book’s copyright if you photocopy it. Also, books that you can read on the Kindle aren’t in a format that can be read on any other device. So, even if there wasn’t DRM protection, you couldn’t transfer it to your laptop or iPhone or Sony ebook reader because all of those products read electronic books in different programming languages. It would be like trying to play a VHS tape on a DVD player. The formats are incompatible.

  11. Profile photo of Erin Doland

    posted by Erin Doland on

    @Some Dude — The article concluded that for avid readers, it is worth the price. If you’re a casual reader who isn’t picking up paper media every day, then it’s not for you. That is why in the post above it says that it is not the perfect gift for everyone.

  12. posted by DJ on

    I’m tempted by it because it seems that it would be a nice, lightweight means of taking a lot of reading material along on trips.

    I always bring one paperback book on a trip, but I’m not always in the mood to read that particular book for my entire trip. Or, worse, I often finish it in an airport before my trip is completed. A dire catastrophe, to be sure.

    I can’t imagine splurging on one in these economic times, though, especially without having seen and used one for a while. I do wonder if reading off a screen would give me headaches the same way my reading on my computer often does.

  13. posted by Liberty on

    Thanks for the answer, Erin. Please allow me to correct some of the incorrect information:

    The email address is not a fake. It is simple to verify it is not a fake. Send me an email and I will answer it.

    The link was to valid additional information about the Digital Restriction Management in the Kindle from experts in the field.

    “You own an electronic form of a book when you purchase it, regardless of if it has DRM protections.”

    You do not “own” a book that contains DRM. A primary condition of “owning” an ebook, or book, or CD is the ability to sell it or give it away. We’re not talking about copies, we are talking about the original. It’s called the “first sale doctrine” and has the force of law. The Kindle’s DRM precludes anyone from doing either. You can’t even *loan* it to a friend, as you could with a paper book or non-DRM-infected ebook. Thus, you don’t own it.

    “The company you buy the ebook from cannot come and take the book away from you.”

    That is incorrect. Actually, they can. There have been four instances so far where thousands of “buyers” of DRM-infected copyrighted material have had it taken away from them when the company controlling the DRM decided to no longer support it. Major League Baseball DDS video download service, Wal-Mart music download service, MSN music service, and Yahoo! music service all went dark or threatened to go dark with litte or no warning and no compensation. The people who paid for the content had it effectively removed from their possession without their permission or compensation. Very much like a publisher trespassing in your house and taking books you thought you owned right from your shelves.

    The Kindle’s Terms of Service explicitly state:

    “Your rights under this Agreement will automatically terminate without notice from Amazon if you fail to comply with any term of this Agreement. In case of such termination, you must cease all use of the Software and Amazon may immediately revoke your access to the Service or to Digital Content without notice to you and without refund of any fees.”

    So if Amazon unilaterally decides you’ve violated the “agreement”, they can take away all those books you’ve paid for (but don’t own) without your permission or any compensation. The same will happen when (not if) they decide to turn off the DRM servers at some point in the future as happened in those other three instances.

    “You do not have the right, however, to “reproduce” that work. The same is true of printed books. It is illegal to make copies (reproductions) of the printed books you buy. You are violating the book’s copyright if you photocopy it.”

    That’s a common misunderstanding of copyright law. Another primary condition of “owning” a copyrighted work is ou have EVERY RIGHT to make photocopies or other reproductions FOR YOUR OWN USE. You can also transform it into any form you like. Sing it as a song, scan it into a computer, write it in braille, for your own use.

    Ever record a song from a record you own to a cassette so you can play it in the car? Ever rip a CD so you can put it on your iPod? And as mentioned above, I’m not talking about copies, I’m talking about the original. Can’t do any of that with DRM-infected ebooks.

    “Also, books that you can read on the Kindle aren’t in a format that can be read on any other device. So, even if there wasn’t DRM protection, you couldn’t transfer it to your laptop or iPhone or Sony ebook reader because all of those products read electronic books in different programming languages.”

    That is incorrect. It’s not the programming languages that prevent the transfer, it’s the DRM. It’s *only* the DRM. Without the DRM it would be easy, TRIVIAL in-fact, to exercise your rights to convert the ebooks to alternate formats for use on other devices. Have you ever converted a Word document into a PDF? Ever converted a TIFF or GIF into a JPEG? Conversion from one electronic format to another is as old as computing, and easy to do. There are hundreds of conversion programs out there for non-DRM formats.

    The DRM takes away your right to make those conversions, and the DMCA makes it illegal for you to circumvent the DRM so you can exercise your rights. *Even* for your own personal, non-infringing, backed-by-law, legal use!

    “It would be like trying to play a VHS tape on a DVD player. The formats are incompatible.”

    They are, but you have the *right* to record that VHS tape onto a recordable DVD, or vice versa. The objective of DRM is to *force* you to pay for it again every time you want it in a different format. Kindle reader? $10. Sold it and bought a Sony reader? Buy the same book again for $10. Want to read it on your new netbook? Another $10. Want to print it? Another $10. Switch to Apple laptop? Another $10.

    Oh, and by the way, all those books on your Kindle you paid $10 for? You have to erase them before you can sell the Kindle, and you don’t get to keep any of those ebooks or get your money back. DRM makes it illegal to transfer them to the new reader. They are just *poof* gone. Not that way with a paper book or non-DRM-infected ebook. It’s like being forced to throw out (not give away!) all your paper books and buy them all again when you move! Crazy, isn’t it?

    I encourage you to read Richard Stallman’s “The Right to Read”, written 11 years ago, for a phrophetic look at where DRM on ebooks will lead us. Some of his predictions have already come true with the advent of the Kindle and other defective readers.

    I also encourage you to visit defectivebydesign. org’s site to learn more.

    P.S. The Gutenburg Project is a great source of free ebooks that are not copyrighted or have expired copyrights. They are available in many ebook formats (see easy conversion mentioned above) and languages.

  14. Profile photo of Erin Doland

    posted by Erin Doland on

    @Liberty — The whole staff is curious, how much time did you waste typing that response?

  15. posted by TC on

    Personally, I’d rather cut clutter a much simpler and cheaper way…by taking books out of the library, and then returning them when I’m done. Something about the Kindle just…bugs me. But I’m old, so maybe it’s just that I like to hold a book in my hand, and that’s not relevant to people younger than me.

  16. posted by MH on

    Liberty –

    I just wanted to say thanks very much for the thorough and educational response. It was extremely enlightening and eye-opening.

    I hope you don’t mind that I copied it to share with my patent-attorney/techie husband.

  17. posted by Liberty on

    Erin, assuming you are not being dismissive, I spent just short of 30 minutes of my lunch hour. Hopefully I’ve shed some daylight on the subject for you. Worth every minute if I have.

  18. posted by Susan on

    I for one found Liberty’s communication informative and interesting. Thank you Liberty.

  19. posted by JSS on

    What bugs me about the Kindle is the expense, and the fact that you MUST buy content from Amazon. So much for your local bookstore, or any other choice. I can see the beauty of a Kindle for travel and commuting, but so far, the incompatibilities and expense have not convinced this me to leap. Do the radical thing, and use the public library.

  20. posted by MH on

    BTW, I am a proud Kindle owner. And I probably don’t “deserve” one since I am not a commuter, nor an avid-enough reader. I also love (and use) my library. Furthermore, I have a paper fetish and have resisted but yielded to owning things such as the Kindle (or my Palm Pilot). I still love my paper planner, and no electronic device can offer that turning-the-page feel that is loved by readers.

    Having said that, I love my Kindle. I love that is stores many different reading options, that I can look up a word mid-sentence no matter where I am, that I can “buy” from most any location, that I can change the font-size, that it is so convenient and easy to tote around. I also love that Amazon will let you “preview” the book by sending a sample before committing to buy. It probably has other useful features I have yet to investigate.

    I agree that the Kindle is a bit of an extravagance…but my husband and kids have their MP3 players — this is my “toy”. (I just wish I knew that the second-generation is soon to be.)

    A good recommendation, Erin (to each their own!)
    Love your web site – thanks!

  21. Profile photo of Erin Doland

    posted by Erin Doland on

    @Liberty — We think it was a waste of your time because we can’t do anything about it. Complaining to Unclutterer about DRM is like complaining to your priest that you don’t like how late in the day your mail is delivered. No one loves DRM. No one. We all hate it. We’re all in agreement that we wish it were different. We also all hate taxes and high gas prices and kids who throw bricks through windows. But this is a website about clutter, and your diatribe is not about clutter or organizing or helping other people to improve their lives. All you have done is complain about something Unclutterer can’t fix. If you have a problem with Amazon, then write Amazon.

    That being said, of all the ebook readers out there, the Kindle is still the best. Even with the DRM restrictions it is better than all the rest.

  22. posted by Bill W on

    Enjoy the site, been subscribed for awhile. Don’t know why I got as deep into the comments on this particular article as I did, but… Reading Liberty’s first couple of posts recognized it for what it was – her position on DRM and advocacy of not promoting DRM through the purchase of such products. Agree or not (somewhere in the middle – we do own several ipods), Liberty’s long post was a very cogent an well articulated outline of the issues regarding DRM and First Use Doctrine. In fact, my main hesitation in buying a Kindle is the lack of ability to pass along a book I’ve read to my wife were she to have one also. At least in the iPod case, I can share with up to five family members.

    Having said all that, I am rather disappointed in your response Erin. I don’t know it you and the entire staff did actually discuss Liberty’s post at length but I found your response to be dismissive and snarky. I also don’t know if it is wise as authors/publishers to characterize any time a reader might take to correspond regarding something you’ve written as a waste. It might make them consider whether reading is as well.

    Thanks, and hoping to see a change in demeanor. About ten minutes including proofreading in case you’re wondering.

  23. posted by Bill W on

    Oops, posted a little too late. Still hoping.

  24. posted by Bill W on

    Perhaps Liberty’s diatribe is to point out that Unclutterer’s recommendation is not without drawbacks. I’m sure you would hate to have a reader purchase a Kindle on your recommendation and write later to complain because they finished a book and couldn’t pass it along to another friend who also owns a Kindle. Or perhaps not?

  25. Profile photo of Erin Doland

    posted by Erin Doland on

    @Bill W — Could I have been less snarky? Yes. I apologize for being snarky. However, I’m human and can only handle so much complaining about things I have no control over … like DRM. My cup today, runneth over with complaints, and my cool went over the edge with it.

  26. posted by Shalin on

    I’d soooooo get the Kindle if:
    1) I could send (via personal Kindle e-mail) news articles, links, etc. I found online that I’d like to read later
    2) it could display all webpages (Flash would also be nice, but not necessary).

    Best,
    Shalin

  27. posted by Scott Jones on

    I’m definitely there with you on the ScanSnap – I loooove mine.

    And I’ve heard great things about the Kindle, even though I don’t expect I’ll buy one any time soon. My vote (even though I don’t get actually one) for this year’s best organizing tool isn’t the Kindle.

    It’s the iPod Touch and/or iPhone.

    It’s a tremendous way to declutter, as you can get rid of a TON of cds by converting them to digital and using iTunes to manage that library (much like the benefit of the ScanSnap, but for sounds). I bet a lot of people already have done half of this step, but are still holding onto all those cds. Dump ‘em.

    But it’s also a great way to reduce book clutter, too, as you can easily download audiobooks using either audible.com, amazon.com, or get them free from your local library. Audiobooks are a great way to immerse yourself in a story – particularly if you do a lot of driving. And since you often have both an abridged and unabridged version, you get to choose your investment in any given book. Audible.com is also a great value in that you also get a daily audio digest of the NY Times or Wall St Journal.

    Of course, a major decluttering/organizing function that the iPod Touch and iPhone have are all of the great apps that come with it. So many, in fact, that I will only mention one: there’s a tremendously useful Evernote app (that works great with the ScanSnap) that can virtually eliminate the use of stickies or scraps of paper. Not to mention the built-in apps, like contacts, calendar, photos, camera (iPhone), notes, calculator, and so on.

    Add in Safari and wifi access (or 3G/EDGE if you have the iPhone) and you have an incredibly powerful tool for accessing, managing, and storing information that’s extremely portable and easy to use.

    The Kindle might be a great device – particularly if development continues – but I’d have a hard time putting it above the iPod Touch/iPhone.

  28. posted by Fredrik on

    Wow!

    That was a great response by Libery! Very educational.

    Thanks!

  29. posted by Liberty on

    Erin, I’m surprised and saddened by your response.

    Uncluttering is about taking control of your life, but you dismiss DRM as something beyond your control. That’s exactly what the purveyors of DRM *want* you to think. Kowtow before their mighty Copyright Controls. You are powerless to resist! But you are not.

    Take charge! Don’t buy it! You ARE in control!

    I really enjoy Unclutterer, but thought I should speak up when the site advocated the ultimate gift one could give was giving up one’s rights. You could have said “We’d really like to suggest the Amazon Kindle as the greatest uncluttering gift ever, but we can’t because it ruthlessly tramples your rights.”

    Reading ebooks is great, I do it all the time on my computer, laptop, and Palm Treo. I can use all of those devices because I chose not to give up my rights.

    If you think your rights are a waste of time and beyond your control, I’m very sorry to hear that. The more people who think that, the more likely it is I’ll lose my rights too through their collective complacency.

  30. Profile photo of Erin Doland

    posted by Erin Doland on

    @Liberty — You’re right. I’m being a total tool today. Shouldn’t have been so snarky. I’m just in a craptastic mood. My apologies.

  31. posted by Shalin on

    Liberty’s comments was, I’d say, a quasi-diatribe but I am more clear about DRM than before I read through it and am thankful I did.

    Yet…I gotta agree with Erin that this this is a place dedicated to talk about clutter and uncluttering. Ya know? If Liberty had a brief explanation on how the Kindle’s DRM is linked to Uncluttering, that would make sense. I didn’t see the original comment so I dunno what it was about.

    I think if Liberty would have posted something like:
    *****
    “Oh, but DRM is soooo important as it hugely/entirely negatively affects our creative and consumer rights! Here’s an explainer: URL link”.
    *****

    I think that would be great and I would have clicked on the link to learn more. I think a “shotgun” approach of spreading info all over the place is not as wise as strategically placed info in places that it matters.

    Very best,
    Shalin

  32. posted by Liberty on

    @Shalin, That’s what my first post was, though maybe a bit over-the-top.

    DRM has a direct impact on Uncluttering. When you upgrade to a new ebook reader, you will not be able to transfer the books you paid for from the Kindle. Thus you will have to *keep* the Kindle (clutter) or buy all the books you want to keep *again*.

    The only way to keep those books is to buy another Kindle (assuming it will let you transfer them), which means Amazon has you trapped, which is the objective of DRM.

    The only escape is not to buy any device or content that is infected with DRM. That’s how you keep the clutter down, keep your rights, and keep your money.

  33. posted by Liberty on

    Erin, Thanks, no trouble, we all have our bad days. :-)

  34. posted by Karen on

    TC–I like to think I’m not old, and the Kindle bugs me as well. I *like* having books in my bookcases. In fact, as a homeschooling mom, I was delighted when my husband bought more bookcases for our library, so I could fill them with books that enlighten, educate and entertain. The feel of a book in one’s hand is something I hope the next generation will learn to appreciate. There is something about holding a *book* in your hand that can’t be duplicated by a computer.

    The other thing that bugs me is-I know that after reading just for about 20 minutes on my laptop, my eyes are ready for a break. Not so with paper books. I wonder how much eyestrain the Kindle is responsible for?

  35. posted by Heather on

    I found Liberty’s post to be very informative and didn’t take it as complaining. I was also a bit disappointed in Erin’s response, but I realize we all have bad days, or days when we mis-interpret words on a screen without the benefit of tone, inflection and facial expressions.

    The DRM info is definitely something to consider – we all have old technology lying around (cell phones, palm pilots, computers) – how will our Kindle book collection fare 5, 10 years from now? Are we blindly becoming open-pocketbooks for Jeff Bezos? I think it’s a valid point.

  36. posted by Heather on

    To those wondering about eye-strain, Kindle does not use a back-lit “refreshing” screen like your typical monitor. It utilizes a different kind of technology called “E ink” that isn’t lit or refreshed. The video on the Kindle’s Amazon page describes the technology further.

  37. posted by freecia on

    Kindle 2.0 will surely come. However, techcrunch gets some info from “Sources”, not Amazon Press Releases. Just want to make the distinction clear.

    I have Kindle and plan on buying 2.0 if it offers a faster screen refresh speed. Mind you, I budget for my gadgets because I greatly enjoy them. Wi-fi would be nice, too.

    Regarding the DRM, I bought my kindle as a gift for myself and was aware of the limitations. However, I’m willing to “rent” the ebooks since I’m the one footing my own bill and saving my own physical bookshelf space. There’s good free and legal sources like Project Gutenberg or Baen Free library. I bought the kindle because it has access to new content that I’d like to read. Treasured keeper books are purchased in physical format.

    Gifts that require “more”- I don’t like to give gifts that cost the recipient to spend more like mp3 players, game consoles, and things which require subscriptions. Far from uncluttering someone’s life, it needs more (expensive) stuff just to use the device. If you give such a gift, then also give certificates or time to convert files to the right format for the recipient.

  38. posted by Will Wright on

    Beyond the DRM issue, the Kindle uses it’s own proprietary format and charges for conversion from any other format. There are plenty of e-readers out there that use open formats which the end-user can convert on there own, and even create their own e-texts (shopping lists, to-dos, or diatribes about DRM). Although I have not tried any of the e-readers utilizing the E ink technology, I must say I’m drawn more to the Irex Iliad, as it not only utilizes open formats, but allows annotations and notes to documents, and, as it utilizes linux, can be made to run other programs in addition to the e-reader.

    There are also a few other companies making e-readers with e-ink. Before purchasing any, it might be worthwhile to do a little research to find the one that truly meets your needs. Otherwise, you’ll just end up with another tech-gadget cluttering your home.

  39. posted by Beverly D on

    Wow. Since there is so much going on about this, I was wondering, Erin, if you have a second choice. I’ve also been looking at the Kindle but am not yet ready to take the plunge. So far the disadvantages outweigh the advantages. And I read 4-6 books a week. Not that I think there’s anything that everyone will agree on…

  40. Profile photo of Erin Doland

    posted by Erin Doland on

    @Beverly — I still believe the Kindle is the best way to go. I am looking forward, though, to seeing how Nintendo’s e-book series does in Europe: http://www.mediabistro.com/gal......asp?c=rss

  41. posted by Michele on

    I’ve used a “poor man’s” version of the ScanSnap. My boss allowed me to use the department high-speed printer to scan in a pile of documents. Since it’s an electronic process, it didn’t use company resources, and I did it over lunch, so I wasn’t on company time. What a time saver!

  42. posted by Linda on

    Erin, love the word craptastic and intend to steal it. Thank you

  43. posted by Faculties on

    If you want to own a book permanently, it makes sense to buy a hard copy, because whatever version of Kindle you buy, you can bet it won’t be around, working and readable in twenty years. If you just want to read a book once, it’s cheaper to borrow it from the library, and it certainly doesn’t clutter up your house. The Kindle seems to me like another electronic device that will be obsolete, and hence clutter up your house, in a short time. If you like electronic gizmos, well and good. If you’re actually searching for a way to declutter, it doesn’t seem to me to offer much of an advantage — and the expense of being the device and the books — and the next generation of the device and the books — ad infinitum — outweighs the savings in space.

  44. posted by Malena on

    First let me say that I love love love Unclutterer. (Yeah, my comment’s cluttered with love.) You have inspired me to get rid of junk. And some not so junk. Really, how many papers from my son’s Kindergarten year (he’s in 6th grade) do I really need? And that shirt that I never wore because it made me itch – gone.

    Now general paper – that’s a killer. I’ve burned up two shredders so far. I shred a lot. I’d love a Fujitsu ScanSnap for my files, but right now our household economical climate denies me that pleasure. In the mean time –

    Do you think it’s worth trying to scan as much as possible with my little Dell printer/scanner? I understand that multi-page docs will pose a challenge. But between that and the cool FreedomeFiler system that I’m pondering, surely I could get a semi-grip on the paper. I have a two drawer filing cabinet that is full, and enough paper to fill another one. Do we really need that much paper? Is anyone else in the same boat? What have you tried that worked/didn’t work?

    Help – I’m drowning…

  45. posted by Another Deb on

    I second the motion that the ScanSnap a best fantastic way to get that paper clutter out of your life. Mine is only a month old and I have reduced a large pile of magazine clippings a years’ worth of bill stubs and a bit of teaching materials to PDF files.

    I even scan student projects and the scoresheets I sent back with them so I could document what I saw and said.

    Next week I plan to get everything out of the safety deposit box, scan it all and return it.

  46. posted by Another Deb on

    @Malena,

    The great thing about the ScanSnap is that it converts the files to searchable PDF. I wonder if anyone has considered going co-op with these things. Can you install the software on on more than one computer? Erin? I was going to try that on my laptop but have not yet done it.

    If you are scanning with your Dell,Malena, the upside is that you will reconsider scanning the less important things because you will weed them out and just toss them. Presto, less computer clutter!

  47. posted by caffienejunkie on

    While I love the decluttering and paper saving potential – I don’t like the idea of Kindle. I am a book lover – this thing has no texture, no smell. It’s flat and dull. I do not consider books clutter, but in the effort of keeping my possessions limited I use the local library. The effort to get your hands on something is part of the joy of using it – no matter what your passion is. The Kindle just makes it too easy. Instant gratification is not always the most gratifying.

  48. posted by Karen on

    I also wonder what would happen to public libraries if the Kindle becomes widely popular. I kind of shudder to think of it. Libraries are a wonderful resource, a place for kids and adults to go to and learn, and if Kindle is a sign of the future, I’m not sure I’d want to be a part of a library-free future.

  49. posted by MH on

    Some of our local libraries HAVE Kindles that you can “borrow”. I assume it is the library that downloads the material to the Kindle. This may even be a good way for the library to “test run” some titles before committing to purchasing a hard copy for circulation, depending on the popularity of a certain book. Perhaps it allows libraries to offer more to its users this way.

    Libraries, too, have storage issues — and if they can get rid of less read titles (to Kindle) to make room for more popular books, then it would seem like a win-win situation.

    A drawback would be that the poor book that gets demoted to Kindle-only version doesn’t have a chance with people who might select it while browsing.

    As my daughter’s 8th grade science teacher told his students of the first day of school:

    “Technology giveth and technology taketh away.”

    So true.

  50. posted by Liberty on

    @Karen,
    Libraries, in fact the entire publishing industry, exist because printing, binding, and distributing paper books is an expensive proposition, resulting in real scarcity. Libraries were created because books were so expensive to make and distribute that most people couldn’t afford their own copies.

    With electronic distribution, the costs to “make” and distribute books almost completely disappear. The cost of making a copy of an ebook and sending it to someone is effectively *zero*. But the entire publishing industry is built on the premise that making and distributing copies costs real money. So their entire business model has evaporated. Like most industries that have become irrelevant dinosaurs, the publishing industry refuses to acknowledge that their reason for being has mostly disappeared, and is trying legal and technological means to preserve their existence rather than adapting to the new reality. Thus DRM and DMCA, which create artificial scarcity and outlaw things we take for granted, like selling or giving books away.

    Some authors, like Cory Doctorow, Radiohead, and many, many independent artists are embracing the new reality and distributing their creations online, finding different ways to get paid for their creations. Meanwhile the dinosaurs try to make it illegal to read a book when and where you want!

    Hopefully, ebooks in open, non-DRM-infected formats will become more common that paper books. Lending libraries will be online, with millions of volumes available instantly anywhere in the World. Much like you can retrieve now, in an instant, the great works of Homer, Shakespeare, and Mark Twain from the Gutenburg project. Adults and children will be able to learn wherever they are, at the touch of a button.

    In that positive scenario, brick-and-mortar libraries will become fewer and fewer because we don’t need them anymore to assure that everyone can read a book. Some will adapt, others will close.

    In a darker future, where the Kindle and it’s DRM-laden ilk rule the world, ALL public libraries will be CLOSED! It will be illegal to share a book with a friend, or sell it, or even give it away. It is /already/ illegal to do any of those things with books you buy from Amazon for the Kindle. Imagine, illegal to share a book!

    A prophetic short story predicting just such a future:
    http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/right-to-read.html

  51. posted by Monkey's Momma on

    I really, really want a Kindle. Have been wanting one since they came out, but I am waiting for the second generation!

  52. posted by Malena on

    Another Deb – I think you’re right. Scanning would be such a pain that I’d realize it really wasn’t that important after all! I think I’m gonna save up for a ScanSnap. Surely that won’t take long if I hoard all the change I find lying around the house… I’m thinking a separate hard drive would be appropriate in order to avoid computer clutter overload? And back up that on cd’s? (I’m so not technical. And paranoid.)

  53. posted by Mike on

    Seriously — doesn’t the fact that the kindle is on the big side, very unwieldly, and only capable of doing ONE thing make it a wildly expensive unitasker? Do we really live in an era where something that big can only do one thing? And not even super-well?

    I’ll take my iPhone with itunes and stanza over it any day of the week.

  54. posted by Valerie on

    There is so much debate about this little book-reader! Like anything else, one should shop around and find the price and features that’s right for you. There are a lot of e-book readers out there.

    I received my Kindle 2 weeks ago (it’s my Christmas present) and I absolutely love this thing!

    I have read 2 long novels on it so far and am almost finished with another. I have lots of content on it already, but paid almost nothing (or nothing) for most of it.

    I do not get eyestrain with it (it’s not back-lit like a PC screen). I can adjust the text size. I read faster with the Kindle (not sure why). I also purchased a small book light, but haven’t needed it so far. I have no camplaint with the speed the pages change.

    * If I find a book in another format, I can email the file to my kindle email address and they will convert it. There is a free address that can be used, although the Kindle Boards say they are not charging anyone 10 cents per conversion, even through the other address. They will convert several file types. You can send documents to yourself, or store them on an SD card. Or, I can download to my PC and import into the Kindle anything in several formats (most notably .mobi).

    * It will hold about 200 books, and an SD card can be installed so you can add as much as 8 GB+ more space.

    * It will play mp3 files and audio books. It has speakers or a head-phone jack. You can listen to background music while you read.

    * You can put pictures on it.

    * The screensavers are really nice. You can change them if you want to add new ones.

    * You can use it for email, and receive email using gMail or receive email from anyone you add to your allowed address list.

    * I can search online through Google.

    * It has a basic web browser.

    * You can receive sample chapters to read to decide if you might want to buy the book later.

    * It has a built-in dictionary I can use at any time to get a definition.

    * It saves my place in the book when I put it on ‘sleep’ or turn it off.

    * My purchased books are saved on Amazon’s web site, so I can erase them from my Kindle after I read them, and go back and get them again later if I want to.

    * I can make bookmarks of important pages, highlights of parts of pages, notes, etc. You can put important papers on it, if you want.

    * If you have one and want to share books with a spouse or relative, etc. just add them to the same account… like the iPod, you can 5 (or six) Kindles registered to the same account.

    * I have had almost no trouble with the page-turning keys that many complain about (although they should be smaller).

    I live in the country and have to go a few miles to use the Whispernet, but I bought the Kindle for reading and to reduce my book clutter. I go to an area with the Whispernet reception almost daily, anyway. If I want a book immediately, I can download it to my PC, hook in with the USB, and copy it to the Kindle.

    We aren’t the type of people that go out and bring home tons of books on purpose, but they really do pile up over the years, and I hate to throw them away (I know that makes no sense at all). Most of my web browsing, news reading, email, etc. I would rather do on my PC, so that wasn’t much of a factor in my purchase.

    I still have books and will keep buying ‘Dead Tree’ copies of books that I really care about, but most of the books I read I do not really want to keep forever (I just had no good outlet for getting rid of them without tossing them). That being said, I have 4 large shelves of books I will keep most of the rest of my life.

    We do not have a very good library in our small TX county (it’s mostly religious and kids’ books), and it is a long drive from where I live (30 mins. each way). Books collect a lot of dust here. They are difficult to get rid of (emotionally and IRL). My daughter had a moving sale and had to try to give her books away for free, and even then she was stuck with most of them. There is now a Friends of the Library group where I can give my previously-read books to a good cause (finally!).

    I am a little bit irked that a new version might be coming out ‘soon’, but from what I have read about it, there won’t be anything about it that would make me regret not waiting to buy this.

    I think that spending this much money is an individual decision, and I have wanted one of these readers since they first came out. I understand the expense, since Amazon has to pay Verizon for the Whispernet connectivity. I am a fairly active Amazon shopper, anyway. The DRM issue isn’t very important to me, personally… I will leave that to others.

    For anyone that might be interested in the Kindle, there is an independent and very active, helpful, and friendly message board I found at:
    http://www.kindleboards.com/index.php

    Now and then they have listings for used Kindles for sale.

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  56. posted by Jen Hachigian on

    Hi,

    I’m new here, so I don’t know if anyone’s posted this link:
    http://www.manybooks.net

    ManyBooks offers free eBooks formatted for the electronic device of your choice, including the Kindle and Sony readers. Anything that’s out-of-copyright should be available here.

    -+-

    ManyBooks, the Sony eBookstore and my local library all helped to stem the tide of physical books flooding my bookshelves. However, I still buy physical books if I cannot find them in electronic format or at the library. For example, the Vampire Hunter D series, most graphic novels and “how-to” books on animation are not available in electronic format or at my library.

    So, despite electronic reading and my library, I’m still drowning in physical books. I need to purge more physical books from my out-of-control collection. :^(

    Jen :^)

  57. Profile photo of

    posted by Suzy on

    Libraries do not lend people lend Kindle versions of books yet, which means you would have to buy every book you’d like to read on the Kindle. Sure, the Kindle would be saving you from having physical clutter, but what about digital clutter?
    When it comes to keeping clutter to a minimum, I am a firm believer in the library.

    Still, if there is going to be a system to allows libraries to lend out Kindle versions of books, I’ll be first in line to use that service as keeping a book on a Kindle would make it more portable and probably easier in use than a book.

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