eBooks and Cities

Ryan Avent’s recently published Kindle Single on urban economics entitled “The Gated City” finally enticed me to venture into eBooks.  I’ve tested out friends’ Kindles, but never felt the urge to spend my cash on one – I still like the feel of a real book and don’t care to carry yet another device around, particularly one with the limited application of the Kindle.  Likewise, I’m not yet willing to drop the money for an iPad, so my device stalemate continues.

Presented with something I want to read and a product that’s only available in one electronic medium or another, I took the plunge.  Likewise, knowing that other electronic-only publications I’d be interested in are coming down the pike only hastens the point.  Not wanting to hurriedly invest in new hardware, I downloaded the Kindle reader for my computer, as well as the Kindle app for my Droid smartphone.  I already do quite a bit of reading on the go via my phone, mostly through Google Reader and various mobile news sites (anytime the Washington Post wishes to adopt a better mobile site format, it would be welcome).

While I’m not wild about reading long-form works on my laptop any more than I already do, I’ve found the Android reader to work quite nicely.  The added advantage of not being entirely reliant on a wireless signal while underground on the Metro is an added bonus.  I already carry my phone with me all the time, thus there is no need to haul along another device.

Converting to e-books isn’t completely without remorse.  Alon Levy noted (in the comments) his refusal to buy an e-book, noting “they are to browsing at a bookstore what driving is to walking on a commercial street.” Given recent discussions in DC about the loss of third places (that just so happen to sell hardcopy books – not without a bit of irony, given B&N’s foray into e-readers as well), this isn’t a change to take lightly.  At the same time, I’m sure Ryan Avent would note that rapidly increasing rents for your local bookstore are a more worthy culprit – as well as the fact that the innovation that takes place in cities can often be disruptive.

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