This weekend, I broke down and bought a Kindle — Amazon’s eBook reader. The benefits are obvious: the ability to store over 200 books in the on-board memory (with an expandable SD slot), E Ink for paper-like, easy-on-the-eyes reading, and instant access to thousands of titles from Amazon.com.
While the concept of an eBook reader is not new, the Kindle’s brothership with the world’s largest book store makes it revolutionary.
In short: this thing is a book-loving traveler’s dream. No longer will you have to carry around multiple books on your next trip. If you’re traveling within the U.S., simply use the Kindle’s built in Sprint EVDO Internet access to order new books instantaneously; if you’re traveling abroad, the Sprint connection doesn’t work, but you can still order the book from any computer connected to the Internet, and transfer it to your Kindle via the included USB.
But there’s one market that is bizarrely void of any Kindle coverage: guidebooks. Imagine the possibilities — no longer lug around a thick, heavy Lonely Planet: Wherever. With the Kindle, you can buy your destination’s guidebook from all the top publishers — Lonely Planet, Fodor’s, Moon, whatever — for a fraction of the cost, and store them in one small, light, easy to use gadget. Plus, the Kindle gives you the ability to search for phrases in your entire library, so pulling up all the information from every guidebook on Ulaanbaatar, for instance, is only a few button clicks away.
How come guidebook publishers aren’t taking advantage of this?