A few months ago I bought an Amazon Kindle to try to answer for myself whether or not it’s better than reading books on paper?
I love reading a book on paper: I know how it works. And I can do it anywhere, if I have my book. I just open it up, and it ‘works’ : the book is just there. There’s no magic buttons to press, no batteries to charge. The only thing to worry about, I guess, is tearing the book apart, or getting it drenched.
The Kindle? Flipping to the next page is a bit funny (You press a button on the side), and you kind of have to charge it every few months. You press a button to turn it on, but otherwise, it looks like a printed page more or less. Less, but that’s not such a big deal. It’s ‘good enough’.
Except, well, it fails in ways that a book doesn’t.
A few weeks ago I found myself standing outside in -15C temperatures. I wanted to read while waiting outside in this weather, and all of a sudden, after a few pages… my Kindle rebooted. It turns out that reading in sub zero temperatures doesn’t work yet. Who would have thought? I was kind of annoyed, but hey, now I know.
So, I started wondering. What happens in failure. People design for making sure that something works as expected, but I found this failure really perplexing. I’d love to have “planned failure” a more important design aspect. A book keeps working in cold weather, why doesn’t my kindle?
To me this was as if my Prius didn’t work in the rain. Or my espresso machine wouldn’t work on Tuesdays.