By Lucy Richardson, Staff Writer

iPod is to CD as Kindle is to book.

The Kindle is an electronic book (eBook) reader that can store up to 3,500 books at once — more than most families’ personal libraries.

The most recent version of the Kindle is a white, 1/3-inch-thick rectangle that has a nearly 10-inch screen and a keyboard made of five rows of buttons. There are also navigation keys on the sides, and its battery can last for 14 days.

Because no paper is exchanged when a user buys a book, it’s seen as more environmentally friendly and efficient.

Senior Jennifer Harris is one of few students who own a Kindle.

“[My parents bought it] because I read a lot of books and they were tired of me going to Amazon.com [to buy] the books,” Jennifer said. “I save money and also paper because after I read most books, I lose them.”

Critics and users have given mixed reviews about this high-tech device. Some users don’t like its price, $489. Others don’t like its size, and some find it too fragile.

While there are negative reviews out there, the pros outweigh the cons for many people like Jennifer.

“I can take it on the go,” Jennifer said. “It’s very handy in most cases.”

Amazon’s Kindle database houses around 360,000 books and other material, which may sound like a lot, but users still complain that the books they want to read aren’t included. Users can purchase books from the database using the built-in wireless Internet connection.

Just like the world has seen music media’s progression from eight-track tapes to MP3 players, some speculate that eBooks are the way of the future. eBook sales have consistently increased, and according to a survey by the International Digital Publishing Forum, eBook revenue has more than tripled since September 2008.

Although Amazon won’t release the actual sales of the Kindle, experts have come up with different sales estimates and projections based on Amazon’s annual revenue reports. Some say the sales will reach $1 billion by 2010, but Steve Jobs, of Amazon’s competitor, Apple, thinks Amazon won’t release the sales because the Kindles aren’t selling.

Still, the idea of eBooks is becoming more popular. Barnes and Noble is pre-selling the brand-new Nook, its version of the Kindle. It’s reported that there are so many pre-orders that the delivery date has been pushed back.

But whatever the eBook reader of choice is, the idea is catching on quickly. Although some are reluctant to let the physical book go, Jennifer isn’t.

“I would rather read with the Kindle,” Jennifer said. “It’s the next best thing to sliced bread.”

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