By some estimates, sales for Amazon's Kindle eBook reader topped 8 million last year. But that hasn't stopped one Oregon bookstore from snatching up the devices in exchange for paperbacks.
Microcosm Publishing, a not-for-profit book publisher and distributor, started a campaign earlier this month with an unusual premise: Swapping unwanted Amazon Kindles for offerings from its inventory.
The idea, said Rio Sasari, manager of Microcosm's Portland store, was born out of the realization that, for many, devices like the Kindle are good in theory, but not so much in execution. This is especially true for people who receive them as gifts. It sounds like a good Christmas gift, because it's something new and trendy, Sasar said.
That's why Microcosm began their campaign in January, at the very peak of the Buyer's Remorse season.
There's is a little bit of pressure to buy these devices, Sasari said. It's pushed very well, and people feel the need to conform a bit and keep up with trends. There are people that feel that pressure, but they just want books, he said.
So far three people have opted into the program. Two of the swapped Kindles are still in transit, but one of the devices just arrived in Portland from a customer in New York. Told by the customer to surprise me Microcosm matched the Kindle's value with selections from the store.
Sasari stressed that Microcosm isn't opposed to the idea of the eBook. The store's staff initially considered the idea of offering some of its products on Amazon's device but ended up forgoing the idea. We don't have anything against the technology, he said. We're just trying to make a positive statement for books. We're just pushing books as something cool, hip and new.
For Sasari and Microcosm, the idea of the book is tied directly to the technology's physical nature. Moreover, the process of selling books by independent authors, who take the take to print, staple and assemble their books themselves, the process can't be replicated with an eBook.
While the program is set to end on Tuesday, Sasari hopes that it will garner enough interest to justify Microcosm bringing the program back for a second time.
Print as empowering medium, Sasari said. It's just nice to get people talking about it.