If you'll recall, the Kindle is Amazon's funny-looking handheld "digital reader" device that was released around Christmastime last year and was feared as the innovation that threatened to wipe out the printed book, and hailed as the most modern way to devour a story. The thing didn't really catch on the way, say, the iPod did, but there are a pretty good number of Kindle loyalists out there who swear by the device including her majesty Oprah.
The Algonquin has launched an "eBooks on Demand" program which offers Kindles pre-loaded with "a variety of best-sellers, modern classics" and even a few books written by the members of the hotels legendary Round Table (Fanny Herself by Edna Ferber, Love Conquers All by Robert Benchley). And if you request a book that isn't loaded on there, the hotel can add it for you.
The devices are loaned on a first come, first serve basis at no charge, and can be used in the lobby or in your guestroom.
Now, while we definitely understand the appeal of holding a book in one's hand turning pages, the smell of the ink we also can't help but acknowledge that, well, eBooks are an efficient way for hotels to offer an expansive book selection and a bit of a cleaner and greener option.
Props to the hotel that opened in 1902 for beating out the new guys on this one... though we suspect hotels like Cooper Square may be more into the look of those bookshelves than looking at the books that are on them.