Book Burning

At the recent Book Expo America, founder Jeff Bezos enthusiastically proclaimed it the year of the Kindle. The electronic book went on the market seven months ago, and now, according to Bezos, its time has come, even gaining endorsements from such literary giants as Toni Morrison.

The Philadelphia Inquirer wondered if the Kindle will be the iPod of e-books, if this is the "decline and fall of the paper book." (Read the full article here.) Acknowledging the notion of paper book as comfort food, Bezos promised the Kindle is just as cozy: "the book disappears in your hands," he stated. "You aren't thinking about the glue and paper and ink. All those things go away and what remains is the author's world." You can download one of the 125,000 books in stock in less than 60 seconds, you can save your margin notes on their server, you can have newspapers and blogs delivered, among other perks.

In many ways, the Kindle sounds suspiciously like a small laptop with a wireless connection and a subscription to a book club.

Nevertheless, bibliophiles are, most likely, pretending such blasphemy doesn't exist. And others aren't so sure about it either. The Inquirer reports that a Random House/Zogby poll found 82% of readers prefer the cloth to the clone. Is there too much intangible stuff wrapped up in the binding of a book, then, to make the electronic book the new coffee table centerpiece?

Then again, this isn't necessarily an either/or situation. But maybe if had picked a less ominous-sounding name, it would feel less so.

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  1. Anonymous11:26 AM

    It seems like a temporary party trick-something that people who read occasionally can show off to there friends that read less then them.

    The glue, ink and paper disappear? They are the things that readers attach themselves to. And I am also sure that most readers do not care that they can download thousands of books in 60 seconds. No one is saying, "oh my god, 2 more "pages" and I will not have anything else to read. I should download books right now."

  2. Anonymous9:42 PM

    Don't we all read too much on the computer already? Sounds like the perfect way to increase the number of people that have eye and vision problems.

  3. Anonymous9:51 PM

    Wake up and smell the coffee!
    Books as we know them are obsolete. Save a tree and buy a Kindle!


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