Monday, November 30, 2009

Everything is about shame, including the Amazon Kindle

Katherine Eastland has pointed out a very good article on the Amazon Kindle by Stephen Marche, which reminds me that I wrote a little something on the subject for The American Conservative last month when this blog was still on hiatus. Enjoy it now, if you like:
There is no shame in owning a Kindle. Literally. Ink-and-paper books can be embarrassing. No one wants to be caught red-handed with The Debutante DivorcĂ©e. To get away with reading Gadamer in public would require dressing up like a college professor. And no one, not even a college professor, has enough credibility to read Finnegan’s Wake in broad daylight.

For $259, readers can finally have a little privacy. Books are delivered wirelessly, eliminating clerks from the equation—the Kindle Store will not roll its eyes at you for buying a lowbrow bestseller. And Kindle’s unchanging exterior won’t betray your reading material to the rest of the coffee shop. No wonder Harlequin romances are big sellers.

Kindle is the same size as a book, pages are the same gray as paper, and, for the limited number of titles available in digital format, a Kindle book is cheaper than a paperback. These are welcome developments. But when the old-fashioned codex goes, venerable reading traditions will go with it. What will be lost if readers make the switch to e-books?
Read on—Storm Thorgerson gets an out-of-left-field name-check!

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