Kindle !=Book, just like iPod !=Tape Deck

saw this post and got to thinking, what a bunch of reactionary malarky. Perhaps the write is just trying to get some link love, and that’s fine.

The author makes some basic assertions, that not only don’t really apply or stand up, but seem to be based on strangely romantic, almost anti technology notions.

“Argument one: The Kindle destroys the trace of the author. After the death of the individual author, books continue to live…”

If for no other reason than it’s wasteful, Any book I purchase on the Kindle isn’t likely to go away. Most of my paper books are on my shelves, books are meaningful.  I can’t argue that there’s something special about the feel and heft of a book, but it’s 2009, we don’t play music on magnetic tape, and we don’t need to kill trees to read about over sexed vampire teenagers. So yeah the Kindle isn’t the same, but that’s not a detractor, any more than a tractor not being a vespa doesn’t make one better than the other.

“Argument two: the Kindle destroys the community of readers which books engender. The Kindle has been devised by a society that wants to make profit each time a text is read rather than each time a book is purchased. In the old system, once I bought a book I owned it as an object. I could read it as many times as I liked and give it to friends who may give it to their friends…”

Long before the Kindle arrived, I hadn’t set foot in a Library in years. The only time I went into a book store was the random time I needed a book faster than amazon could deliver it, or was traveling. While I might be alone in this, I almost never loan out books. I’ve purchased a new book and gifted it, several times. Books that meant something special to me, were purchased for people, never gifted. I can count on one hand the books I’ve loaned out. People don’t value other people’s things, they lose them, mistreat them, etc.

The Kindle changes the field, most definitely. Sadly we’re at a stage in technology where long standing industries don’t grasp technology so they try to lock it down. But if you look at the iPod, you’ll see the future of eBooks, unlocked, open to owner to use fairly. Being able to one day trade notes on a shared book, is what I’m hoping the Kindle offers.

“Argument three: the Kindle denies the call to deep, meditative reflection. Books have a magic power in that they can draw us into the world of the author and make time pass quickly while we are immersed in the text. The book is the ideal format for presenting complicated, philosophical arguments that require the reader to pause between paragraphs and reflect. The Kindle is the opposite — it is merely a television for reading text, a computer that will distract us…”

This pretty much clears it up that the author hasn’t ever used a Kindle beyond possibly picking one up off a friends desk and shaking his head and sitting it down. I’m currently reading “Metal Storm: Book 5 (I think) in the Saga of the Seven Suns” and having read the first 4 in paperback, I can say the experience of reading this book on the Kindle compared to the other 4, no different. Not even tin the slightest. I ‘flip’ to the next page and can pause to reflect. The metaphors associated with books, really translate well across the paper to bit divide.

I’d be willing to bet the author hasn’t been in a library any more recently than I have. I don’t know anyone who goes to libraries, I live very near the Denver Metro Library. The few people I know who use libraries do so to rent movies, go figure.

Libraries were great! So were drive-ins, and malt shops. The Kindle destroys libraries and books, the same way the iPod destroys music and recording, that is to say, IT DOESN’T.

I seriously hope that Micah (The author) doesn’t own an iPod, a TiVo, or a DVD or Blue Ray player, as those devices all evolved their respective mediums, not destroyed them.

As much as I hate giving link traffic to places I think don’t deserve it, you’ll have to read the entire article if you want all of Micah’s alarmist, fear mongering style arguments.

By John Wilker

I'm a science fiction writer and conference organizer. In 2017 I published my first book, 'Space Rogues', a fun Sci-Fi adventure with a fun cast of characters. I'm also the co-founder of 360|Conferences, a conference and event logistics consulting company.

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