Monday, March 30, 2009

The Kindle

OK. I'll admit it. I kind of covet the Kindle. The backlight thing is a problem, yes, one potentially solved by an iPhone, which I won't get for a variety of reasons, until I discover I covet it so much that I must get one, and when I do, I'll get the "old fashioned" one, as I did with the iPod. But whether it's the kindle or the iPhone, I can see the appeal. If I had one, I could read it while I sat with my daughter in her dark room, waiting for her to sleep. If I had one, I would worry about batteries in landfills but not clearcuts. At least there would still be a tree in the forest to hear my anxiety. Finally, if I had a Kindle, I wouldn't worry that I had too many books for my apartment. But then, I also wouldn't have that reassuring pile of books on my nightstand.

Like Josh Marshall, I worry about what the shelves will look like, even the shelves I don't yet have. This will be gotten over, of course, and soon enough reading that's not in cookbooks or atlases or picture books or art books will land in little handheld devices and we'll all say something will be lost, and it will. By then, presumably, the devices will cost nothing so everyone would find them affordable. And if they don't, what do we do then? How do you force someone to buy a reading device?

At the end of The Class, a student tells the teacher about reading Plato's Republic. Her sister had the book, it was lying around, so the student picked it up. Could that kind of accidental encounter happen with the Kindle? Granted, this is a scene from a movie. Who knows what would happen in real life -- I guess that's the point. Who knows once we get used to Kindles or whatever we'll eventually read on, what'll happen. Something will. I guess we'll just have to wait and see.


roni said...

My husband is trying to convince me to buy a Kindle. He tries to sell me on the fact that I could bring it on my business trips and have a few hundred books to choose from. But then it'll be one more gizmo I have to pull out at the TSA checkpoint. Not to mention it took a while to find a work bag that will hold a laptop, Blackberry, iPod, and mobile phone that isn't hideously large, hideously looking, and will fit in the overhead bin. Then I'd have to look for a bag that will fit a Kindle, too? These things were supposed to simplify our lives, no?

Robin Aronson said...

Simplify indeed! You're right. It's a classic tale--like the shuffle -- it should have made m life easier, but I LOST it and now it's just one mor ething for me to wonder about. Well, it's not EXACTLY like that -- it's more like people thinking email would cut down on paper and make it easier to communicate.

C said...

Robin, would you suggest a kindle as a gift for a 15 year old kid?