16 October 2009

where i hope technology fails...

That sounds like a really negative post title, doesn't it? Well, I don't hope that technology fails, completely. I think that technology is amazing. In fact, yesterday I got an iphone (it was a wedding gift) and I kind of, sort of love it. I don't completely love it, yet, but I think that's because I don't completely know how to use it, you know?  I was just figuring out how to get the most out of my blackberry, and then I suddenly have to change technologies, and carriers, all for a family plan... just kidding. I'm sure it will be worth it. I've been coveting them for quite a while.

But where I (not-so) secretly hope that technology fails us is in the Kindle. I wasn't so opposed to the success of any other forms of technology.  But something about the Kindle just, well, sucks.  One of the best things about reading is the activity behind it.

Going to the bookshelf. Thumbing through all your books to see which one asks you to read it. Holding the weight of the book in your hand. Turning the pages, physically. Feeling like arriving at page 300 is a serious accomplishment, because you gauge how far you've come on this journey with these characters. Being able to, if the mood strikes (or you're reading for serious purposes and not for unabashed enjoyment), underline something. Or make a (sometimes not-so) witty comment, in pencil, that you can erase when you've gotten past your joke. Writing your name inside the book when you're finished.  Finding its home again, next to the rest of these books, all of which you have shared similar experiences with. 

Something about the Kindle really irks me, though. The tablet. The pages that "mimic" turning, the way that the digital cameras make the "click" sound that is just to try to make people feel more involved. The difference, however, is that most people didn't develop their own pictures, or physically imprint the image onto the negative.  They enjoyed them afterwards, and sharing photos between people was exponentially better with digital cameras. 

With digital music, you can still share it really easily with friends. Can you share kindle books? 

I can tell you the physical difference between holding something epic like Ulysses or War and Peace and something like A Christmas Carol (which I love, but I'm just trying to explain the difference in size, so...). Reaching that last page can really feel like an accomplishment. What would I do with a kindle? Set it back on the shelf where I got it? Upload another book? Also, what about crack screens? Or reading a kindle near the beach? If water splashes on a book, the page gets all warped, but does an electronic even survive?

And what about first editions, that have been loved and cherished and used as investments over a long period of time? Is there a "first edition" e-book? I mean, I can see reading a kindle for newspapers, since they use so much paper and they are relatively obsolete the next day. And even for magazines, for the same reason. But books? Come on, people.

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