Well it would clear up some living room space ...

Stephen King with his Kindle

A friend of mine was over last night and, noticing the rather cluttered condition of my overflowing bookshelves, asked, "So do you just live by the principle that you're going to have twenty percent more books than you have room for?"

Well ... maybe soon that will never be a problem for humanity again! We'll all have the Kindle!

Backpacks full of cumbersome textbooks that add up to half the body weight of a seventh grader? Gone!

Shelves full of titles waiting to be read sometime in the next decade? Gone!

Libraries? Bookstores? Acid-free paper? First Editions? 

Gone! Gone! Gone!! Gone!!!

Think it won't catch on? Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos says sales of the Kindle have "exceeded our most optimistic expectations."

The Wall Street Journal ran a piece this week called, "How the E-Book Will Change the Way We Read and Write." Take a look at it.

This, too, is a sign of the approaching Singularity.

What do you think? Good? Bad? Neutral? Frightening? Exciting? Take the poll in the right hand column.

There is great promise and opportunity in the digital-books revolution. The question is: Will we recognize the book itself when that revolution has run its course? - Steven Johnson, WSJ


Ben said...

just so you know, I voted on both of your blogs with the same response.

JPB said...

But what response??????

JPB said...

Sorry. I see you gave your fuller reply over there ... and a very good one.

J.J. said...


The Six of Us said...

Not really sick, not really nervous, NOT excited about it...more of a "well, I sure hope I don't ever find myself wanting one."

Or maybe it makes me feel like moving out of the country.

Janine the Bean said...

Blech. For me it's a bit sick. One of my running partners has one and we had an interesting conversation about it.

Ben said...

I don't see the appeal/merit in moving to Montana.

J.J. : Why do you want to move out there?

I think automatically accepting a new technology is a good reflex to subdue, but the opposite reflex is just as much of a problem.

I voted for "nervous about the whole thing" because I see society equating "new technology" with "advancement of humanity" without giving it any thought. But, I would still vote "nervous about the whole thing" if everyone resisted any new invention and started farming.

JPB said...

Though both ends of the poll were intended to be extreme ... there is merit in Montana (or Northeastern Kentucky.

J.J. said...

Ben - My answer of "Montana" was less than completely serious, but in the general direction of how I feel about it. My more serious answer is that I'm nervous about it with leanings toward Montana/NE Kentucky. I agree with your comment about our reflexes either for or against technology. Of course much much more could be and has been said...Jon - how does July sound?

Jeff said...

It would make reading in bed while your spouse sleeps easier. But it would have to reproduce the same feel on my eyes, that softness of letters on paper feel. Otherwise fogetaboutit.

Blog Snob said...

Jon, I will take a different side than the rest. Maybe that is due to the fact that I am buying school text books, but the Kindle seems to be a great idea. I would be able to have more than one text book with me at a time without breaking my back pack or back. Hopefully they would be far cheaper since there is no printing, shipping, or necessary sales clerks.
There are also many other benefits: new editions could be easily added, the book could be searchable, hopefully there would be an option for notes in the margins, and more availability of out of print books (antique) plus many more. So I am in favor of these devices though apparently my wife is not.
With this all said I don't want to see regular old books disappear though.


Ben said...

THAT's what I don't get. After listing all the advantages of the Kindle, why wouldn't you want paper books to go away.

I am leaning increasingly towards nostalgia being the sole reason, in which case I say, "Gimme the Kindle."

JPB said...

Kindle is not sensual.

Blog Snob said...

There is something that is intangibly cold about electronics, even machines. This may not be a "good" reason for wanting books but it is a reason.
Also there will always be more freedom with a printed book. You are limited in your use of a kindle by the available software/hardware.

Also, until they make an holographic option the books you own for a kindle just won't look that good on a bookcase.

With all of that said I would like one if it had a few more of the options that I mentioned in my previous comment.


JPB said...

I completely understand the textbook thing, Blog Snob.

Besides, textbooks aren't books.

Crime and Punishment is a book.

Paradise Lost is a book.

The Summa Theologica is a book.

Textbooks are never books. As much as I like them, Steven King books are not books -- except perhaps The Stand. The Bottom Billion or Blink are not really books.

Aha!!!! I've discovered it!!!!

Any so-called "book" that is really a consumable item I could read on Kindle with no problem. Kindle is a consumer device and it should be for consumable works of fiction or non fiction!

Jen said...

You DO have it, Jon. That is exactly the difference. I'd love to have "light" reading on a Kindle. But, there are certain friends on my bookshelf that MUST remain there. I wouldn't ever want to put Hannah Coulter in a kindle.

That might be a fun exercise. Which of our books would be fine on a kindle and which would it not?

The Six of Us said...

Probably the ones you wouldn't mind using as kindling if you really needed a good fire.

Janine the Bean said...

Okay. I might slightly change my response now.

So, as for my "sick" response, it would be in response to the thought of my books that are my "good friends" being reduced to a small space on a gadget. As you said Jen, you can't put Hannah Coulter on the Kindle. I could list lots of others.

But when I thought about it, as Josh said, I would consider putting hefty textbooks on a Kindle. And if it saved me money I might have done it back in college. I mean, you're just going to sell it back to the bookstore for WAY less than you paid for it anyways. I remember my Anatomy and Physiology textbook weighing me down and carrying around three hefty science or math books in your backpack can be a pain (quite literally).

However, once I changed my major to English, most of my textbooks were novels (some of which I would have put on a Kindle if I had one).

Hmmm...I wonder how long it will be until colleges will require students to have a Kindle and when those with textbooks will be "old school." Could happen.

Maybe you should start a new post about what you would NOT put on your Kindle. Could be fun.

Josh said...

I've had several mind-opening experiences regarding books, partly by subscribing to Andy Mangold's blog. This guy is really into something called "book arts" and makes some pretty sweet stuff.
What that has done for me is, generally, lower my opinion of the way many of my favorite books are published. One exception that leaps to mind is the red leather edition of The Lord of the Rings. Most other books are churned out with poor bindings, unrelated or uninspired cover art, bad paper and worse text design and font choices. Kindle is a terribly convenient answer to the problem of owning large amounts of mass-produced, bloodless volumes of beautiful literature. What losses there are may be recovered by the demand from enthusiasts for a presentation of literature that lives up to the personality of its content.
Publisher's: see: Timothy McSweeney's Quarterly Concern for inspiration.

Blog Snob said...

Josh makes a good point. If we are going to keep books for sentimentality then they had better be good books (the physical book). in this way we are making the frame (atmosphere)the important part of art.
To me there isn't anything wrong with sentimentality for art but lets not make that the value. The value of the book is the "mind" of the book. This is transferable across different mediums.


The Six of Us said...

Problems that haven't yet been mentioned:

external power source (besides light) needed to read? Ugh.

And what about our kids interaction with our bookshelves. I doubt they will be allowed to peruse the titles on our expensive kindle.

JPB said...

Yes, I don't think it's just about the "sentimentality" for the book.

There is a real value in walking somewhere rather than driving. There is a qualitatively different experience that effects the very nature of the origin and destination.

Similarly with Kindle versus books.

It is not true that content is all. That's a very enlightenment kind of notion. If you could get all your nutrition in a pill, would you? Why hang on to the sentimentality of taste and leisurely meals? We would be eating wouldn't we?

The Six of Us said...

I definitely fall into a "middle position" on this one.

I don't think that the kindle is the biggest threat on great works of literature to ever come along.

Books on tape seem to be a far bigger blow, and I can see that mode as fitting more in line with the "walk vs. drive" analogy. (and yet...books on tape have their place)

Really, it's just one step for Amazon. Where books are concerned, I would rather avoid Amazon altogether and search bookshelves in used bookstores for whatever I am looking for.

And one more disjointed thought: I don't see anything wrong with sentimentality. It can run pretty deep into the heart and emotion and experience of a person. Maybe I need to check up on my understanding of the word. :)