July 27, 2009

Can the Kindle Really Improve on the Book?

Thinking about buying a Kindle 2? Nicholson Baker from the New Yorker bought one, but then again, how could he not?
"Everybody was saying that the new Kindle was terribly important—that it was an alpenhorn blast of post-Gutenbergian revalorization. In the Wall Street Journal, the cultural critic Steven Johnson wrote that he’d been alone one day in a restaurant in Austin, Texas, when he was seized by the urge to read a novel. Within minutes, thanks to Kindle’s free 3G hookup with Sprint wireless — they call it Whispernet — he was well into Chapter 1 of Zadie Smith’s On Beauty ($9.99 for the e-book, $10.20 for the paperback). Writing and publishing, he believed, would never be the same."

Baker gives a thorough review (seven pages online) of his Kindle 2, elaborating on his personal experience, as well as citing celebrities and "ordinary people" alike. With convincing arguments both for and against digital media, I do wonder if the Kindle or other similar devices will ever become mainstream and functional enough to truly replace ink on paper.

[via The New Yorker]

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