Friday, February 20, 2009

Down With The Kindle!

I know all the arguments: it saves trees, it allows out of print authors (including me) to be actually read by peope, it permits errors to be fixed after publication, you can carry a thousand books around in one device, it's even a boon for the blind...And yet I hate the Kindle, I hate the look of it, I hate the name of it, I hate even the idea of it. Kindle reduces books to their raw text and books for me are so much more than the words in their pages. Books have a tactile quality, an innate puissance, a beauty all their own. Some books, especially older ones, have a smell, a history, an aura. Most of my books are second hand and they are idiosyncratically filled with marginal notes, dog ears, phone numbers or just years (sometimes decades) of blood, sweat and tears. I love books as objects not just as carriers of a message or a meme. I love the different covers that books can have in different editions. (Here's an entire blog about the various covers JG Ballard's Crash has had over the years, covers that Kindle will never fully convey.) The Kindle 2 has been getting great reviews but I have a feeling that as it becomes standard it will be just another excuse for publishers to make books cheaper and nastier or not publish them in a paper form at all. Mark my words if we let this happen 10 years from now bookstores (if they still exist) will have a self help section, a Stephen King section and a coffee shop.
Sunday morning update: depressing news on this (though not to him) from Andrew Sullivan