The Kindle suprise

VICTORIA (CUP) – It started with file sharing, it exploded into blogs, and now one of the oldest mediums in world history has become digitalized: books.

From Aristotle to Stephen King, all will be available to read with the touch of a button.
This new Amazon Kindle – which has been available in the U.S. for months now – is lightweight, thinner than a portable DVD player and, with Christmas just around the corner, can be purchased for under $300.

The newest model, Kindle 2, comes equipped with two gigabytes of memory, enough to hold about 1,500 pieces of literature.

Though I should couch the world “literature,” since the Kindle can hold newspapers, magazines and even your own personal written documents.

But what’s so bad about books, in their usual paper form, anyway? The worry of dropping a book or a newspaper and having to pay $300 to replace it was no concern before.
And no one worried about having their car broken into after leaving their favourite magazine visible on the front seat.

I suppose these are the inevitable problems with any new gadget – and with the proliferation of new forms of technology in general. Yet the upside is that now “books” can be cheaper and easier to carry around (you can exchange all those textbooks in your backpack for something which could fit in your back pocket).

And hey, maybe more people will start reading. Well, let’s not get too carried away. There has been a vast array of literature available online for years now and, even still, when I bring up the names of famous classical and contemporary authors – Richard Rorty, Margaret Atwood, Vladimir Nabokov, Kate Pullinger and Orhan Pamuk among others – I continue to get blank stares from my classmates.

But who knows? This could be the beginning of a new e-literary era. Compared to the iPod, Blackberry and all the other gadgets and gizmos students are shelling out their parents’ (and sometimes their own) well-earned money to buy, this is only mildly materialistic.

The pressure to start actually reading after you’ve thoughtlessly clicked your way into 10 magazine subscriptions and 97 new book purchases might be a good thing.

At the end of the day, I see no apparent slippery slope and I do not see the Kindle as a serious threat to the paper book.

And how will professors take photos of themselves sitting on front of bulging bookshelves when those shelves are barren, holding a single Kindle?

I could be wrong ,though; I never thought the blog would start bankrupting newspaper companies.

The good thing is, while this “threat” is looming, the threat of an end to good writing is not.
Writing is either readable or it is not – no matter the form.