A bag full of books, or kilobytes of Kindle?

A bag full of books, or kilobytes of Kindle?

Summary: My editor-in-chief, Larry Dignan, posted earlier on today his take on the upcoming big screen Kindle, the essential book killer for our time. Whilst I applaud his efforts...


My editor-in-chief, Larry Dignan, posted earlier on today his take on the upcoming big screen Kindle, the essential book killer for our time. Whilst I applaud his efforts... I must disagree with him.

I present to you, in the highest form - banter.

The book has been around for longer than God himself, spreading knowledge and intellectual dialogue to billions of people. What gives a company, such as Amazon, the right to slowly minimise this ancient form of wisdom to be replaced with a clunky, electronic piece of junk which "saves the planet"?

Screw the planet. Here's why.

Students are arrogant, self-obsessed, radicalised and intelligent beings. We proclaim about being students, not directly, but indirectly through means of showing off. This can often be demonstrated with a young person, carrying an organic satchel, boasting badges such as "Save Iraq, stop the war", and "Leave Lindsey A-lohan", and suchlike. The look is carried then, by holding a selection of politically motivated books and novels held in one hand, whilst a rolled-up cigarette is grasped in the other.

The smugness of the stereotypical student is rated at approximately 132% of that of an ordinary "human being", according to the fictional Department of the Bleeding Obvious, which also claims it rains 109% of the time in England.

Now picture the scene, something of which I have seen many a time before.

Student 1: "Oh man, I'm so tired." Student 2: "Why? Have you been contemplating the inner-workings and dialogue expressional features combined with empathic context of Pinter?" Student 1: "Well, duh, of course, yeah, like, but also because of all these books because I'm a student, and all that, like." Student 2: "Yeah, oh man, we're so intellectual and cool."

And... scene. Do you see the problem there? The problem would be, if Student 1 had an Amazon Kindle, he wouldn't look so much like an idiot student, thus reducing the overall smug levels on campus to an unacceptable low.

Amazon, quit while you are ahead. Sure, the Kindle may well reduce the amount of books you have to take on holiday with you, and yes, things might well be cheaper in the long run. But the "image" of the quintessential, smug student is at serious risk. A student without a set of books in their hands, is merely an ordinary member of the public.

In the great, wise words of Harold Pinter, "who are you and why have you broken into my house?". Students need books, de facto.

Topic: CXO

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  • Also from the Department

    Also from the Department, how much do you want to bet the "books" won't be transferable or resalable?

    (Kinda reminds me of the Book of Job--Satan makes a [b][i]bet[/i][/b] with God. It's not real bright to make a bet with someone who knows the future!)

    But I digress ...

    Electronic-only versions will allow publishers to constantly update, so even if DRM does get cracked, the cracked version will be Introduction to Whatever--Fall 2006 and the professor will be requiring at least the Summer 2007 edition.

    And also from the Department ... what about EC and US antitrust laws? Publishers certainly are not going to support ten different electronic versions, one for each company that wants to publish a reader.

    There is also one other thing not mentioned -- humans learn to process information in a certain way and that is the way that person "thinks". I'm a lawyer. I learned to draft documents on a wordprocessor. I have tried drafting on paper and I just can't do it. I know older lawyers who can type at a good rate but they learned to draft with a legal pad. They tell me they can't draft directly to a computer ... "My mind just doesn't work that way." (In that regard see Marshall McLuhan's book [i]The Medium is the Massage[/i].) I spend a good part of every day doing computerized research, but I still often don't notice a particular thing until I see the paper version. Maybe 50-100 years from now people will be used to processing information primary from a single partial-page screen, but most people miss a lot if it's not in hardcopy.
    • "humans learn to process information in a

      certain way and that is the way that person

      I'm an editor and a writer and a teacher. I
      learned how to process information in a notebook
      filled with paper pages. Then I shifted to a
      typewriter because my handwriting was illegible.
      Now I don't write with anything but a word
      processor. That's the way I think now, but if I
      had to do it with a typewriter or a pen and
      legal pad, I could do that too.

      Some of us are flexible.
  • RE: A bag full of books, or kilobytes of Kindle?

    In The Archimedes Codex, the Netz and Noel chronicle how, upon the invention of the codex (or book) form, the scroll was simply abandoned. Not just for the production of written works, but for consumption, as well: people simply abandoned hundreds of years of collected writings that were stored on scrolls. It is not impossible that, eventually, digitally-stored works will completely replace printed works, not just as a medium for storage of new information but as the chosen format for consumption of old. If this happens, even if Google's and the Internet Archive's book projects are successful, an enormous amount of our collected knowledge will simply disappear, just as it did in the transition from the scroll. A rapid transition from one format to another did happen at the time of the last format change, and could potentially happen again.
    • Load of garbage...

      They didn't simply discard the content -- they copied it into new formats, as we still do today. The very fact that previously published books now appear on Kindle, instead of only new publications already kills your point as unfounded and DEAD IN WATER.

      With that said, I strongly favor books over electronic readers such as the Kindle. No batteries needed, won't malfunction, etc. Take anywhere, read anytime.
  • The additional effort of theft prevention is a pain

    Having had lots of stuff stolen at college, I would be a paranoid wreck if I relied on a Kindle. No one stole my books, only objects with immediate resale value. Even a Pentel mechanical pencil would disappear in a minute if left unatteneded.
  • RE: A bag full of books, or kilobytes of Kindle?

    just as no sane person (e.g. outside of academia) pays what textbooks cost every semester, so also most people will not pay what a kindle2XL will cost - so the smugness of being identifiably a student will continue - albeit by the carrying of a kindle in lieu of a stack of books
  • Zack, Zack, Zack...

    In this case, you are truly odd with a very strange perspective..... Students and young persons alike will always find ways to express their causes, individuality and "cool factor" regardless of whether books are voluminous or slim and electronic. I'll bet that students are more lazy (sorry, students) and would gladly give up their sticker touting books for a light weight reader. Besides there is better mark-up on covers, skins, etc for electronic devices than good old fashioned stickers. : )
  • RE: A bag full of books, or kilobytes of Kindle?

    Can these students open up 3 different books at a time on their Kindle, look at them simultaneously in full screen view (2 full-size pages while we're at it) and reference something from all of them? Well, they could always buy 3 Kindles... that would make them unimaginably cool...