The Irony of Kindle | Are Books History?


BY JIM KARPEN

I have a love/hate relationship with books. I deeply enjoy the marvelous worlds opened to me by my favorite nonfiction books— topics such as human prehistory, evolutionary psychology, emergent phenomena, chaos, and synchrony. There’s nothing quite like settling in for a couple hours and getting lost in thought.

But I hate books too. They tend to accumulate, become a burden, gather dust. My domicile is small, and 90 percent of my books are in plastic Wal-Mart storage bins in an outdoor shed. Such a waste. When I think of a particular book I want, it’s practically inaccessible.

Enter Amazon’s Kindle. I wish I’d had one these 30 years ago. Indeed, I wish I had one now. Santa, are you listening? It would sate my love of books while obviating the storage problem—and many other limitations of the medium.

The Kindle is an electronic book reader. And when Amazon first announced it, critics panned the very notion. Early reviewers dissed it. Every article I read was negative.

And then what happened? Consumers loved it. Counter to all predictions, the Kindle was hot. Amazon couldn’t keep them in stock and for months had a notice on their home page apologizing for the shortage.

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