Conversation Agent - Valeria Maltoni - Dead or Alive, Amazon (re)Kindle(s) Book Reading


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Interestingly enough, that's what my great grandmother said about steam cars when she was young. She was born in 1889.

And yes, ideas overlap. But I am with you on your assessment of why this device is not a good alternative for now -- then again, they did manage to sell the same water you get for free on tap ;-)

I suspect future generations of readers -- assuming there are any -- will be less sentimental about the sensuality of paper and binding than we are.

This conversation suggests what it must have been like when stinky, unreliable cars began replacing horses. Where is the tack -- the dignity of horse-drawn transportation? Has no one any respect for brass and leather and fine horseflesh?

Books never completely replaced oral tradition or handwriting, and I doubt "real" books will ever fully disappear. But ideas never stay locked in one media. The next Gutenburg will be along shortly, thank you.

I hope it's not this particular device, though. I've no problem with the idea of a wired reader. Smartphone screens are probably too small to be used as books, and laptops are still too big and expensive.

But I *refuse* to invest in a locked system like Kindle. First, it's tied to a single vendor. If Amazon goes away or just gets tired of its offering, your "electronic bookshelf" is padlocked. It will go away as soon as the device fails.

Second, books have always been shared. It's assumed. Not only is Kindle's content locked in iPod-like DRM, it can't be moved off the device. It gets worse: I believe Kindle's Terms of Service explicitly forbids sharing your purchased, downloaded texts in any way. You own nothing.

There's more. The screen is small and ugly, and nobody wants to manage yet another email address. Why won't this device browse the web? Does Amazon really think I'll pay two bucks to subscribe a website we already get for free?

I think a widely adoptable ebook would be based on open formats. You'd be able to move texts between your reader and desktop, and some reasonable provision would be made for non-commercial, small-scale sharing -- as we now do with real books.

Of course, I could be wrong. Maybe people will ante up $400 to lock themselves into a data jail.

Try harder, Amazon.

@Tully -- I use a number 2 pencil, I'm gentle with books. All the same, I need to use them, make my mark. What Bezos seems to suggest with this new product is that we co-author on the get go. I'm not sure how I feel about that. I do like to react and interact with what someone else has written, but not all reactions and learning need to be done in public. Are books the last private haven?

@Rich -- I used to love walking into bookstores and "cartolerie" those places where they still sell school supplies. I'm talking the corner retail store, not the big mega center. The scent of paper and all those colored covers -- so many stories. I don't look at my RSS reader the same way ;-)

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