Amazon’s Kindle – Luddite technology?

You’d have had to be hidden under a very large interweb-proof rock to have missed the fact that Amazon have launched the Kindle, their long-anticipated wireless e-book reader device, this week.

While we at Futurismic Towers are still awaiting our evaluation devices (which the Amazon people seem to have inexplicably forgotten to mail to us), we cannot pass judgement on the reading experience the Kindle offers – though we’d agree with the consensus that it’s not the prettiest machine ever. [Image from Engadget article]

Amazon's Kindle e-book reader

So, in the meantime, we’ll refer you to the inimitable Nick Carr, one of the most reliable contrarians of the modern age, who points out that Jeff Bezos’s vision for the Kindle is possibly the best one for the future of books as a platform:

“… Kelly and his fellow-travelers are wrong, and Bezos is right. The only thing that will keep books great is respect for the individual author, the individual reader, and the sanctity of the book as a closed container. When that respect goes, the book goes with it.”

What do Futurismic readers think? Will e-book ubiquity save the novel, or destroy it?

[tags]Kindle, e-book, technology, fiction[/tags]

8 thoughts on “Amazon’s Kindle – Luddite technology?”

  1. Both Amazon and Carr have it wrong. Carr seems to belong to the cult of the book — and a potent cult it is.

    The simple answer to both is this: to replace a perfectly working technology, you need to do more than it does now. Kindle doesn’t do this on enough fronts to be viable.

    Like everybody else before them (Sony, Nuvomedia, etc.), Amazon is trying to lock the consumer into one format, on a dedicated device.

    This is wrong-headed.

    The ideal ebook will be transferable between devices, will enable us to share things like bookmarks and annotations, will work succinctly with existing technologies like social networking tools, etc. It’ll also be significantly cheaper than a paper book.

    We don’t need a dedicated device for ebooks. Instead, we need an ebook format that has longevity, so I don’t have to worry about buying my library when Company X either goes under or gives up on ebooks because they’re locked into the typical headspace about it.

    Ebooks aren’t about gadgets. They’re about content. They’re about doing everything you can do with a book, and more.

  2. Eh? The Kindle is a device to present a story to a reader, as is a paperback book. Carr is confusing the medium (so to speak) with the message.

  3. Looks like my post yesterday about the book industry having the benefit of hindsight to avoid the pitfalls the music and movie industry caused was a tad overoptimistic about the thinking of said industry.

  4. Looks like Kindle is at least a small step in the right direction. You can indeed read a book in the bathroom.

    But you still need batteries. And a wireless connection.

    For Ben’s bookmarks and annotations, I prefer little yellow stickies, and maybe even the kind of bookmarks you get at libraries. Some have even been known to write in the margins.

    Time, however, and the market will tell the final story.

  5. Ebooks are the future of books, for sure, and a book reader is a really good idea, but the idea of carrying around *another* device is a bit crazy, especially one that will have to be large enough for me to read comfortably. If I do get one, the price point will have to be really low for me to justify the purchase.

  6. Ebooks will take over at the same rate the current generation takes to die. Old people will stick to books, even to the point they’ll have to carry around 20 kilo’s in books. The new generation will pick up, ditch books, destroy the whole IP issue, books will move into a new paradigm, dead wood copies will become more expensive and (depending on how succesful aubrey is) books as we know it will become a small fringe phenomenon somewhere after 2020-2040.

    A book will be similar in sentiment to a piece of jewelry after 2040. You don’t buy magazines, books, newspapers after 2030, in the same way mustache wax or top hats or horse manure shovels went out of business.

  7. Sanctity and respect? What I should bow down and sacrifice chickens to Bram Stoker’s Dracula or something?

    Sounds like a cultist, to me. 🙂

  8. I like my new retinal implants that let me read anything I want wherever I am without even opening my eyes.

    Kindle is okay for a “between levels” device.

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