Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Hark, The Kindle Choir!

Monday's Age contains an article by Helen Elliott, "Kindle: A World of Literature in your Hand" (here), in which she spruiks Amazon's Kindle. As Staul62 of Melbourne comments:

Another day, another glowing Kindle 'review'. How big is the cheque from Amazon? As Bemused rightly points out, there are many e-readers out there, some produced by Australian companies, some that didn't lock us out for years and even perhaps some that don't have restrictive digital rights management and the right to come in and delete your books at will.

(I'd add that some even have colour screens, or will, according to some iSlate rumours.)

And if I read another I-can-have-a-library-in-my-handbag-what-do-I-need-all-my-old-books-for-anymore article I'll yawn myself to death. As for this, from Ms Elliott:

I don't have sentimentality for my books. Books are about ideas and what was in them is now in my head.

What a lot of tosh. Books may be "about" ideas—they may help communicate ideas—but they are physical objects and can only get in your head if they are launched into it with a canon!

And to understand and appreciate the physicality of books is not mere sentimentality, it is a recognition that "the medium is the message" as Marshall McLuhan said in 1964!

I have a very large library of etexts (because etexts are very useful) and will probably get a reader in the near future (because they are quite convenient), but don't expect to see a pile of "Free Books" outside my office any time soon.

Because, contrary to the claims of Amazon and members of the Kindle-spruiking-choir such as Helen Elliott, an etext is not a substitute for a book any more than an electronic version of a journal is a replacement of a journal (as I have explained before).

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