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NOTHING BEATS BROWSING

August 24, 2009 | 2 Comments

Post to the Host:

I am an avid reader and now an avid convert to the Amazon Kindle platform.
Though I have some discomfort about what electronic readers are likely to do to the book/bookstore industry, it does rather seem the wave of the future.
(I notice you currently have 8 offerings for the Kindle.) What's your take on electronic readers in general?

Rev. Kevin P.

--

I'm all for readers reading whatever they want wherever they want to read it, and if some people would like to see text projected onto the sides of large buildings late at night, or written in the sky by planes, or transmitted to their cellphones, or attached to the sides of trees, that's fine by me. For now, I seem to be still enamored of the paper book with the covers and the spine, but I'm a restless man and who knows? I could pick up a Kindle next week and be converted in a moment. But then I'd have to tell the employees of my bookstore that they're the wave of the past. And whenever I go in the store, I see people wandering around and picking up books and examining them and browsing. Browsing is the thing you need to do in person, and I don't think Kindle is so good at that. Our bookstore represents the taste and judgment of its managers but there are other influences, best-seller lists, reviews, word of mouth, etc. And then the visitor gets to browse, which is a peripatetic search for serendipity, which is how readers come to find books they would never ever otherwise find.
That's the wonderful thing about reading, the venturesome part. The reader is restless, always looking for something new and exciting. This exciting new invention is fine for reading stuff you already know about, but nothing beats browsing.


2 Comments


I too am slightly intrigued by the Kindle's abilities, however I can't imagine ever curling up with one. A book has a personality by itself; paperback or hardback. Does the Kindle include the artwork? I don't know never having direct access to one. I love reading an exciting passage and anticipating the actual turning of the page. Kindles may have a built in dictionary but I'll go for a real book anytime.


You should be warned that the Kindle includes some interesting and undocumented features. The most prominent is the 1984 ``memory hole'' feature, where Amazon can cause your purchased copies of e-books to go away, as though they never existed.

Amazon recently demonstrated this feature with, of all things, Orwell's _1984_.

Stick with real books. The bookstore cannot come by your house in the evening, sneak in, and reclaim them. At least if they do so, you'll have the broken glass of the window where they entered.

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