newsweek covers the future of reading

6032-newsweekkindle.jpg Steven Levy’s Newsweek cover story, “The Future of Reading,” is pegged to the much anticipated release of the Kindle, Amazon’s new e-book reader. While covering a lot of ground, from publishing industry anxieties, to mass digitization, Google, and speculations on longer-term changes to the nature of reading and writing (including a few remarks from us), the bulk of the article is spent pondering the implications of this latest entrant to the charred battlefield of ill-conceived gadgetry which has tried and failed for more than a decade to beat the paper book at its own game. The Kindle has a few very significant new things going for it, mainly an Internet connection and integration with the world’s largest online bookseller, and Jeff Bezos is betting that it might finally strike the balance required to attract larger numbers of readers: doing a respectable job of recreating the print experience while opening up a wide range of digital affordances.
Speaking of that elusive balance, the bit of the article that most stood out for me was this decidely ambivalent passage on losing the “boundedness” of books:

Though the Kindle is at heart a reading machine made by a bookseller – ?and works most impressively when you are buying a book or reading it – ?it is also something more: a perpetually connected Internet device. A few twitches of the fingers and that zoned-in connection between your mind and an author’s machinations can be interrupted – ?or enhanced – ?by an avalanche of data. Therein lies the disruptive nature of the Amazon Kindle. It’s the first “always-on” book.

4 thoughts on “newsweek covers the future of reading

  1. Gary Frost

    Certainly these devices and their connectivities will break out, but not as simulations of print. Their role will be more like portable avatars of the person accessing the actual world. And as such I suspect that they will be quite tangential to dissolve of biblographic entities.

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  2. Gary Frost

    Come to think of it, simmulation of print may be very factor that is restraining the wider interest in these devices. The needed concept is a not-book e-reader.

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  3. C. Ramchandani

    This is my impression of the Kindle product after having lived with it for a little over a week.
    I use the word “lived” as opposed to “used” because Kindle has I think, become a part of me. Let me explain.
    I love having hard copies of the books I read and have in my bookshelves and garage perhaps a thousand books stored. I like setting here at my desk and looking at the latest books I have read stacked up on a bookcase. I thought this would always be so.
    However, I now realize it’s the words in the books that count and not the tactile feel of the physical book. When I look at the list of books on my Kindle home page I don’t feel deprived of ownership.
    Having several books and a news paper tucked inside my jacket that I can access at any time and anywhere is a great comfort to me. There is a possibility I might not add any more hard copies to my book collection. I might even part with some that I have except
    my signed copy of Robert Forsts’ Aforesaid….. and a few others.
    I have used all the functions incorporated in Kindle 2 and have no ideas for improvement in that regard. I do have one suggestion.
    During times of low humidity and dry hands I fined the case a bit slippery. I nearly dropped it once or twice and it will pivot in my grasp when holding the case with two or three fingers. I had the same problem with my original Verizon/Motorola flip phone.
    The new Motorola flip phone is coated with a rubber like substance on the back side. This makes holding on to it and dialing a number much easier to do with one hand.
    My suggestion is that you do the same to the back side of Kindle.
    Thank you for this wonderful device….

    Reply
  4. Daniel Leventhal

    My wife turned 32 today – being the avid reader that she is I thought the Kindle would be the perfect gift. Boy was I right! To compliment the Kindle I got her the pebbled Fuschia cover – a perfect match! When she opened the package she wasn’t sure what the Kindle was or what it was all about. I knew she had an Amazon account so when she turned it on it immediately offers the tutoral or registration. She chose to register the Kindle – it took 30 seconds – so easy – so fast. A lifetime 3G subscription paid for by Amazon – no monthly fees and access to over 300,000 books and counting….a readers dream come true. All this and it’s packed into a light weight just the right size reader. Easy on the eyes, font size can be changed and the book will even read to you if you want it too! What she liked at first was you can sample books – she had been looking to purchase a book and looked it up. She was able to download the sample which is usually the first few pages of the book and read it. If you want to purchase from there it’s a click away. The power cable is pretty neat I have to say. Plug one end into the Kindle and plug the other either into a standard wall outlet or your computer. Both will charge the Kindle and when connected to the computer you can transfer information to the Kindle like PDF files or other content. There is an amber LED which turns green when charging is complete. No idea what battery life is like because I just gave it to her. Being a tech geek I was impressed – I am not much of a reader though I really should read more. However, my wife was so happy and amazed at the gift which was so cool and creative. Get it for your girl guys – if she likes to read she will love it. Doesn’t have to be books only – magazines, newspapers, blogs, etc are ALL here! The subscription prices and book prices are really good from what my wife tells me. I have read in other reviews the negatives – I guess if you owned a Kindle 1 it is hard to transfer content to this new one – this doesn’t apply to my wife. Most of the negatives just didn’t apply to us because they are negatives from previous Kindle owners. She can store up to 1500 books on this baby and Amazon stores copies for you on their server – you can’t go wrong here. I’m really impressed and happy with my purchase.

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