Friday, May 22, 2009

Not the Usual Kindle Discussion

"Once a new technology rolls over you, if you’re not part of the steamroller, you’re part of the road.” – Stewart Brand

We’ve all heard the arguments about what the Kindle and other electronic book readers will do to the publishing industry. However, have you ever thought about some of the more atypical effects? Joanne Kaufman has in her humorous article, “With Kindle, Can You Tell It’s Proust?” from Here are a few excerpts:

“The publishing world is all caught up in weighty questions about the Kindle and other such devices: Will they help or hurt book sales and authors’ advances? Cannibalize the industry? Galvanize it?”

“Please, they’re overlooking the really important concern: How will the Kindle affect literary snobbism?”

“The practice of judging people by the covers of their books is old and time-honored. And the Kindle, which looks kind of like a giant white calculator, is the technology equivalent of a plain brown wrapper.”

“But for the purpose of sizing up a stranger from afar, perhaps the biggest problem with Kindle or its kin is the camouflage factor: when no one can tell what you’re reading, how can you make it clear that you’re poring over the new Lincoln biography as opposed to, say, “He’s Just Not That Into You”?”

“And as books migrate from paper, it means the death of the pickup line, “Oh, I see you’re reading the latest (insert highbrow author’s name here).”

Read the entire article here.

I’ve always enjoyed attempting to see what books people were reading or carrying. I will miss this ability to snoop as the electronic readers continue to gain in popularity. To date, I have no desire to own one, but I think I said the same thing about a cell phone.

How do you feel about electronic book readers? Do you own one? Have you ever used a book as a way to start a conversation with a stranger?

I'm going off topic here but I wanted to share what I consider exciting news. Because part of The Ride takes place on Route 66, it caught the attention of Route 66 News and was featured on the site on May 20.

Thanks for stopping by.

Tags: Stewart Brand, Kindle, electronic book readers, Joanne Kaufman,,The Ride, Route 66,


Anonymous said...

I too have a sort of nostalgic melancholy sense of loss at what the ebook phenomenon is bringing about in the world of literature. I don't own a Kindle, doubt I ever will - unless I outlive the existence of print books altogether. But I do offer all my published books in ebook and Kindle format - ya can't buck the tide when it gets THIS strong.

The Old Silly from Free Spirit Blog

Alexis Grant said...

This is such a good point -- How will we judge books if not by their covers? Forces us readers to really look beyond a cover design!

I'd be interested to know just how many people use a Kindle, other than those who work in the publishing industry. How many readers use Kindles? I still like a good old-fashioned book.

Pyzahn said...

As a luddite who is easing my way into the world of technology, I love the quote from Stewart Brand.

Thanks for visiting Prattle.

Karen Walker said...

I don't own one;I don't want one; hope I never have to buy one. But as a writer, I guess I have to consider making my memoir into an e-book. Grrrr.

Karen Walker

Galen Kindley said...

Hmmm. Well, (here I go again) I kinda think Kindles are Kool. They almost named it after me, too.

Yeah, I'm gonna get one for sure, physical books are wonderful, no doubt. But, reading is reading. Once I get into the story, the media is not relevant. To complete the heresy, I'm an audio book lover, too.

Best Regards, Galen

Morgan Mandel said...

True - people can't see what you're reading, so in a way it hurts an author's promotion. On the other hand, people are fascinated by kindles and might ask what you're reading so they can look at it.

Morgan Mandel

Helen Ginger said...

Congrats on being featured on Route 66 News!

I don't own a Kindle, but I'm beginning to get the urge for one. I don't remember ever starting up a dialogue based on what someone was reading, but I do try to look and see who they're reading. If it's a friend, I email them and let them know I saw someone at the airport, etc. reading their book. That is sort of a drawback of the Kindle!

Straight From Hel

Liyana said...

Congrats! You have something here.

John said...

I know this is a late post to this thread, but I had to weigh in. I own the Sony version of the Kindle, called the Sony Reader. And I love it.

I've never cared for trends or what is popular or how people think of me for what I'm reading. I'm just as happy reading "The Island of the Sequined Love Nun" as I am "The Divine Comedy."

Pros: The books are less expensive. The Sony comes with free classics. How many? As many as Google Books has. That's a HUGE pro. It's lightweight, and as I usually read three books at once, I don't have to carry them around. Plus, the Kindle allows readers to get a sneak peak at books without buying. I really love that (I credit it with helping me sell copies on the Kindle). Plus, there are the secondary arguments like that it's better for the enviornment (less paper used - an argument I don't really buy) and that you can get newspapers on them. In fact, I know of quite a few newsprint and magazine owners that are placing quite a bit of hope on Kindle-like devices to save the industry (thanks to less expensive distribution).

Cons: The device itself is expensive (but then again, if you buy a lot of books, it works out in your favor).

Remember, these are the pros and cons as I see it. There are those who feel that paper books are irreplaceable. Theirs is a valid viewpoint, and I don't disagree.

However, I think with the tremendous growth of the internet and websites like and, a new way of recommending books has emerged.

Plus, my Sony Reader (at least while the market saturation for ereaders is low) has proven a much bigger conversation point that whatever books I had been reading.

Now, that's not to say that I don't still buy books. I do. But if I decide to wait for the paperback version of something, then I'll go ahead and get the eBook version instead of the paperback.

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

John, you offered some valid pros and cons, thanks. I've recently read that a company called Plastic Logic is going to be coming out with their version of an e-reader made of plastic so it weighs ounces instead of pounds and can also be read in bright sunlight. Sounds interesting. Hmmm. I've learned never to say never.

Jane's Ride - Novelist Jane Kennedy Sutton's journey through the ups and downs of the writing, publishing and marketing world