Monday, November 19, 2007

Covet House

I love books. And I have a weakness for gadgets and gizmos. So, naturally, things like the Sony Reader interest me a great deal. Today, Amazon unveiled their e-book reader, the Kindle. It looks like it might meet their goal of being "an iPod for books." I do like the name, though; it recalls the quote at the bottom of the page from Plutarch. "The mind is not a vessel to be filled but a fire to be kindled."

These products are problematic for me. I love to read, and these things are just so cool. However, I'm also a confessed bibliophile. A lot of people who call themselves "book-lovers" are actually what I would call "readers." They love books for the ideas they contain. I think of myself as a reader, but also as a true bibliophile. The books themselves, the substance of them, is important to me. There are great books, like say Coming into the Country, which would be just as good on these devices as the are in paperback. But I don't see how House of Leaves would be quite the same. A fine hardcover edition of your favorite book can be a prized possession, in a way a Reader or a Kindle never could be.

So my reaction to these devices, and the prospect of their widespread adoption, leaves me somewhat ambivalent. I am sure I will eventually get something like Kindle someday, but I doubt I will ever stop buying books.

1 comment:

Matt Boulanger said...

That was my first ever McPhee book, way back in eighth grade, and I think the only one I ever read in dog-eared hardcover.

I have similar feelings about music- my music collection (digital) has become something to be Managed. I've started at least queuing up whole albums at once in track order and found that it at least begins to approximate putting in a CD. Traipse around the net and you'll find similar discussions about the demise of the mix tape- the only way I ever knew of to get and hold the recipient's attention for 90 minutes- (always on those nice Maxell tapes with the smoky plastic cases) -even if you weren't there. When I get more space someday, I'm bringing the turntable and the vinyl back out, I think.

Anyway, I'm not quite ready for the "iPod of books," either.