Did Reading Just Evolve Further?

Reading & Writing


Probably not,according to Nicholson Baker in the New Yorker. ‘Here’s what you buy when you buy a Kindle book,’ he says. ‘You buy the right to display a grouping of words in front of your eyes for your private use with the aid of an electronic display device approved by Amazon.’ The edited version of his article appears here. Interestingly, he comes down in favour of reading on an iPhone, although he has some very persuasive arguments for staying with actual books.

7 comments on “Did Reading Just Evolve Further?”

  1. Helen Martin says:

    There are no arguments for anything other than an ‘actual’ book.

  2. Steve says:

    I LOVE actual books. I have ALWAYS loved actual books. I have been a voracious reader of actual books for half a century.
    I ALSO love my Kindle DX.
    At a different turn of a different century, I suppose I would have kept my horse and buggy and loved my motor car.

  3. Steve says:

    Also, my kindle will talk to me. Admittedly it’s a bit robotic, but an actual book won’t read me bedtime stories. Now my wife has some visual problems these days and it’s difficult for her to read (she also is a voracious reader). So she can lie in bed at night and HEAR her books. If she falls asleep, her kindle shuts itself off after a time. Actual books don’t do that.

    And my horse and buggy don’t have air conditioning.

  4. Steve says:


  5. I.A.M. says:

    There are a damned good number of arguments for things other than a ‘real book’. Sadly, the Kindle and the Sony Reader are excellent arguments against themselves.

    Why would one pay £200 for something which essentially only does one thing: show you words. Paper already does that quite well!

    The iPhone, however does that via the Stanzas or Shortcovers software, plus it’s a camera, a web browser, handles e-mail, acts as a day-timer, you can play games on it, show off photos, play video, listen to songs, and it’s also a phone. So… why not add “read books” to that list and skip carrying 5lbs of James Mitchener?

    Those who reject the e-book out of hand either are rejecting the e-reader (can’t say I blame them, really), or are fetishizing the paper-based book (ibid). For the second group, ask yourself this: are you reading a story, or enjoying owing an object that happens to have words printed in it?

  6. Steve says:

    The Kindle DX (probably not available in the UK)plays MP3’s, and carries the equivalent of an entire library. That’s a bit more than just showing you words. Anyway, it isn’t ideal as an e-reader, but it’s still fairly new. I’m sure it will be improved over time.

  7. I.A.M. says:

    Steve: one would hope the latest Kindle were available in the UK, as they’ve just made any model available there, so not putting the largest, thinnest, arguably best model on the market would be an odd decision to go with. It’s at least twice the screen size of the Sony Reader from Waterstones.

    You’re right, too about the Kindle being able to play MP3s, forgot that, but no matter what the page capacity of the device, it really only shows words. Saving room in one’s home for bookshelves isn’t going to make anyone switch (although the opportunity to get more books without having to buy a bigger house might be enough for the wife and I, frankly).

    The real hope, as you say, is in the surety of things being improved over time.

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