The thing the critics really hate, though, and the one thing that dwarfs all of the other objections to the Kindle, is that it isn’t a book. It doesn’t feel like a book, it doesn’t smell like a book, and most of all, it doesn’t lend any character to the specific book you are reading right now. I hadn’t really thought about this before using the Kindle, but it immediately struck me how much of the character and tone of a book I get from the body of a book itself—the weight, the cover, the binding, the quality of the paper, the font choices, the density of words on the page—all of these have a distinct impact on how I think about and remember a book.
I have an old paperback copy of Asimov’s Foundation trilogy, one that I read innumerable times growing up. It’s not so much a paperback anymore, since both the front and back covers were mostly lost at some point during my adolescence. I loved the book so much, though, and wanted to be able to take it with me without damaging the thin, brittle pages, that I made my own cover and binding for the book out of cardboard and packing tape. It’s quite a feat of teenage engineering, I think, and has held up masterfully for twenty years. Now that is a book. A real object that acts as a physical referent, a nexus for my intangible memories about the trilogy. I’ve read the other books in the Foundation universe, and none have carried the weight that those first three did—I now wonder how much of that is because of my physical connection with the book as an object.
Every book on the Kindle feels exactly the same. There is no physical object, and the visual components of the book that do carry through the device—the font choice, mostly—are determined not by publisher or author, but are fixed by the device itself. Maybe the attachment to the physical object is mere nostalgia, an artifact of history; maybe the Kindle will let the writing itself, the author’s story, imprint more directly in my memory, unbounded by the ephemera of its physical packaging. I don’t know yet, but I will tell you this: you can have my Kindle when you pry it from my cold, dead hands.
Individual charges include e-mailed document charges to cover wireless delivery ($.10 per e-mailed document attachment). Your credit card will be charged when you have accrued at least $3.00 in total charges, or 30 e-mailed documents.
The TV business is uglier than most things. It is normally perceived as some kind of cruel and shallow money trench through the heart of the journalism industry, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free and good men die like dogs, for no good reason.
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