The Future Of The Book, Redux

It reads like a pre-i-bubble-burst marketing sheet:

In October, the online retailer Amazon.com will unveil the Kindle, an electronic book reader that has been the subject of industry speculation for a year, according to several people who have tried the device and are familiar with Amazon’s plans.

…Several people who have seen the Kindle say this is where the device’s central innovation lies — in its ability to download books and periodicals, and browse the Web, without connecting to a computer…The device also has a keyboard, so its users can take notes when reading or navigate the Web to look something up. A scroll wheel and a progress indicator next to the main screen, will help users navigate Web pages and texts on the device.

As the Times article points out, the new e-book offering from Amazon may end up like the host of dot-com failures that came before them. For while the pitch is persuasive — “Digital readers are not a replacement for a print book; they are a replacement for a stack of print books” — yeah, yeah…we’ve heard it all before.

People like books. People like the tactile quality, dog-earing the pages, marking up the sides. People like a book’s transportability, so you can read them on a beach, or on the roof deck. Or, yes, crass as it is, on the toilet. Books on a bookshelf, are, in a way, art; they look cool. They’re certainly also an expression of who we are, and what’s in our brains.

And if you lose it, oh well, it’s a book. $14.95, not the $400 to $500 Amazon plans on charging for their new Kindle.

Now, if the thing allows me to vote on American Idol…they may have something!

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