Everybody seems to be crazy scared of the new e-book reader, the Kindle 2, as of late.
Thankfully, not everybody thinks this is a prelude to disaster: Erica Wagner, literary editor of the Times of London, not only has written a delicious short story collection and a really cool novel, but also understands that the Kindle is just a tool, and it won't make books obsolete anytime soon.
"New technology can be applied to rather more than just the information a book contains - it can be applied to the object itself. Once upon a time, all books looked, for the most part, very much alike (and isn't it interesting that the useful cliché, “you can't tell a book by its cover”, dates from this time - and yet is still applicable when every book has a different cover?). The notion of drawing a reader in with a flashy cover is a relatively new- fangled idea, though it would be difficult to argue that many mass-market paperbacks, say, were objects of desire in and of themselves. Most books, churned off the kinds of huge presses that can produce them by the squillion, can't compete in the beauty stakes with those produced in tiny numbers by the old-fashioned letterpress method"
Personally, Opera Chic uses her Kindle (when in the US, but the Kindle2's guts contain a SIM card slot that make future connectivity in Europe quite likely) to read the books that she, frankly, wouldn't really bother keep in her library anyway. The important stuff -- Beckett's letters, or Proust, or Alagna's autobiography -- she'll always buy in the papery oldskooley version.
Jersey girl Amanda Urban, the super agent -- aka "Binky" -- just spake words of wisdom to Haaretz:
Do you think that Kindle and the mobile phone will one day replace the book entirely?
"Real books aren't going to disappear. The Kindle bestseller list contains contemporary novels of all sorts, but books that appear on the list are thrillers like James Patterson's, which are sheer entertainment, and also romance novels. These are books that people want to read but don't necessarily want to have a copy in their library. If you read a book on a Kindle or a Sony Reader, and you decide that you love it and you want a copy of it at home, you can buy it."
This dude doesn't get it, as most commenters of his piece grimly point out, so we won't elaborate more -- let just say the Telegraph joins in the glorious tradition of those who just knew -- knew -- that the tape deck with that sneaky "REC" button would kill music, and who later knew -- knew -- that the VCR would kill the film industry because everybody would tape movies from TV and, like, watch them.
Someone who understands the Internet quite a bit, William Gibson, is actually, very quietly, using his blog to preview -- for free! the horror! -- bits and pieces of his forthcoming novel.
Opera Chic is not scared at all whenever technology offers us new hardware; she mostly cares about the content anyway. And nicely printed good books -- as long as there are trees around to be cut down -- will always have their special grace.
In closing, words of wisdom re: art and technology by David Lynch (audio Not Safe For Work):