Kindle Shmindle

23 Oct

My thoughts exaclty...

I hate the kindle. I know this may sound like I’m some sort of nostalgist fuddy-duddy but I refuse to accept the kindle, and all that it stands for. Apart from the obvious threat it places to my job and to those of my colleagues and the book industry as a whole, what will be the fate of the humble book? This has obviously been discussed at length in the press. The American historian, Robert Darnton has even published The Case for Books, in which he predicts the end of age of the book as vehicle for knowledge. And this guy is like the world’s biggest librarian.

I love books. You may have noticed. I always think books are like barnacles. At the end of our lives, we look at what’s left, the things we’ve clung to – or perhaps clung to us – and they tell us where we’ve been and who we’ve been. In a few decades, will e-books be able to have the same poetic and symbolic value? Will our virtual book shelves still speak in the way that our real ones do now? I doubt it.

Although, I think there may be a light at the end of the tunnel: if the last quarter century is anything to go by, certain technological advances have actually helped bolster the position of their analogue ancestors. There may be a minute amount of record shops left in the world, but it seems as though record collecting is still afloat, just about. Records have a certain cache, the choice of the truly hip muso. But perhaps this might also have something to do with the total digitisation of music that has come about in the last few years; as CDs lose their material value on our high streets and in the charts, people seek out something concrete with which to worship their favourite music with. A musical icon or graven image, if you will. Nothing better celebrates the physical, object-ness of music than the record sleeve. The place where music and art merge so perfectly. Like books, the music you collect also maps the different paths your life has taken over the years.

If this is anything to go by, the rise of the kindle could also stimulate the return to the book, for some people at least. Though I’m keeping my fingers crossed for another mini disc story. Who knows what we’ll have on our shelves in years to come? Will we even have shelves I wonder…?

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