According to reports, Kindle books now outsell paperbacks on Amazon, and the Kindle itself is the hottest product Amazon sells. Perhaps this is the wave of the future. I must admit to never wanting one. I held one once, but wasn’t much impressed. When they come out with a Kindle that exudes an old book smell, offers the tactile feel of good paper on these fingers (including the possibility of a paper cut), and makes the softly pleasant sound that pages make when turned, then I may reconsider.
Of course, this statistic is specific to Amazon and perhaps doesn’t represent the world of books as a whole. Nevertheless, newspapers are falling victim to online competition. Will print books one day be replaced by e-books? Will anything really be lost other than the aesthetic elements that some prefer? Does the Kindle change the way we read so that what we read is in the process changed? If no, then the difference between the two modes is merely one of delivery. If yes, the differences could be significant and warrant serious consideration. In a Neil Postman vein, does the Kindle reflect a new and exciting facet of the print culture or does it represent the intrusion of the electronic image culture into the world of print?