Thursday, April 2, 2009

Frightful Kindle

Due to poor time management skills, I've fallen out of the habit of reading books; I'm lucky to get a book completely read, as I've noted here before, so I'm not sure a Kindle is just the thing I need right now. Still, from what I've heard about it, it's tempting. Josh Marshall, though, sees its frightful side:
I hope it's clear that I don't view this as a good thing or something I welcome. When I had the realization I described above it felt like a sock in the gut, if perhaps a fillip on the interior decorating front. All the business model and joblessnes stuff aside, that's how I feel about physical newspapers too. There's a lot I miss about print newspapers, particularly the serendipitous magic of finding stories adjacent to the one you're reading, articles you're deeply interested in but never would have known you were if it weren't plopped down in front of you to pull you in through your peripheral vision. Yet at this point I probably read a print newspaper only a handful of times a year.

When I think about it I kind of miss it. In a way I regret not reading them. But I just don't. I vote with my eyes. And I wonder whether I'll soon say something similar about books.

I think he's right. The Kindle is the camel's nose under the tent; before long we'll have the whole camel and bookstores will become relics of the past, like records stores. That may seem unlikely now but 10 years or so ago, shuttered record stores would have seemed just as unlikely.

That's not necessarily a bad thing. I love browsing iTunes though I miss browsing music stores, too. Still, how many record stores did I patronize regularly? Few. Though it's different for me with bookstores - I just like to look, thanks - I can see the same thing happening. When I ever decide to finally plunk down money for a book, I look for the best deal and that's usually found online. The Kindle sounds like it'll make that easier, and cheaper to do. And like the invention of moveable type, it could actually bring more books to more people. That ain't no bad thing.

So, are we at the beginning of the end of bookstores? I don't know but I intend to enjoy my few sojourns into them even more so, just in case.

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