Saturday, October 17, 2009

Why the International Kindle Will Change the Book As We Know It - WSJ.com

High praise and expectations for the Kindle…

On Monday, the Kindle 2 will become the first e-reader available globally. The only other events as important to the history of the book are the birth of print and the shift from the scroll to bound pages. The e-reader, now widely available, will likely change our thinking and our being as profoundly as the two previous pre-digital manifestations of text. The question is how. And the answer can be found in the history of earlier book forms.

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We are still in early days, but it is obvious where the transbook is headed: It will eventually provide access to all text that is non-copyright, and to the purchase of every book in or out of "print." Kindle 2's boast of being able to hold 1,500 titles will eventually sound as ludicrous as those early ads for floppy disks boasting that they could hold up to 64k of data. We will want everything and we will get it. Possibly there will eventually develop a subscription service, which provides access to all books for a monthly fee. At any rate, a single object will contain the contents of all the world's libraries. It's just a matter of when that will happen. And who will profit.

Kindle 2 isn't really about what we may or may not want as readers and writers. It's about what the book wants to be. And the book wants to be itself and everything. It wants to be a vast abridgment of the universe that you can hold in your hand. It wants to be the transbook.

See the full article for an interesting history lesson.

Why the International Kindle Will Change the Book As We Know It - WSJ.com

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