Originally, I had planned on writing a book review, until I read an article in the cover story of this past week’s edition of Newsweek, entitled “The Future of Reading” by Steven Levy (http://www.newsweek.com/id/70983).
Amazon’s Jeff Bezos is getting ready to release its newest version of electronic readers, the Kindle. While a skeptic going into the article, I quickly realized that this may indeed, be the true beginning of the actual replacement, or rather, the enhancement of the printed book. Why? Because in Levy’s review of the product at the end of the article, he commented on something that I felt could never happen. When using the Kindle, he felt the true test was whether or not he could get “lost” in his reading, or as he says, “ . . . that trancelike zone where the world falls away.” And, he did. There are other plusses as well: the reader can enlarge the font, the text is searchable, the books one wants download instantly from Amazon for just $9.99, the device is light-weight and is shaped like a book, and its wireless connection to the internet works from just about anywhere. The hugest drawback is its cost–$399, but, in all likelihood, this will go down over time. There is another drawback that is not discussed in the article but, from my perspective, I am wondering if the public wants yet another device that has to be charged in order to be used. (Is anyone else out there as sick of cords and chargers lying all over the house like I am?)
Cynics will argue that printed books will likely not go by the wayside anytime soon, and they are correct in some respects, because the baby-boomer generation loves print. But, the upcoming generation is more inclined to want to view things digitally, given that they have been surrounded by gadgets their entire lives. I think this could be the beginning of the transition from the book as we know it. It’s easy to deny that change can happen, but as we all learned about fifteen years ago with the internet, it does. All librarians should read this article to see whether or not they agree with this prediction about electronic readers.