Reading Into the Future

Reading Into the Future

Vía: Teleread llego a este artículo del NY Times que firma ELEANOR RANDOLPH

My family has an unhealthy love of books. They attach themselves to us like pets, and our apartment has so many volumes that I worry about the entire eccentric library crashing suddenly through the floor and resettling itself on the neighbor downstairs. So, an electronic book makes sense. One small thing that contains a bookcase full of stories and recipes and solutions for world peace would seem to offer a very advanced solution to our family’s housekeeping problem.

Although the electronic reader has been around for years, I finally bought one last week — in this case a Kindle from Some computer snobs tend to dismiss the Kindle, or its chief competitor, the Sony Reader, as not being quite there yet. That’s fine. Not quite there yet is an almost perfect description of my own technological skills, which, I confess, were stretched to their limits recently by a hotel clock radio.

The kindly Kindle designer had me in mind, though, and the first chapter of a book by Salman Rushdie appeared at the tap of a finger. It was a book about a magical place that seemed an appropriate and worthy read, but, very quickly, I began to wonder if this machine and I would do better on softer fare. I recalibrated in favor of Elizabeth George, and, very shortly, there I was speeding along in Tomorrowland.

There are problems with the thing, of course. It flashes a bit when you turn the page, giving one the feeling that this item, like banks and teenagers with cellphones, keeps taking your picture. Maybe that is part of the experience: wondering whether the e-book is judging the reader as the reader judges the e-book. So, does it know when I yawn? Will it change the ending if I guess? Does the machine simply need fixing?

Not to be too 20th century, but I worry that Amazon knows more about my buying habits than my own family. Now comes the Kindle, which also knows how to use my credit card. It is very easy to buy an e-book. Press a few buttons here and there, and presto, a new tome appears. Obviously, an unskilled thumb (i.e., my thumb) could do real financial damage. I can only hope that my bank, which also knows my every commercial whim, would balk at the purchase of anything by, say, Bill O’Reilly.

There are darker questions about e-books, like whether these innocent-looking things will kill off the book publishing industry. Carolyn Reidy, the chief executive of Simon & Schuster (and the publisher of some of my husband’s works), said recently that e-books were only $1 million of her company’s $1 billion business last year. But, she added, this segment is growing so fast that it is at a tipping point. For somebody who still loves book books, this does not sound terrific.

It is easy to see that the e-book has its place — like on an airplane. There are also times when it doesn’t belong. For reading at the beach or in the bathtub. Or for Salman Rushdie, there is still nothing like a good old-fashioned hardback.

0 comentarios