Saturday, May 2, 2009

Not sayin'... just sayin'....

The Kindle II strikes me as the kid in class who gets all the attention- love or hate, people just can't look away. As soon as you do, Bezos starts in with the spitballs and it starts all over again. So, it pains me slightly to feed the Kindle fire (not an actual fire, although the name is evocative; I do not condone burning books or e-readers of any kind!), but there is one thread I can't resist pulling on a bit more.

It's the notion that there exists a widespread strain of book-snobbery, judging people by their covers... of the books they're reading. I was not aware of this particular epidemic, but there have been several articles on the phenomena. I personally and very interested (as a bookseller, teacher, writer & busy-body) in what people are reading, and it's hard to separate that interest from some snap assessments, but I'd never thought of it as judging. Open apology to all those who have felt judged by their book covers as I walked by and peered a little too long.

Kindle will save us from both the judging eyes and the ego-maniacal show-offs because there is no more cover to see. Pulps, bestsellers, self-help, newspapers, classics - all under that plastic/metallic sheen. The great literary equalizer... except... PEOPLE WILL SEE YOU READING ON A KINDLE!!!

Nothing against the Kindle, but let me offer up an analogy: I love bikes of all types, road, racing, mountain, retro, kids, trick... each one is very enjoyable and specifically suited to different tastes and activities, and each one carries some reputation. I may be judged as being healthy, being broke, being a pretentious eco-warrior of some sort. I may take on all the fury originally directed at bikers who were not safe or considerate on the road. So, to avoid the whole hullabaloo, I buy a nice, shiny Hummer. It's sleek and attractive and it can hold all of my bikes! I can take my bikes anywhere now! Heck, if I see a bike I like, I can have it in my Hummer in a matter of seconds (with a good lock cutter). Gone are the days of being judged and feeling awkward for being so pretentious with my bikes, now that my Hummer is with me everywhere I go!

Again, nothing against the Kindle or the Hummer... well, nothing too much against either of them... but it seems to me that as far as judging people goes, you'd be jumping out of the pan straight into the fire. E-readers (the kindle is not the only one on the market - iphone has app and the sony e-reader is cheaper and very comparable) definitely have a lot of advantages and they are a blessing to people who are by trade or nature very avid readers. But, if you want to avoid prying eyes, invest in an affordable book tote cover (quilted with good designs; handles and book mark built in). Or, hide your kindle in a bestselling hardcover.

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