A little good-natured Kindle-bashing


March 08, 2009|By David Rosenthal

Imade the mistake last week of delivering a tongue-in-cheek critique of Kindle2, Amazon's new e-book reader. Soon, that Read Street post, playfully called "10 reasons to hate the Kindles," sparked a nasty online backlash. Milder examples of the constructive criticism included the words knee-jerk, idiotic, pompous and incoherent. Others are unsuitable for a family newspaper.

What started it all? Here's my list:

1. You can't leave it lying on your beach towel when you doze off at Ocean City.

2. Beautiful Russian ballerinas won't introduce themselves upon noticing your copy of Secrets of Nijinsky.

3. Striking cover art such as the gothic drawings on Lauren Groff's books can't be appreciated.

4. All books are the same in Kindleworld. You lose the heft of Guns, Germs and Steel and the sprightliness of a poetry collection such as Elizabeth Spires' The Wave-Maker.

5. I can't use my collection of random bookmarks: a ticket from the Paris metro, an Orioles game stub or a museum pass.

6. The DK and National Geographic books aren't made for electrons. Or do they make a coffee-table-size Kindle?

7. The battery never dies on my paperback of The Big Sleep.

8. I can't bear to part with my stacked, covered bookcase.

9. If I hate what I'm reading, I can't throw it across the room.

I left No. 10 blank for readers, and here's what some had to say:

* Lauretta: You can't lend to anyone, meanwhile saying, "You have to read this book."

* Paul: Bookstores ... [the] real search engine, the real browser, with built-in chat rooms!

* Cam: [It doesn't] smell delicious, like a new (and sometimes old!) book does. I can't write in your margins. I can't feel your pages.

* Amanda: You can't just let Kindle fall open at a random page and browse whatever fate wants you to see. There's a reason we gave up scrolls for pages!

Have another suggestion for No. 10? Let us know in an e-mail or a comment on Read Street. Kindle defenders are welcome.

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