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Dec. 22, 2010

Kindling the holiday spirit

by Sarah Harper, Online News Editor
The razor-thin Kindle 3 has been a bestseller this holiday season. Courtesy of Amazon.com Courtesy of amazon.com
The razor-thin Kindle 3 has been a bestseller this holiday season. Courtesy of Amazon.com
Garlands and wreaths are hanging from storefronts. Candles are flickering behind windowpanes. Carolers are barging onto doorsteps. At last, the days of hectic holiday shopping are numbered.

Like clockwork, the seasonal spike in sales coincides with the unveiling of the latest and greatest products. One of this year's bestsellers is the Kindle, a portable e-reader that can hold thousands of books. The newest model a sleek flat-screen available in two colors and able to connect to Wi-Fi networks is set at a pricey $139. Even so, shoppers are willing to shell out the extra bucks for a product that has revolutionized the book market and turned reading into a no-hassle activity.

Wait. When did reading become a hassle?

The Kindle is nothing more than a predator and the book a dying breed, abandoned in a dusty, untouched corner of the market. The quiet thrill of cracking open an old story, of holding a worn cover and smoothing the dog-eared pages has been forgotten by the current consumer. In a modern age where social interactions have been condensed into a network and knowledge is available at a single click, internal interactions are an enigma. The private act of reading a book is something technology cannot fully replicate.

Though the story remains the same whether printed on a page or reproduced on a screen, curling up in front of the fire with a good book is partially a sensory experience. Readers crave the feel of holding an entire world between their palms. Somehow, "curling up with a Kindle" doesn't sound quite the same.

In many ways, the Kindle strips away the pleasure of reading. The streamlined e-reader has none of the old-world charm of a battered book. There is no chance of stumbling across scribbled notes in the margins or underlined words left by a previous owner. Nor can the Kindle replace the satisfying feeling of snapping the cover shut once the story has been read.

Perhaps the traditional book is on its way to extinction. But the Kindle has neither the cultural lineage nor enduring quality of the printed story and is, in all likelihood, a passing fad.



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  • SARAH HARPER FAN 123 on December 22, 2010 at 11:27 PM
    This is such a well written article. I can hear Sarah saying the words when I read it... I guess I know her too well haha. Keep it up gurr

    And I agree. Who wants to stare at a screen when you can hold the real thing in your hands for just as cheap, if not for free from friends or the bookstore? Like you, I find it a silly fad, but I know people who swear by their e-readers. I guess it's just a matter of preference.
  • bibliophile on December 23, 2010 at 7:42 AM
    The look and feel of anything known as "razor thin" can never replace the physical feeling of a book.
  • Lauren on December 26, 2010 at 9:14 AM
    I agree that the Kindle cannot replicate the sensory experience of reading a traditional hardcover book, but it is more practical in some situations. I have trouble fitting books onto my treadmill to read while working out, but the Kindle is compact enough to fit on the tray.

    • uhhh on December 27, 2010 at 12:50 AM
      you read on the treadmill??
  • Eric on December 27, 2010 at 11:01 PM
    This article is completely wrong. To start off with, the thing you have pictured in this article is a Kindle DX, not a Kindle 3. E-reading is not a fad, you are able to download hundreds of thousands of books at home, to one lightweight device. Taking notes, looking up words, even browsing the web, playing games, and listening to music are all available on devices like the Nook or Kindle. Plus, the screen has better contrast and is actually easier to read on than a book. Along with all of that, although saying curling up with a book sounds better, it's much much easier to do it with an e-reader because its thinner, lighter, able to be held in one hand and your also able to turn the page of the book with one hand.

    NOW, with that being said, I still enjoy books for all of the reasons you have mentioned in the article. But just as a quote that I've read says;

    A new medium doesn't necessarily displace an existing one. An established medium can continue to flourish so long as it continues to offer a unique experience.
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