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.
Sarah Harper. Sarah Harper loves blackberry pie, beach trips and Pushing Daisies. More »