Friday, December 07, 2007

Osnos on Kindle

So this email has been sitting in my inbox, waiting patiently to be read, for a few days. I didn't delete it as I knew I wanted to read it and would probably post about it, but who had time? Not me, not this week. Until today.

The email in question was the the latest Platform "column" from Peter Osnos, as published by the Century Foundation. He's writing about - what else? - Amazon's Kindle. This li'l device is like the electronic version of Britney Spears - I am sick to death of hearing about both. But he makes good points about the Amazon business model and the need to embrace various ways of publishing books, as the music has done (or in some cases, has resisted, futilely).

But I did like this strangely circular story - circularly insofar as he's a book editor trying to edit on the latest gadget to electronicize books:
As an editor, I was especially interested in the promise of downloading documents and manuscripts from my computer so I could read them and take notes without hauling wheelbarrows full of paper. My first effort ended in a two-hour session with Kindle customer service that reflected how much supplier and user still needed to learn. But after a bit of practice, I succeeded in a sending myself a PDF of a manuscript.

I had heard that you could take notes on this thing, which is an improvement - my partner, an academic, was particularly pleased to hear this, though I am not running out to buy one and throw it under the tree. But as an editor? I just never conceived of using it in this way. But I'm old-fashioned, obviously: I still do my first full edit on a manuscript with paper and pencil. I know, I know.

So I'm over Kindle. Maybe others are just getting excited, and more will open a Kindle on Christmas morning and squeal and play with it and download John Grisham, etc etc. I might like to play with a display model, but that's about as much interest as I can muster. Blame media saturation or stodginess.

I was more excited to hear about JetBlue getting WiFi on their planes. Airlines have no excuse for moving along on this. Mind you, I don't travel much and my laptop is not sleek and light, so I never take it on flights, but still, this seems like progress.

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