Friday, February 27, 2009

Kindle kindle KINDLE!

I'm so over even the word Kindle. Right?

But still, it's what we all must talk about, all this week and at least until the middle of next week. If you have any interest in books or publishing or words or really communication or really even information, talk Kindle non-stop. It's an order.

If you need yet another assessment of this product to end all (publishing) products, check out Farhad Manjoo's article in Slate, in which he admits to loving this device but fearing for how it will impact the publishing industry. He praises the device and the system in place to update it, but he rightly points to the complete monopoly Amazon holds on this market and the futile efforts to resist it. He puts it into context, talking about other industries, but then explains how books are different than music et al:
But we've come to a different cultural consensus on books. First, we've decided that books should be sharable—when you buy a book, you can pass it along to others freely. In fact, governments and large institutions actively encourage the practice; we build huge, beautiful buildings devoted to lending books to perfect strangers. We've also decided that there should be an aftermarket for books: When you buy a book, you're also buying the right to sell that book when you're done with it.
He sees the Kindle's stranglehold - not the concept of an e-reader or digitized books - as killing the publishing industry and the actual book as a form of communication: "And even if the publishing industry isn't devastated when a single bookstore takes over the e-book world, the marketplace for books will be diminished." Scary stuff. (thanks to bookninja for the link)

I'm still annoyed by the separation between the product itself - existing in some secret warehouses and in the private homes of consumers only - and the marketing of it - which is evident everywhere you look! Surely some theorist can draw out how this is the ultimate capitalist experiment wherein the illusion of the product becomes more important than the manufacturing of it.

I need to change the tagline of this blog, though, because as e-reading becomes a reality, I'm not against it, but we need to open the field to allow something useful and prosperous through, something that has potential to share different voices and ideas and viewpoints. Amazon is the new Wal-mart and has too much power - even high-powered agents like "Binky" Urban are saying it - and we must find a way to topple this giant.

Until we do, Bezos is like the Wizard of Oz, and I ain't feeling it.

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