Monday, March 2, 2009

Reading Re-Kindled?

I don't often get my news from Comedy Central, but last week, I saw a fascinating interview on The Daily Show. John Stewart, the host, was speaking with Jeff Bezos, founder of, about the newest gadget the Kindle 2.

In case you haven't heard of the Kindle, it's a 'wireless reading device'; a high-tech machine that allows users to download books and read them from a small, digital screen. Think I-Pod for literature.

There's been a lot of talk about how this may or may not revolutionize the world of the written word. Many questions crop up. Will bibliophiles want to curl up on the couch with a computer screen rather than an old-fashioned tome? At $360.00 a pop (plus an additional $10.00 for each book), aily show, john stewart, I-pod, reading, technology, television, fiction, copyright violations, copyright, Comedy Central, fiction, getting published, reading, wwill the Kindle ever be affordable enough for the average person to own? And - probably most important to those of us writers - where's the copyright protection? (Some even wonder if it is permissible for the robotic Kindle-voice to read the books aloud).

My take on this is that it's the twenty-first century and times are changing. Writers need to get used to it. I like to think of such technological advances as opportunities, and my hope is that the Kindle will make books more accessible to a broader audience. I would love a book in which I could look up the words I don't know simply by clicking on them or get editor notes with a touch of a wand. There may even be more opportunities for lesser-known authors to promote their work by offering free Kindle downloads on their websites. I, for one, would love to offer some of my short fiction to Kindle users gratis, hoping to build a reputation that would lead to more book sales.

Of course, it is impossible to know for sure what will happen, and I'm sure that the Kindle will have many unexpected effects - both good and bad. But one thing I'm fairly sure of is that devices like the Kindle are very much a part of our future.


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