Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Luddite Review

The Kindle is finally available in Australia.

I'm sure we've had some sort of reader device for a while now but I just saw an ad last night that said the Kindle was finally available in Australia. I suppose I should be happy? I'm not really anything.

I'm too old for this new technology. Not too old in actual years, too old in mental toughness. I just don't care anymore. I like technology; I'm not a true technophobe. I love computers and the Internet and I even don't mind my mobile phone. (Not the actual phone I have now but, don't get me started on THAT particular point) I can see the need for a Kindle. I can even see the inevitability of it. But it's not something that I care for. It makes me a bit uneasy.

I don't think books will disappear, anymore than CD's will. I mean, I can still remember a time when cassettes were supposed to have ruined the music business - and records in particular - because you could just tape your favourite music from the radio. The first instance of downloading I suppose. And I did that. Yet, to this day, I have not downloaded one piece of music. We even have iTunes on our computer but I don't use it. I don't have an iPod. Lady Hem used to have one but she left it on a plane. Don't ask. I still have my old Walkman. My cassette Walkman. I don't use it. Well, not for the purpose it was designed anyway. But I still buy CD's. Hell, I still buy vinyl AND cassettes. A lot of the music I like isn't available to download anyway.

Still, I do consider myself a Luddite. Not that I want to destroy technology but there is some of it don't want to embrace. And the Kindle is a prime example. I understand it but I don't want any part of it. I like the feel of a book. I like the heft of one. I don't necessarily want a whole library in my pocket. But it doesn't mean that I don't think it shouldn't have been invented. I suppose I despair a little at what Syd will be reading by the time she hits school. It's only five years down the track but shit, a lot can happen in five years. I'm sure the Kindle and tablets etc will be mandatory school equipment; the same as when we all would get exercise books to write in when we started a new school year.

I know this probably seems pretty stupid but I wonder if handwriting will go the way of the stone tablet? With so much being done on line these days, will there be any use for handwriting in, say, twenty years time? Will it be quaint and old fashioned, like those old remotes that connected to your TV with a cord? Will there even be any need to read? Surely in twenty years time, everything will be read out to us?

*I've just spell checked this and it doesn't recognise iPod or iTunes. Surely, in this day and age, these are words that are dictionary ready by now? It does, however, recognise Kindle. What's a Kindle? To Google!!


Gorilla Bananas said...

The problem with books is that they occupy a lot of space and waste a lot of trees. Kindle will both reduce the quantity of books and make the ones that do exist far more ornamental. But this will only happen gradually, as the luddite generations are replaced!

The Unbearable Banishment said...

Don't do it! Don't go to the dark side! What's with this "can't happen" attitude? Of course, books can disappear! Two days ago, they announced the closing of St. Mark's Books in Manhattan. It's an old, old institution that is falling victim to kindle, and the internet. Technology was supposed to set us free, not rob us of our pleasures.

*uncorked said...

I finally caved to the Kindle when I went to India last summer. I had four or five big books I wanted to read and did not want to have to carry with me. I have to say it's nice in traveling circumstances, or on public transportation just because it's easy to use. But I would rather die than bring it in the bathtub with me or use it before I go to bed. I love books. Holding them, smelling them, everything about them.

Boulette de Viande! said...

There is a great article on publishing in this month's V. Fair, speaks to a lot of this from the perspective of the industry. I'm with you: no Kindle. The way a book is shaped, smells, feels, designed all lend to my experience of a story and subsequent memory of it. I agree with GB on the occupying space point, but I use the library and have given away all but a few extremely precious tomes with which I cannot part. I'm with you on technology. I think the difference between us so called Luddites and the rest of the world is that we realize technology is the tool and that it's not the other way round. Case in point: FBook... how I loathe it.

tennysoneehemingway said...

GB: you're right about the trees GB and I probably should have thought of it from your perspective. But don't most publishers use plantation trees these days? Or is your forest still being massacared for a new Stephen King tome?

UB: I agree with the whole technology arguement but I really don't see books disappearing. I'm still heartened by the fact that people younger than me - whilst embracing the Kindle, etc. - still read and want to own books. There was a great deal of sadness around Geelong when Borders had to close. Yes, they're part of the problem but, hopefully, a few more smaller book shops will be able to stay afloat. I feel your pain though.

V: It's inevitable I suppose. Not for me but I'm sure Lady Hem will get one eventually. And when Syd learns to read I might actually HAVE to buy one for her. As I said, it will probably be mandatory school equipment in five to eight years time. I'm going to try to burn a love of books into her brain though.

Boulette: The thing is though, and this goes to GB too, I LIKE the fact that books take up so much space. I like my shelves full of books. I like the fact that I now no longer have enough space to put all the new books I'm buying. To me, a home is a home when you can see shelves full of books. But I'm definitely with you on Facebook. Have never used it and never will.