Monday, October 27, 2008

Reading, Kindle, Book 2.0 and Ludic Reading

On Friday Oprah promoted the Amazon Kindle, her new favorite gadget, something she says has changed her life. One of the exciting things about this ebook reader from my perspective is that the type of screen and the ink used to display on the screen are actually easier on the eye than a real live book. And you can adjust the font size for your reading pleasure and perhaps read without reading glasses. In addition, before buying a book for the Kindle, you can read the first chapter for free, then decide. I'm pretty impressed! FYI, Oprah is offering $50 off the pretty steep $359 pricetag for 5 more days.

In addition, here is an article from Newsweek by Steven Levy called "The Future of Reading". It is in this article that I first read about what the author calls "Book 2.0"---what comes next after we evolve past printed books into the post-Gutenberg era. Right. When I first heard about this, I thought "Never!" and then I spent some time looking into it. Readers and writers, this is information you'll want to know. Here is a quote from the article:

"'The key feature of a book is that it disappears,' he [Jeff Bezos] says. While those who take fetishlike pleasure in physical books may resist the notion, that vanishing act is what makes electronic reading devices into viable competitors to the printed page: a subsuming connection to the author that is really the basis of our book passion. "I've actually asked myself, 'Why do I love these physical objects?' " says Bezos. " 'Why do I love the smell of glue and ink?' The answer is that I associate that smell with all those worlds I have been transported to. What we love is the words and ideas."

Long before there was cyberspace, books led us to a magical nether-zone. "Books are all the dreams we would most like to have, and like dreams they have the power to change consciousness," wrote Victor Nell in a 1988 tome called "Lost in a Book." Nell coined a name for that trancelike state that heavy readers enter when consuming books for pleasure—"ludic reading" (from the Latin ludo, meaning "I play"). Annie Proulx's claim was that an electronic device would never create that hypnotic state. But technologists are disproving that. Bill Hill, Microsoft's point person on e-reading, has delved deep into the mysteries of this lost zone, in an epic quest to best emulate the conditions on a computer. He attempted to frame a "General Theory of Readability," which would demystify the mysteries of ludic reading and why books could uniquely draw you into a rabbit hole of absorption."---Steven Levy in "The Future of Reading"

I'm going to leave you hanging---it's a great article, so please read the rest if you are interested. If you do, you might be as excited as I am about going "down the rabbit hole"! It's mind-blowing...

A very informative video about reading, the future of publishing, and the Kindle can be found here. Page down to "Hear Jeff Bezos, Bestselling Authors, Charlie Rose, and Martha Stewart discuss Kindle" and click on "Hear journalist Charlie Rose talk to Jeff Bezos about Kindle on the Charlie Rose show" to the right of the video. The conversation of Charlie and Jeff will be interesting to all readers, ebook or non. They discuss "improving" on "the book". Wow.


Kim Mailhot said...

Hi Olivia !
I will be one of those old hold outs on this one, like some seniors I know who still refuse to use an ATM machine and have to see a teller at the bank ! I will be scrounging second hand stores for books forever before I give it up in favor of reading on an electronic devise. Turning the pages, protecting the spine, dust jackets, front covers, back covers, all that is between the covers...ah books, my sweet, ludic-reading evoking, infinitely comforting and inspiring loves...
There ain't no substitute for me !

(Interesting discussion though !)
Cheers !
(PS - The rocks went out yesterday - new guy at the post office got one too - pulled it out of my pocket to give it to him and it said "You rock !" Cute, huh ?)

patti said...

I think there's room for both.

I love the smell & shush of libraries, I love the artwork on the covers, I love taking all the time I want to browse, my head on one side. I love bookmarks and I love to feel the weight of the book in my hand and feel the paper as I turn the pages.

I also like to write in the margins of certain books and underline things that resonate with me, to bring back that ludic moment the next time I open up the book.

I have just ordered (yet another) book on-line and can't wait to hear the package land on my doorstep.

Kindle would be great for travellers & commuters, people in hospital, people who are isolated & can't get to libraries/bookstores etc. It also saves many trees from being cut down.

Would I buy one? Very likely, yes. But as your first commenter said 'there aint no substitute'

Olivia said...

YAY, Kim! Thank you so much for the rocks. I cannot wait to find creative ways to share them with others...and to make my own.

I always thought that I'd be a holdout for the REAL BOOK. I love the way they hold pack them...highlight them, etc. So I totally understand.

Now that I'm officially over 50, the font size changes appeals to me as does the "better than a book" contrast on a page. Recently I read a good book, but it was done in gray ink. It was such a strain to read.

Still, I am torn too. I like contemplating the future of the book, though. It will be interesting to see where this leads...

Thank you again, Kim, for joining in the discussion...and for "rocking" my world :)


Olivia said...


Yes, yes, yes. You nailed it, I'm thinking. Room for both.

I can see the Kindle for fiction. I especially like being able to read the first chapter before I buy. And for traveling. But how can it possibly replace the book?

A fascinating world we live in!

Many hours of lovely reading,



yertle said...

I have mixed feelings too. I so love books, love that pages, love the feel, love reading in the bathtub.

Yet, I can also see that a kindle would probably allow me to read more, and I miss books right now.

I have Madeline Allbright's memoir ready to read, but because it is so large, I never want to carry it around with me. I know I would already be into it if I had the Kindle.

It would also keep me from using so much luggage space on books when I travel.

It would help me to get out from under the piles of books around my house.

I must admit, that if it was cheaper, I probably would already have tried it.

Olivia said...

Yes, yertle, I hear you. I do think of Kindle as a supplement to the joy and blessings of books. It will be interesting to see what develops.

I think that the price is off-putting in these uncertain economic times. So many aspects of Kindle are new and it is hard for most of us to risk that amount of money to see if we will use something that might be great, but can in no way be defined as a necessity right now.

Blessings, rest, and health,