So this time, books may actually be dead.
Reports that Amazon's Kindle book-reader (has anyone else noticed its name's ominous similarity to "kindling"?) is actually a reasonable substitute for a book bring us one step closer to the end of bound paper. (A brief pause while all the trees in the world exhale.)
So, to paraphrase Barbara Walters, how does that make you feel? And by you, of course, I mean me.
I think sad. I'm no Luddite, you whippersnappers. (Wait, using "whippersnappers" may date me. How to fix, how to fix... Ah hah!) I'm no Luddite, you fucking whippersnappers. Hey, I'm a guy -- walk me past an HD plasma and I'm yours for the asking. (Of course, if you're a reasonably attractive woman, I already was -- hey, I'm a guy.) Whisper "T2 connection" in my ear and I may need tissue paper and some private time.
I think about the other things I've ditched. Cassette tapes: transferred to digital, good riddance. Videotapes: are you kidding me? LP's: ouch. But still.
The extra space, the convenience, and of course the goddam coolness -- my general policy is if it's in any way digital or has a hint of black cherry, I want it. (In fact, I have a digital garden: sensors in the ground connect to a web-based GPS system which uses a satellite to determine what gets watered when. Seriously.)
But books? It's a different relationship. Once you've read a book, you've touched, held... (dare I say caressed?... Yes, I dare!)... caressed every page. It's a much more intimate relationship than I've had with any other inanimate object, and a damn sight more than I've had with most animates. (My wife and 12 other women excepted.) (Editor: If you're printing this, please substitute "362" for "12".)
Anyway, I like to look at books, even the spines. I see old favorites -- the blue and white of "Catch-22", the flowers of "100 Years of Solitude" -- at someone's house and think "They have my book too!" And I like browsing a shelf. I search for something and find something else. I maintain that "browsing" is different from "scrolling".
When it's time (I'm a Mildly Early Adopter) I'll no doubt Kindle. But I'll keep my books. (I've kept the LP's. I have all the original Beatles, the first Elvis, the first Stones. Really, c'mon over, I'll show you.) And when books go the way of vinyl, I'm not sure the world will be poorer for it. But I think I will.