Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Nicholson Baker always fusses so.

The article left me with the pervasive feeling that he did not "get it". Most of his complaints were common enough to the wood pulp connoisseur. It doesn't smell like paper. It's a little dingy. You can't read $8,000 text books on it. He criticized all the most rarefied aspects of reading on a device designed to make reading easy for a consumer.

It was silly. Of course a Kindle can't improve on a book, but there are two things that it does better than a book, one better than a computer, and at least one better than bookstores. The only interesting point he made was about intellectual property: Kindle's format is proprietary. The Sony reader published in a non-proprietary format, but couldn't get publishers to sign on for cheap. Kindle got it right for the publishers, anyways.

I'm grateful for the information about the history of the technology. The last paragraph sounded apologetic, as if he were afraid of upsetting Amazon too much. After all, people would be reading this issue of the New Yorker on Kindle. And probably whatever new, fussy book he's writing.

I would love to dress Nicholson Baker and Harold Bloom in loin clothes, put them in a wrestling ring, and have people with mind control helmets make them battle with nerf broadswords. You could make a reality television show about it. Fussbudget wars.

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