This morning I finally read the Newsweek article, The Future of Reading, about Amazon's Jeff Bezos and the impact of the Kindle on reading, the book in general, and all that makes sense in the known universe. Frankly, I found the article terrifying! I wasn't as upset about the device's effect on reading, as I was about it's effect on writing. The idea of a novel as a collaborative process, wikified and edited by it's readership, gave me the shivers. Not every one's cup of tea, to say the least.
But as I was reading, I couldn't help but think about what a very adult device the Kindle is. I'm sure kiddie kindles are in the works, just like the digital cameras Fisher Price makes for toddlers, and the child friendly keyboards for computers. One of the appealing features of the kindle, according to the article, is that it's "bookish". It feels like a book--has a book's jes ne se quai. But how can one appreciate the bookish appeal of a device if one is still learning what a book is? Could I use a Kindle effectively in story time? How would picture book illustrations fare on a device no larger than a paperback? We see how artwork for LP's was diminished when reduced to the size of a CD jewel case (and it's hardly worth mentioning the tiny little image in an ipod's screen.)
Trekkies will be aware that when Captain Jean Luc Picard needs to relax after a hard day on the Enterprise, he reached for his Earl Grey (hot) and a massive tome of Shakespeare, not the tiny palm-sized tablet he uses for work (or, admittedly, that budding author Jake Sisko on Deep Space Nine uses. A generational preference, perhaps?) The point is, the death of the book has been predicted many times before. And although the Kindle doesn't so much represent the death of the book as its evolution, I reckon that the experiences of our youngest readers will dictate the success and viability of the Kindle, and not the Tech Heads (and I count myself as a Tech Head!) who love new gadgets.