After watching a live blog of the launch of Kindle 2, I followed the comments on The New York Times BITS page. The majority, my own included, are positive, but a few see no joy in Amazon's e-reader:
“I have no idea how this kindle thing works and don’t want to know. I have a library I cherish and I take pleasure in touching and browsing through my old and new friends. I love the smell of new books, funky bookstores and book sales where I can find exciting surprises,” says one critic. “I cannot imagine a world without books...”
And nor can I, unless seen through the mirror of Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451. [Where books are burned, not because of censorship but a tyranny of mindless television, as Bradbury says in a web interview.]
Other critics lament that Kindle books can't be loaned to friends, will “break” if dropped, and bear no comparison to real books.
I'm surrounded by old favorites I can pick up and browse in an instant. I understand the loss these book lovers fear. I look at a shelf with a fine set of the works of Charles Dickens. I think of the best of days spent with Copperfield or a dozen other tales.
I love holding a book in my hand, but know that what captivates me as I sit with Dickens is not paper but ideas. – The story will never change, only the way in which it's presented.
Some prejudice against reading online may be rooted in readers' experience of the early days of e-books with wretched formatting and mediocre delivery. Kindle and other e-readers are already light years away from those recent dark ages, their world of “books” and ideas expanding at warp speed.
Nothing illustrates this more than the British Library's online rare books. Anyone who has ever been in the rare book section of a library knows the rigmarole one goes through and for good reason. Few people will ever get to hold original treasures such as Leonardo da Vinci's Sketches in their hands.
The British Library's Turning the Pages® makes it possible for everyone to do just that, browsing and turning the pages of Sketches and a selection of other priceless works. – As “real” and close-up as you ever likely to see them!