Fear and Loathing: Books 2.0

There’s been much talk lately of Books 2.0, and how devices like the Amazon Kindle will change reading forever. As an avid Kindle user, I’m excited, and frankly a bit frightened, to see where the book is headed in the digital age. I love the fact that with my Kindle, I can carry the equivalent of hundreds of pounds of books in a tiny package, especially helpful as my trade frequently has me on airplanes for long periods. To me, this is the magic of the Kindle and the “digital revolution” in books.

Many pundits have been breathlessly pondering the Kindle’s potential as a social networking vehicle for books as an exciting capability, but I cannot count myself among their ranks. I’m far from a luddite, but this concept has me running for the hills. As an avid reader and published author, I find that books are one of the last forms of individual literary dialogue left. Unlike most other media, the author and reader share an uninterrupted dialog through the act of reading. It’s a personal and deep dive into another’s world, and a six course meal in a world of bite-sized media. As one who bemoans authors who riddle their text with footnotes and end notes, I rue the day where a book I’m reading will have hyperlinks, sidebar comments, and twitter-like trivialities flashing up in the text interrupting that dialog. I frankly have no interest in what KoolKat9838 has to say about a particular passage of Atlas Shrugged, and if I wanted their opinion I would happily open my browser or pose the question on twitter.

The best and worst aspect of the web is that anyone with a computer can generate content. I purchase a book because I am interested in a healthy dose of a particular author’s perspective. If I want a huddled mass of content ranging from the intellectual to the inane, I’ll head for the web. But leave my interaction with a book and its author alone, please.

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