Say hello to my Little Kindle!

So.. read the article in the Nov. 26 Newsweek about Amazon and the Kindle.  About six people I know (outside of school) had asked me about it before I even got the issue in my mailbox.  (Yes – I get it in hard copy.)  My family and friends know I’m in Library School and often forward e-mails with all manner of things to do with libraries be it architecture (the new Seattle library is awesome) or the Kindle business.  I particularly liked the NYT article about the new ‘hip’ librarian last summer.  Made me feel especially cool for about a week. heh.

But this was really interesting.  Seems they have incorporated a technology that makes the print VERY clear and easy to read, defeating one traditional problem of e-readers.  And they’ve included all the expected things… hyperlinking, searchible text, the ability to buy a book right on the screen and have it instantly….

Bezos, Amazon’s head man, is said to be a great reader in the article.  His wife as well.  It’s interesting to me that he would be so passionate about creating and perfecting a device that so clearly aims to destroy the book as we know it.  He talks about buying books in the future with the idea that the author could make ongoing changes and immediately download them over time.  Of course, this would be ideal with reference works.  But Dean Koontz?  Robin Cook?  Nope.  Uh-uh.  Count me out.

And I’ll illustrate why.  Recently, J.K. Rowling, in her tour promoting the last of the Harry Potter books, has been spouting some really unfortunate gossip.  She’s been going about telling people at book signing, lectures and the like what happened to characters after the series ended.  She’s also been filling in what I thought of as completely unnecessary details about other characters.  Sure… the first time I finished The Lord of the Rings when I was 11, I wanted the story to have gone on for 20 more volumes.  But, it didn’t.  There was only The Simarillion… or however you spell it.  And so I was left to imagine…. well.. full stop.  Left to imagine.  J.K. Rowling, in her impertinent tampering with a perfectly great story, has taken that out of the readers hands.

This is precisely why I do not want my fiction copy to be editable after it is published.  Okay, so maybe Stephen King’s extra 200 pages of the re-issued The Stand was awesome beyond words and I was greedy for every page of it as a true fan should be.  In my defense.. it was his original story restored.  He has always had to cut reams of content from his books to please the publishers.  But by and large, when I get to the end of a book, it should be over.  Like any decent ex-boyfriend, it should respectfully and politely drop off the face of the planet when I’m done with it. 

Now, if Bezos had his way, he’d have them all lined up in my driveway every morning to re-issue their final statements or edit some particularly galling diatribe they’d delivered on how it’s a man’s God-given right to leave the toilet seat up.  And just as I was about to finally pull into the street, I’d find out that Margaret Mitchell’s estate had decided to have Rhett come running back out of the mist and sweep Scarlet up in his arms.  Which, of course, would deprive the world of any grounding when they uttered, “Tomorrow is another day….”

I know I’m harping on this one aspect… but I can’t help it.  You’ve read here how I feel about publicly editable copy such as you find on Wikipedia.  I just can’t swallow the bitter pill of having John Q. Public rewriting what was otherwise perfectly engaging, informed, and credible copy.  I can see publishers deciding that John Grisham’s books would play better if they didn’t always end with a discontented ‘hero.’  As the movie producers of his books made into films obviously did.  Since they ‘own’ it, they could.  Ever see idiocracy?  Yeah.  Scary.

So, Bezos… give me a wall full of books in my backpack… sell me volume upon volume of easily transferable literature… let me put off buying those glasses for an extra five years…but please, please.. for the love of, well.. you know… do NOT make copy already sent to me and purchased AS IS into anything else.  Thank you and amen.

And here I’ll let you in on one of the biggest things that contributed to me becoming a librarian… I got a job – by complete happenstance – in a library.  The lowliest of jobs – library assistant.  I shelved, I processed, I checked out.  But I got completely invested in it.  The service of it, the minutia, the processes.  The books… ahhhh, yes.  The books.  But after six years, I learned something else… I wasn’t getting any younger.  Strangely, adulthood had caught up to me and gotten a running lead.  I had to pick a lane.  Serendipitously, I was already in one.

  • Playing God

    I wrote in one of my posts here that I thought of authors as God when I was a kid. And now I'm putting MY random thoughts out there for general edification. heh. Karma. As a job, being God is kind of intimidating. Thank (God) only adults are reading this. (I hope.) That way, I only have to be intimidated about being, say, a lesser cherub.