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Will digital books catch on?
The recent release of Amazon
 

What happened
The recent release of Amazon’s new Kindle has stirred a debate over the future of book publishing. The wireless reading device—which is about the size of a paperback book, but slimmer—allows readers to download entire books from a selection of over 90,000 titles, can store over 200 books at a time, and retails for $399.

What the commentators said
“It’s far too soon to tell” if the Kindle will do “for the publishing industry what the iPod did for the music industry,” said Carolyn Y. Johnson in The Boston Globe. But one thing’s for sure: “Even though people listen to song after song in a single sitting, most do not need to flip between dozens of novels at once.”

What about the benefits of the Kindle? said Saul Hansell in The New York Times. It gives you “the ability to buy any of tens of thousands of volumes virtually instantly, and to carry hundreds of volumes in your briefcase or carry-on bag.” It also has “a built-in copy of the New Oxford American Dictionary,” quick “access to all two million English articles in the Wikipedia encyclopedia,” and allows you to “download newspapers, magazines and some blogs.” Trying doing that with a paperback.

But it’s not a “real” book, said Emily L. Hauser in The Christian Science Monitor. “The physical structure of a book is an indissoluble part of the reading experience, as is the volume’s weight in your hands, or the fact that two page pages face each other, your eyes on one, a thumb resting idly on the other.” And what about “the new book smell” or “the creak of a just-opened spine”? Sorry, but the Kindle “just won’t fly.”

 

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