Feature

Nicholson Baker's Kindle critique

What the author thinks of "the brave new world of e-books"

It's fascinating "to see what happens when a man of letters encounters the brave new world of e-books," said Marjorie Kehe in The Christian Science Monitor. In the latest issue of The New Yorker, author Nicholson Baker offers his take on the Kindle 2, and he's a bit skeptical, to say the least. But of course, "if you're an author who makes his/her living from books, you have so many reasons to fear, love, despise, and/or at least be profoundly curious about Amazon's Kindle e-reader."

"Nicholson Baker is an unapologetic friend of paper," said Harry McCracken in Technologizer, so it's no surprise that his Kindle article for The New Yorker is hardly a "love letter"—and it's probably "as eloquent a bad review of the Kindle as you're going to find." He "points out rightly" that the Kindle's presentation of newspapers is "pretty pathetic," and, like me, he questions the assumption that the LCD screen on iPhones "is harder on the eyeballs than E Ink."

Baker's article is at times "pedantic," said Steven W. Beattie in Quill & Quire, but it's "occasionally quite funny," and "a welcome respite from some of the more tech-oriented responses to the digital device." The author's "ultimate conclusion is that the Kindle 2 is a viable reading device if the book is compelling enough to make you forget the device itself."

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