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What would Gutenberg do (WWGD)?

GutenbergPrint in the age of pixels

It took a Facebook posting about the Kindle from a friend who I know to be intelligent, creative and filled with love for humanity (yep, that's you, Molly) to get me thinking about e-book readers. I'm not sold on them. Most people consider me to be a computer guy*, yet I can't bring myself to buy a Kindle or an iPad. Why is that?

* In my house we have six working computers, an iPhone, and an Adam, a Commodore 64, and a 512k Mac that I'm keeping for historic reasons.

On a typical day I spend 2-3 hours on the computer, twice that during the school year.

I teach Web and Interactive Media to college students. I have Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn accounts.

I obsessively check my email and Facebook accounts every hour or two.

I'm no Luddite.

I like to read, always have. I read both fiction and non-fiction, usually books I get from the library. I have stacks of books I've ordered from Amazon.com. I have the New York Times app on my iPhone. In many ways I'm the ideal customer for an e-book reader, but I haven't bought one. Yet.


On a recent trip to Chicago I overheard two different people raving about their Kindles. The common thread: you can read any book you want, anytime, with an unlimited inventory to choose from, instantly. You can carry your whole library with you everywhere you go.

Pretty much everyone who has one seems to agree that carrying with you every book you might want to read is a darn cool thing.


There may be some philosophical or psychological argument that having everything you want, all the time, is detrimental to your well-being. I'm not going to make that case.

My issue is more immediate. I'm concerned about keeping some balance in my life. I'm worried that if I get an e-reader I'm moving even more of my life to a screen. I already spend hours in front of my computer every day, much of it by choice. Mostly I enjoy it. But...

I also enjoy the world of things: the weight, texture, smell, sound, and feel of... books, for example. I use reading a book as a break from my on-screen life. I sit on the couch with Ted Koppel's journal of a year in his life that I got from the Lakewood library. I balance it on my knees and read while I eat lunch. It's a physical thing, and I need that break from the glowing pixels that dominate so much of my waking hours.

I'm pretty sure that's the reason I'm still in the Gutenberg era when it comes to books. Yet I'm also very aware that I may be missing something wonderful by clinging to what I know best. Who knows, Gutenberg himself (WWGD?) might be using a KIndle if he were around today.

Give me your best shot

If you own a Kindle, iPad or any e-book reader tell me what you love about it (and what you hate). Just click the pink "Post a Sticky" tab below to add your own note (160 characters or less). Everyone's comments will be shared on this wall.

If you have more to say and 160 characters just won't do it, email me.

Please share this article with anyone who owns/uses any type of e-book reader.


Vacation update

Dublin streetJust added:

First day in Dublin: eating, hurling (not what you think), walking — July 25, 2010


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