Friday, February 27, 2009

Special Auxiliary Mid-Afternoon Quote

"Say Barnes & Noble signed a deal to sell the next Twilight book at a huge discount. But with a catch—the book would be published in invisible ink, and in order to read it you'd need to buy a special Barnes & Noble black light. This is ludicrous, of course, and no bookstore would ever attempt such a deal. But what's the Kindle other than a fancy digital decoder ring?"
- Farhad Manjoo, "Fear the Kindle,"Slate 2/26/09

3 comments:

Rick said...

"Say [Bantam] signed a deal to sell the next Twilight book at a huge discount. But with a catch -- the book would be published in [typed-out letters] instead of [spoken to you by an elder], and in order to read it you'd need [to attend a school, probably sponsored by your government]. This is ludicrous, of course, and no storyteller would ever attempt such a deal. But what's the [printing press] other than a fancy [ink-driven encoder] ring?"

Or, wait, Try this:

[Audible.com], [MP3 format], [killing trees], [a digital music player], [iPod], [digital decoder]

Luddites amuse me. They make me want to play Mad-Libs.

Attributed to Stuart Brand: "Once a new technology rolls over you, if you're not part of the steamroller, you're part of the road."

Andrew Wheeler said...

Rick: That's a pretty weak analogy, since the Kindle is much more similar to a printed book (another way to read a string of text) than either is to an audiobook or to reading aloud.

(And you've utterly missed the subtext by resolutely ignoring the DRM question.)

Twenty yard penalty for special pleading -- play resumes.

Rick said...

Actually, rights-management was precisely my point. Re-read that quote, but frame yourself in Gutenberg times.

If you were one of the few literati who made their lives off of copying books, the printing press would have seemed like the end of the world to you. You would have made overtures about the cold, inhuman text that all looked alike.

Or say you were a performing artist who made money by traveling around and telling epic tales, such as Beowulf. Again, the printing press would have seemed like the end of the world. Now you'd argue that the literacy requirement to enjoy a good epic story was a ridiculous one. Or that the beauty of the story was in the telling, not in the words.

Yeah, both arguments are razor-thin and one-sided, but that's my point -- I think the anti-Kindle-fanboyism is just as razor-thin and backward-thinking. Hence the Stuart Brand quote.

Today's release of the iPhone tie-in underlines the ridiculousness of the original quote -- now they're giving away the black light and decoder ring. So what's to complain about now?

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