In an article in this week's New York Times (the Fashion & Style section no less!) author Joanne Kaufman addresses the Kindle's affect on literary snobbism. She points out that seeing what other people read is for many a way to compartmentalize an individual. We have all scanned a friend's bookshelf and whether you want to admit it or not, you are impressed to see a dog-eared collection of Jane Austen's novels. Or someone who actually made it through one of Pynchon's doorstop books. With the Kindle, the ability to be surreptitious in your nosiness is a lot harder. Maybe the Kindle will become some kind of class equalizer (once they are free of course) and we will no longer judge a book by its cover?
I have mixed feelings about the Kindle. I touched my first one last week. It wasn't an entirely bad experience. Am I going to buy one? No, they are far too expensive for me. But I appreciate that they can be quite handy and imagine in some settings (especially academic circles) their usefulness is being embraced with arms wide open. Frequent travelers too would also appreciate the ease of use. However, for me, part of the fun of traveling is in visiting other bookstores and picking something up that I missed in my own. There are many arguments in favor of e-readers, but for now I am going to stick to my ink & paper reader.