The Kindle and the Death of the Physical Novel.

I saw a couple of awful commercials a while ago for the kindle.

Sample One and Sample Two

It showed a man and a woman arguing over which was better. The woman has a book while man shows off his e-Reader. She keeps trying to tell him that physical books are better… He argues that the kindle is better… until he eventually convinces her that the kindle is the only way to go, all within a 30 second TV spot.

This is entirely the wrong way to go about this. The marketing plan is flawed and I think it keeps bibliophiles/bookworms from trying out a kindle. I’ve known several people who refuse to try one, one that is involved in the publishing industry. Isn’t that the market Amazon is trying to reach? Why alienate the die-hard readers?

I love books. I make them, I read them and I collect them. I love the smell, and the feel, nothing in this world matches the experience of holding a book. But I also own an iPad and my girlfriend has a Kindle that I love and I can’t wait until the iPad combines both technologies (here). I have bought and read several eBooks in the past year that I’ve had my iPad and yet I have still managed to buy at least 20 physical books, probably more, in that same amount of time.

New technology like the Kindle or the iPad should be seen as supplements for constant readers, not as replacements.

I believe printing will never completely die. In the worst case it will become more of an art niche, since the electronic market continues to grow, but that’s not really so bad. People like me will continue to buy books, just like audiophiles will continue to buy vinyl. Since there is surprisingly very little difference in the cost to make an eBook verses a printed book I’d like to think that anything worth buying would more than likely have a printed version made. Maybe you won’t be able to get the latest tween thriller in hardcover, but who really cares? I feel confident that my new edition of the next Danielewski experiment will be available in a beautiful hardbound book.

The actual act of reading is what is important when you get down to it. Not how it is delivered, or sold or packaged, despite my love for collecting and holding the physical book, the reason I love books is for the words or pictures. I’ve met a lot of people who didn’t read very much until eBooks, so if anything I think more people will be reading in the future.

If I’m home I might choose to read a real book, if I go on a trip I rather bring 50 books along with me so I can try each out, especially since with digital books you can download samples to see if you like it before you buy. I can also discover a book at 3am and immediately start reading it on my ipad if I choose to, or even check out books from the library on a Kindle.

Digital books need to be seen as just another way to read, not as the only way.


Published by: marc calvary

eternally residing in new york, the carbon based mistake currently takes the form of zines, photography, writing, blasphemy, design, art, and printing. - publish and be damned


2 thoughts on “The Kindle and the Death of the Physical Novel.”

  1. I have a Kindle, but I was one of those people who were completely against the idea to begin with. But books were no longer fitting in my room (there’s only so much space!), and the Kindle seemed like the perfect way to solve that problem. Now, as much as it shames me to say this, I prefer reading on my Kindle. But I still love books, owning books, flipping through them, and smelling them – I still buy them, but not *nearly* as much as I used to.

    Like you, I think the actual act of reading is important, and how it’s delivered is not. It doesn’t matter if you read a hard copy of Little Women or an e-book of Little Women – you’re still absorbing it, reading it, and enjoying it.

  2. I was against them too, for a long time. Hell, I was against CD’s for a long time, and computers too. I listened to my music on vinyl or cassette tape and made my zines with scissors and a photocopier at kinko’s. But refusing to adapt isn’t always the greatest idea. Life is too short not to try new things.

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