Blog

Will Digital Books Ever Replace Print?

We want to believe, but Amazon won't let us.

Craig Mod shares a very romanticized view of physical books in his article on the fall of Kindle:

Aside from revamping digital book covers and the library browsing interface, Kindles could remind us of past purchases – books either bought but left unread, or books we read passionately and should reread. And, in doing so, trump the unnetworked isolation of physical books. Thanks to our in-app reading statistics, Kindle knows when we can’t put a book down, when we plunge ourselves into an author’s world far too late into the night, on a weeknight, when the next day is most definitely not a holiday. Kindle knows when we are hypnotised, possessed, gluttonous; knows when we consume an entire feast of words in a single sitting. Knows that others haven’t been so ravenous with a particular story, but we were, and so Kindle can intuit our special relationship with the text. It certainly knows enough to meaningfully resurface books of that ilk. It could be as simple as an email. Kindle could help foster that act of returning, of rereading. It could bring a book back from the periphery of our working library into the core, ‘into the bloodstream’, as Susan Sontag put it. And yet it doesn’t.

While the article tends to bloviate a bit on the wonders of analog books, it does make some strong points. I love my Kindles, buy one every year, and absolutely cherish the ability to buy any book any time. But the innovation simply is not there. It took forever to finally get decent typography and still it forces fully justified text in most of my books. Contrast this with the latest iBooks and you'll see a marked difference.

Readers want to be more fully engaged with the work. I want to be able to read the world's library without fear of being distracted by a tweet or work. Hopefully Amazon will learn to take advantage of throw reality.