On the Kindle bright side…
As loyal readers of Literary Transgressions are no doubt aware, I am not the biggest Kindle/e-reader fan. In fact, I’m pretty solidly opposed on primarily typographical grounds. Not to mention the wonderful smell and feeling of a book, the pleasure of turning actual pages, and the long and fascinating history of the book as a form. Something tells me you’ve heard these complaints before and often.
That all said, I recently came across a new argument for the Kindle that impressed me considerably. In short, the argument goes that because new Kindle e-books are generally the price of a regular book (the questions of “why?!” and “what am I paying for beyond the author’s cut?” remain enduring questions to be debated at another time), Kindle users turn instead to classic books that are outside of copyright and free on the Kindle. Thus, the Kindle fosters a classic literature renaissance among its users. Brilliant!
While I suppose it is somewhat disheartening to look at this from the perspective of people’s economic considerations outweighing their having an opinion about what to read (as in, “heck, I’ll just read whatever’s free!”), I think it is actually a much more positive thing than that. Public schools, in my opinion, have been slaughtering classic literature for generations now by attempting to force an appreciation of the classics on their students. You can’t hurry love and you certainly can’t make people like or appreciate a book simply because it is dubbed “good literature.” The idea the Kindle is a) creating a second opportunity to enjoy the classics for those people who hated them in school, b) is making these sorts of texts easily available (more easily than those still within copyright, actually), and c) is turning classic literature in a technologically hip/desirable commodity is one which I find quite laudable.
So even though I’m still not going to get myself a Kindle anytime soon, at least I can definitely appreciate the new and exciting ways in which Kindle is influencing what is read by its users. I’m really enthused about the idea of someone picking up a random out-of-copyright text and surprisingly enjoying it, all thanks to the economics of Kindle e-books.