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Kindle

Posted on August 28, 2011

Kindle

Help, I need a Kindle

For my books are on a spindle

Meticulously stacked on a shelve

So neat, it must have been the work of an elf

However these are the modern times

Where the bell not tolls but chimes

I doubt any elf rhymes

While dusting books in vintage soukhs

For the kind Kindle

Stacking books on a spindle

Hinders the elf

While dusting the shelve

Last edited by alternativebe on August 29, 2011, 1:52 am


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5 responses to “Kindle”

  1. I read your poem, and, as poems do, it started me thinking. Then I thought some more. And pretty soon, my tiny mind had soared off into some strange place, where only I exists. And it’s all your fault. Of course.

    Photo by Quapan

    Kindle.
    Yuk.
    I have one.
    Oh, I can’t deny it’s convenience. And the search function. I use that a lot, especially on Economics and History text books. Punch in a phrase, an event, and it instantly flashes up all relevant quotes. Pretty awesome. The combined works of Charles Dickens, everything he has ever written, everything, the whole she-bang, todo, alles, tous, the frickin’ LOT… for two dollars. Dollars. Two. Wow…

    But.

    It’s such an impersonal device. Following the old ways, after you have finished a good book, you can place it thoughtfully and lovingly on a special section of the shelf. Once in a while, you can take it down, and look up a reference, or a quote, the old fashioned way, thumbing through the pages.
    Books are different. Big ones, fat ones, slim ones, tall ones, short asses and floppy covers. Grey, drab covered books, and brightly colored Rainbow covered books.
    By their cover you shall know them. You can recognize your book on the shelf, by the tattered binding, or the author’s name in big elephant letters.

    Kindle reduces a classic book to a hob-glob of miscellaneous binary digits stored on some massive server somewhere. I resent that. I can’t go to that room, and lovingly run my fingers along the outside of that soul-less computer. I can’t commune quietly, lost in space, my book on my knees, gazing into the distance, pondering the author’s words.

    Yes, we have gained something with the advent of Kindle. And lost something as well.  For me, I pick up my Kindle without the same reverence as with which I pick up a good book. I punch the buttons coldly. I charge the batteries with indifference. I dump it in my case like just another used pair of socks.

    Perhaps, also, I feel threatened by it. Some how, if I ever managed to get a book published (which I think is an unlikely event), then I would have the possibility of -one day- holding in my hands a piece of me. A piece of my mind, heart and soul. Something I could give to my children, who would smile sweetly, humor me, and probably file and forget it. But the hope would exist, that in several generations time, one of my great-great descendants, WOULD find that book, that essential piece of me, and delve into it. And find, to his or her joy, an essential piece of their great-great-grandfather, intact, fresh, as welcoming to them as a bear hug from me.

    Kindle undermines that vanity, and sullies that dream. With Kindle, the uniqueness is lost. With Kindle, all the writings of the Universe are a click and a digital credit card transfer away. With Kindle, I am confronted with something uncomfortable that I know to be true, but I prefer to ignore. Or at least not dwell upon.

    I know the combined weight of all human writing, thought and research available in digital form, amounts to Quadri-zillion terry bytes of binary information stored on faceless computers in anonymous, climate controlled rooms. I know that the best output I could ever hope to achieve is an infinitesimal, paltry, misshapen poor handful of digital bytes. I know that. But I liked the illusion.

    I liked the illusion, that I could make a small difference. That maybe, just maybe, one day, somebody would hold a small piece of my mind in their hands. Or balance me on their knees, swinging softly and thoughtfully in an old fashioned hammock, towards evening, on their front porch.  That somebody, in a few generations time, would gaze into the setting sun, and quietly ponder Age old truths, that I also pondered, in my own way, in my little book.

    Kindle mocks that dream, and forces me to confront my smallness and insignificance, on the Cosmic Scale of events. It would take a modern desk top computer, never mind a web super computer, approximately one trillionth of a micro second to spit out, deliver, serve, transmit, the entire sum total of all my little scribblings, ever concocted. It places a binary value on me, and a barely existent, low one at that.  

    I think we should burn all Kindles.

  2. I loved your poem!  How interesting I’ve been toying with the idea of getting a Kindle over the last 2 months.  I have an iPad and I purchase books from Kobo.  But I realized iPad is heavy to carry around in my handbags, and so I thought Kindle is just perfect. It’s light-weight, small, thin and sleek- looking.  Why not?

    To Francis, no..please don’t burn all Kindles yet.  Not until I try one of them!

    QuoteI liked the illusion, that I could make a small difference. That maybe, just maybe, one day, somebody would hold a small piece of my mind in their hands. Or balance me on their knees, swinging softly and thoughtfully in an old fashioned hammock, towards evening, on their front porch.  That somebody, in a few generations time, would gaze into the setting sun, and quietly ponder Age old truths, that I also pondered, in my own way, in my little book.

    I love what you said here.  What a beautiful scenario.  Inspiring!
    But may I say this: You could also hold, balance, swing or rock the little Kindle during those special and quiet moments just the same

  3. Adelene… I don’t want to be rocked in a fu-fu- Kindle!

    Now you are relegating me to an amorphous, invisible, tiddley bunch of digital bytes again. Stuffed inside a boring, mass produced, plastic box.
    Can’t I dream of being wrapped in a colorful binder, made from real trees, with dog-eared, well worn pages testifying to my timeless literary pizzaz?

    It’s a nice dream. I’m sticking to it. You can go rock your mega bytes..

  4. Thank you both for your interesting comments.

    First of all my relationship with e-books is one that can be described as a love-hate relationship.
    I love reading old fashioned books. I like the way a book feels and smells when you are holding it, when you are reading it.
    On the other hand, some of my writer friends have published or are thinking about publishing e-books …
    I have downloaded e-books on my pc. I get concentration problems when reading online for a long time. The screen tires my eyes.

    When I first started writing this poem I wanted to start off with a sentence stating that a Kindle (or any other similar device) would be a good idea… I wanted to end the poem on the note that I would miss handling and even dusting books…

    I am aware of the fact that this is not the clearest of my writings. I needed some feed back, because I felt there were some glitches in this poem!

    For me it is back to the writing board now!

  5. Well, joking aside (ha-ha), the world is changing in front of our eyes. E-publishing certainly makes the process of publishing much more democratic, and is available to everybody.
    The flip side is that so much garbage appears, that is really disappointing to buy. I have read glowing reviews of e-work on Amazon, but when I bought the books concerned, I quickly realized this was a case of a small clique of writers five starring each other into low earth orbit. The books were a waste of time and money.

    Having said that, e publishing is here to stay. One program is called "Blurb" and is a way of publishing your own book. However, merely publishing it will not sell it.  Exactly how such self produced e-works will be rated and evaluated is unclear to me, especially given the observable presence of groups of writers, who "help" each other by heaping absurdly lavish praise on truly mediocre work.

    For e-publications to really succeed, you will need a method of honest appraisal. If you cut out the publisher, who would normally be looking at what you do with a cynical "profit and loss" weather eye, then you cut out one source of cold analysis.

    I’m not saying e-publishing will not work, but I don’t yet see a TRUSTWORTHY method of evaluation. Too many people trying to fix the market, by means of dubious, unscrupulous, borderline totally dishonest ploys.

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