Does the Kindle Set Fire to Books?

December 23, 2008 by Thad McIlroy

Gosh am I slow on the uptake! Here I am in an unseasonably cold Vancouver, BC winter, each night placing kindling under the larger fire logs to ensure they’ll ignite. I just looked for a definition of kindle and find “kindled – ignited: set afire; ‘the ignited paper’; ‘a kindled fire.'”

So is that the story, Mr. Jeff Bezos at Amazon.com? Your Kindle is designed so that we might use our printed books as kindling to get our fireplaces roaring, and your sales roaring at a similar pace?

Somehow this all came to mind as I began reading the marvelous “The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary.

It’s a very fine book, not just as a narrative, but as an example of “book as book.” Even in paperback it contains a preface, a postscript, an author’s note, acknowledgments and a very informed “Suggestions for Further Reading.”

The colophon informs that it was set in three typefaces. I ordinarily rail against the use of multiple typefaces in books primarily of text, yet this volume uses the three faces very effectively. It also includes a modicum of informative and amusing line-drawings.

There is not as yet a Kindle version available. I’m not surprised.

OK: I’m still a curmudgeon on e-books. Buy this book, and hold it in your hands. Get an electronic version when it becomes available. Then ask yourself: Which version do I most enjoy?

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