Anthony Grafton

Lukewarm Kindling

Anthony Grafton on the Kindle, which he loves but describes as “reading free of visual delight”:

Open an old-fashioned book — a book published by Zone this year, or, even better, by Alfred A. Knopf thirty or forty years ago, or, better still, one printed by Aldo Manuzio a few hundred years before that — and you enter a Gesamtkunstwerk. Traditionally, the typography and layout and illustrations of properly printed books were chosen by intelligent people to complement the text. A number of publishers still treat design as integral part of a book. Kindle does not. … Kindle cannot replicate, for example, the physical pleasure inspired by the feel of Knopf’s beloved deckle edges and the look of his preferred Granjon type.

[snip]

I suspect that the Kindle will prove to be the Betamax to some other company’s VHS (perhaps the legendary Apple tablet, with a Kindle reader built in?). Meantime, though, I am pleased to have it — and happy to think the reassuring thought that, endlessly inventive monkeys as we are, we will find ways to make the new media as rich and strange and complex as the old ones.

Read the whole thing here (PDF, subscription required).

Categories: Publishing    Tags: · · ·