How many of us have ever considered replacing our rich bookshelves of paperbacks with one small digital device? How many of us have ever considered tossing our thin pages of bound paper for a small computer screen with adjustable font sizes?
I could not help but analyze the cover of my November 26th Newsweek magazine, which displays the face of Amazon.com’s CEO Jeff Bezos. Bezos holds a digital book in his hand and wears a mischievous smile as he looks into the camera. Printed across his digital book are the words, “Books aren’t dead. They’re just going digital.”
This cover page story announces the creation of the Kindle, which is a digital book that weighs only 10.3 ounces. Bezos is the mastermind behind the device, which will change the “face” of reading as we know it. The Kindle is a digital reading device that will hold up to 200 “books” on its hard drive, and additional memory cards will hold hundreds more of your favorite novels. Most impressive is the Kindle’s ability to work independent of your laptop or desktop computer. The Kindle has an Ethernet card installed in it that allows you to search and browse the web, purchase and download e-books into your digital bookshelf, and feed into your favorite blogs.
So what do we make of all of this? Hasn’t it always been a somewhat intimate experience for us book lovers to mark up our favorite paperbacks and hard covers with notes, highlights, scribbled references, and so on? Isn’t also a very comforting, familiar part of our reading routine to physically turn each page of the book we are reading? Will the digital bookshelf depersonalize the reading experience for us?
Most importantly, what will our classrooms look like when all of our students own their own Kindle or loan out their Kindle from our school library? Will this make much of a difference? -Sofia