The Digital Bookshelf

 

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 

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7 Comments

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7 responses to “The Digital Bookshelf

  1. jillian24

    I have to say I’m not very excited about the prospect of phasing out my favorite pasttime and replacing it with this “easy access” digital book. Still, imagine how this will change what books we choose to teach. No more tiny budgets demanding that we teach the same class sets year after year. Now, that sounds good.

    Jillian

  2. allison

    This is an interesting trend, but I doubt it will happen. One of my professors always used to cite a study that found people dislike reading an article that’s more than two typed pages on a computer screen. I believe it, because I’m one of those people. What about everyone else? Does anyone read pages and pages of a book or article online?

  3. jexter1

    What a peculiar, yet useful invention! For the purpose of carrying multiple “books” at once, Kindle is ideal. During vacations, students are assigned to read more than one book while they are traveling to family, vacation spots, etc. This “digital bookshelf” would make the transportation of such books easy!

    I have one problem with such an innovative, technologically advanced source for reading. The act of staring at a screen for an extended period of time, hours even, could be detrimental to the health of the reader… headaches, sore, burning eyes and possibly even vision problems. Also, we don’t want these young readers to depend on digital reading, because it could make it difficult for them to be comfortable and cooperative with traditional reading.

    ~Jessica

  4. Ray

    You know, Kindle is not a new thing. This is, by far, the most impressive eBook, but it is definitely not the first. There are a couple of problems with the eBook, but one of them is not the case of staring at a screen for too long. Kindle has an interface not unlike the page of a book; it has been completely innovated to NOT resemble a computer screen.

    The problems, though: The cost: $400 is a lot for a still beta version. The internet: it’s cool that you can get mobile internet for free, but c’mon… aren’t we past this already. Dr. Reid wrote on his blog that it would be a useful device if we could access high-speed internet for free, but he’s right when he says that it “missed the mark.”

    Still this is where we’re heading, and Kindle is getting some seriously positive reviews. Who knows what could happen!

  5. jmdegan

    I’m depressed. A future without books (the physical, tangible, printed object with its distinctive size and weight and smell) is no future I would ever want to see.

    I guess I just don’t get the e-book idea. What makes the e-book format preferable to a book? Is it just because we can do it? I don’t know how to explain it, but digital text just strikes me as cold.

    J. Degan

  6. jmdegan

    PS- has anyone read M. T. Anderson’s FEED?

  7. ll123

    The eBook idea is wonderful, mostly for its convenience. However, I kind of feel it can take away my personal connection with my favorite book, for example, I like to be able to underline a book that belongs to me, and I can re-read the underlined parts later. How can I do it when I only have a e-book. Posted by L. L.

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