The emergence of an Kindle Fire fulfilled a half-prophecy of mine: that it won’t be enough for consumers to have an e-reader that just displays book/document texts. Consumers will want to do a bunch of other things after breezing through the chapters of the latest Wizard Vampire Dragon Tattoo “sleeper”, and since functionality creep is an inevitability with popular gadgets the Fire’s arrival wasn’t a risky prediction.
It’s true that you could always read books on tablets, but the Fire is significant because it’s breaking open functionality on something that was formerly just meant for reading. It’s great that demand is being filled but what’s the use of e-readers if it ends up being just another tablet? It’s much harder to make that mistake with a book. There’s only a limited function set you can do with bound paper and ink, but with digital devices you can see and do nearly anything. There’s no mistaking a book for something else but with smartphone technology you’ll get anything.
Fahrenheit 451 predicted a lot of things accurately but one thing I think Bradbury missed. Book, before they were outlawed for being “confusing”, got dumbed down first. They won’t need to be dumbed down, you just need to have other forms of easy entertainment else available and books will become too tedious*.
Photo by RLHyde.
* I’m not poo-pooing e-readers at all and I don’t think they will destroy books, either digital or physical, like they did in Bradbury’s universe. I’m just pointing out the potential pitfalls of the technology that previously were not there with physical books. Maybe I shouldn’t make this disclaimer a footnote.