Lots of words today throughout both the blogs and the regular media about Kindle, Amazon’s e-book reader that was launched today. It’s a testament to Amazon’s juice that anyone’s paying attention at all – e-book readers in the past have been greeted mostly by crickets.
Is it going to keep our attention? That’s harder to say. It seems that the specs are reasonably interesting – long battery life, decent (though not exceptional) storage capacity, interesting (if fussy) form factor.
Beyond that, there’s a huge differentiator – the built-in EVDO magic means that it can be a standalone device that nevertheless has very good access to a potentially very deep well of material.
The devil, however, is always in the details. To do what Amazon is doing requires pretty heavy DRM and very controlled pathways into (and out of) the device. The main comparison has been to the iPod – but there’s a huge difference (one that Gruber’s Daring Fireball also mentioned): you can’t get your own content in there. Other than high-production-value game consoles (and even those have opened up recently), can you think of a single other successful platform that has been tied to a single content supplier?
On the Internet, content may be king… but we’ve learned in the last 4 years or more that a LOT of that content is going to be my own in some way – my own writing, or at the very least, my own collection (or playlist). Along the long tail, the things that I make myself become just as important to me as the things I can buy, and curating all of that is the primary way of interacting with the long tail. If you assume that the long tail (of text) refers only to things that can be bought… I think it’s a vision of the long tail that might seem reasonable but will confound most users.
that Shelfari is a pretty darned good site, both from the perspective of someone who is interested in well-developed sites and from the perspective of a book lover.
when we learned that Leonard Cohen had been fleeced by some people who have worked for him for a long time, he has slowly but surely started to raise his profile once again. Knowing the circumstances, I haven’t heard anyone begrudge Cohen this sortie to make money, which is refreshing. Claire Crighton in Maisonneuve magazine makes a very good point in her article about Cohen, “Canadian Idol,” when she suggests that he should really be considered as a writer and poet more than as a songwriter or singer.
we went to the bookstore to browse around for new reading material and I came across Ruth Reichl’s new anthology, History in a Glass, made up of (as it is subtitled) “Sixty Years of Wine Writing from Gourmet”. I’ve been devouring it ever since – it’s a wonderful read, something you can read all at once or come back to again and again. Wine is a bit like baseball – even if you aren’t a huge aficionado, it is a subject that has always provoked wonderful writing. In both cases, as well, any human treatment of the subject invariably pokes into dusty corners of the world that are populated by amazing characters. Highly recommended!
in an announcement I put on this site to a conundrum press book launch and I find that Andy Brown’s great small press is turning 10 this year! There’s a party on Thursday, May 18 at the Mainline Theatre, 3997 St. Laurent at 8pm. They’re launching The Portable Conundrum at the party, a tenth anniversary anthology.
in the air about James Frey’s A Million Little Pieces and the fact that although it is being marketed as a memoir, which many people assume is a synonym for “autobiography”, Frey seems to have taken some liberties with the “truth”. However, when the book was first published, the following appeared in an interview with Frey:
Speaking of memoirs, are there any autobiographies or memoirs that you’re particularly fond of?
I love Charles Baudelaire. I love Celine and Henry Miller. I love Charles Bukowski and Pat Conroy and Tim O’Brien and Brett Easton Ellis. None of these guys actually wrote memoirs, but they all wrote about themselves. Though I used my real name, I consider my work in the same tradition.
I think if people are upset, they should be upset at the marketing people who convinced Frey to play along with this “nonfiction” business. They’ve likely screwed up his long-term career. On the other hand, he has seemed quite eager to play along – I don’t think anyone has put anything over on the guy.
Number of books I own:
About 2000 or so, all tolled. Packed for moving, between the two of us we have about 20 boxes. That includes cookbooks!
Last books bought:
The Collapse of Globalism and the Reinvention of the World, John Ralston Saul
Letters of Vita Sackville-West and Virginia Woolf
Last Book Read:
London: the Biography, Peter Ackroyd (non-fiction)
The System of the World, Neal Stephenson (fiction)
Five Books that Mean a Lot to Me:
The Famished Road, Ben Okri
Digital Delirium, Arthur and Marilouise Kroker, eds. (I devoted a great deal of time working on it with the editors)
Selections from the Prison Notebooks, Antonio Gramsci
In the Skin of a Lion, Michael Ondaatje
The Deptford Trilogy (Fifth Business, The Manticore, and World of Wonders), Robertson Davies
Best UnAsked Meme Question:
What is the breakdown of fiction and non-fiction in your reading habits? How do you account for this?
Tag Five People with this Meme:
AJ (West of the Expressway)
Ed (Blork blog)
Kevin (Mobtown Blues)