Beyond the Printed Page: Kindling a New Thesis

Pages: 4 (1430 words)  ·  Style: MLA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 5  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Literature

¶ … beyond the printed page: Kindling a new future or a Fahrenheit 451?

Are books dead? The question seems fantastic, on the surface. However, once upon a time, the idea that the vulgate Bible, moveable type, or the printing press would revolutionize reading was sneered at by naysayers. Many literary mediums that seem antique today -- like Dickensian novels published as a series of three part books, the penny press, subscription libraries, and encyclopedias -- were supposed to last forever. The increasing popularity of Amazon's Kindle reader may someday spell the death-knell for conventional print. "Technology," said one computer engineer, "is anything that was invented after you were born" (Levy 2007).

When e-books were first introduced on the World Wide Web almost inevitably they were mocked because of the difficulty of reading from a screen. Most of the books were classics released into the public domain by authors, or small, relatively obscure and limited release e-books. Printing these books out was an arduous task, but frequently necessary, to ensure that reading material would be portable. Hauling a clunky laptop to read an entire, lengthy book was almost impossible, and it was impossible to change position to 'get comfortable' when reading a computer screen, or to read in bed. Moreover, for non-public domain texts, e-books had to be downloaded online in a password-protected environment through paid file transfers and then viewed with an applicable e-book reader software program (e-book overview, e-book fanatic, 2007). For many readers, it was less of a hassle to simply go to the library to read for free.

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However, the more user-friendly Amazon Kindle changed the e-book world forever. Although some mocked the first Kindle's rather clunky, 1970s design, the new version is sleeker and more user-friendly. While its "gloomy grayscale outlook" still "leaves much to be desired -- especially in this flashy, look at my graphics world" engineers believe that soon colored e-book 'paper' will be possible on monitors like the Kindle or Sony Reader, with 80% resolution (Hodgin 2009). Perhaps graphic images will even change as the reader peruses the text, to illustrate what is being read (Hodgin 2009).

TOPIC: Thesis on Beyond the Printed Page: Kindling a New Assignment

When the Kindle was first released, many protested that people would be loath to give up the medium of the printed world. But cleverly, the Kindle was designed to specifically circumvent such "Luddite' sentiments. Although its newer incarnation is larger, it was initially designed to possess the dimensions and design of a paperback. Unlike a laptop, it does not get hot and is light enough to be comfortably held in bed. It is durable enough, unlike a laptop, to be thrust into a backpack and read on vacation. Because of a new technology known as 'e ink,' its screen is just as clear as a high-quality printed book, and unlike a paper book, readers can adjust the font -- no need to wait for the large print version (Levy 2007). "To soothe the anxieties of print-culture stalwarts, in sleep mode the Kindle displays retro images of ancient texts, early printing presses and beloved authors like Emily Dickinson and Jane Austen" (Levy 2007).

However, there are other concerns the Kindle raises about the future of print. Firstly, by definition it creates a kind of enclosed 'body of knowledge' that all literate individuals are supposed to want to read. The Kindle does not offer all books in print, thus creating a kind of heightened preference for the available authors and texts. For someone who relies upon the Kindle, this could mean that he or she is denied the pleasure of discovering a little-known gem by accident. Also, it could make it more difficult for new, innovative, and untested authors to break into the literary scene in a Kindle-dependant world, given that devotees of the Kindle are likely to gravitate towards books that they can download upon this new, expensive 'toy.'

Technology, one could argue is not necessarily bad for new writers. True, new authors now have the medium of blogs to disseminate their words. But blogs, unlike books (electronic or otherwise) are read largely for free. Thus, paid, professional new authors could face two forms of grueling competition -- those established authors on the Kindle, and the unprofessional free press in the blog-o-sphere. The Kindle is, despite its revolutionary quality ultimately a… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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