Kindle Konfusion

Yeah, I got my hands on a real-life Amazon Kindle e-book reader for a few minutes. Did I “feel the power”? Hell no. The physical packaging reminds me of the Coleco Adam. I tried to read a story by P. G. Wodehouse and I felt like I was playing Pong.

The physical button interface is clumsy, but my main gripe with the Kindle has to do with market strategy: I believe Amazon should sell electronic books that play on a wide variety of popular devices, not a single overpriced dedicated device. When I first wrote on LitKicks that e-books won’t succeed until we can read them on iPhones and Blackberries, several of you disagreed, but I think the success of a new iPhone reader called the Stanza is proving me right.

This leaves me, though, with a problem. I was originally going to get an iPhone but I didn’t want to switch carriers or set my alarm clock to wait in line at the Apple Store, so I never got an iPhone. Instead, I’m rocking a Verizon LG Dare which is basically an iPhone wannabe, and I like the phone fine except it won’t run Stanza. I hope the folks at Lexcycle are working on a few non-iPhone ports please …

2. Check out Tina Brown’s The Daily Beast, which features worthy contributors like Maud Newton and Rachel Maddow. At first glance the Beast appears to want to be an East coast version of Huffington Post, and since I like the Huff, I think that’s just fine. The site will need to shake out a few tech things — can we have author names in the RSS feed, please? — but it appears to be off to a great start.

3. Andrew Gallix at the Guardian asks: whatever happened to the creative potential of digital literature? Good question. I have a bit to say about this, but it will wait for a post of its own.

4. While we’re talking tech, I haven’t had a chance to check Google’s Book API out but I have a feeling this idea has long term potential.

5. Bat Segundo goes the distance in a feisty interview with the great film director Mike Leigh, whose latest character study is called Happy Go Lucky.

6. Bill Ectric interviews Ekaterina Sedia, author of the novel The Secret History of Moscow.

7. A linguistic study of Blog Speak (via Sully)

8. Tina Fey is writing a book! Will she reach the heights of other truly literary comedian-humorists like Groucho Marx, Robert Benchley, Woody Allen and Steve Martin? Well, she hasn’t let us down yet.

9. Heaven-Sent Leaf is a new book of poetry by Katy Lederer, author of Poker Face. Poker and poetry have been a good combination since, at least, A. Alvarez.

10. A YouTube recording of a true castrato. Quite disturbing to listen to. Click through and you’ll see what I mean.

11. I didn’t get much of a response, folks, to my probing questions about Henry David Thoreau and the economy. Let’s yak it up in the outfield, people! Really. I didn’t think you were the types to get scared away by classic literature so easily (I know you can yak it up plenty when the topic is, say, Sarah Palin). So, the next round in our “Big Thinking” series will be about our public political dialogue, and our special guest writer will be Ludwig Wittgenstein. Tune in tomorrow evening when the fun begins.

13 Responses

  1. Not much of a comment… but
    Not much of a comment… but liked that piece on Walden. Motivated me to reread it and give serious thought to why he wrote it.

    I have a stone… gneisses, dark gray with with light striations of quartzite, from Walden Pond. Sits on my desk as a paper weight. Picked it up many years ago on one of my few trips to Boston and vicinity.

  2. That Guardian article just
    That Guardian article just made me annoyed. Cockamamie stuff.

    There’s no such thing as e-lit.

    Maybe he can do an article on r-lit — stuff printed on recycled paper.

    That r-lit never panned out, even though I thought it would be great.

    But b-lit — books with blue covers — now that is a genre that has really proven itself.

    TP lit never held together enough to get a toe-hold, as it were. That was probably a dumb trend.

    bb-lit, storys written in berry juice on bellys — that has a chance to take off big IMHO.

    I’m putting all my stock in that one.

  3. I’ll never forget my first
    I’ll never forget my first computer, a TRS-80 from Radio Shack. Cassette tapes instead of disks. Always running out of memory. But back then, I thought it was great.

    What more can I say about Thoreau? He is one of my all-time favorite writers. Well, there is this: Even Thoreau needed a backer. Walden Pond and the surrounding land where Thoreau built his cabin were, of course, owned by Ralph Waldo Emerson. Still, I really like Thoreau’s philosophy that, “Man is rich in proportion to the things that he can afford to let alone.”

    I’m going to lay low all day. Sarah Palin is coming to give a speech. Downtown Jacksonville is overrun by simpletons, gun nuts, slack-jawed yokels, and Baptists. It’s a hell of a thing and I want no part of it.

  4. Rachel Maddow thinks she’s
    Rachel Maddow thinks she’s Wally Cleaver. Nah. I can see her w/ long hair.

    Huffington’s Right is Wrong. Initially, I thought it was going to be a gabfest. I should’ve known better.

  5. I noticed that the e-lit
    I noticed that the e-lit article doesn’t say anything about the print-on-demand books. The last book I read that was supposed to be innovative was the novel Was and its story line was very confusing to me.
    As for politics in literature, I think of The Prince, All the King’s Men–I saw the Sean Penn movie, 1984 and Animal Farm, Sinclair Lewis, and the Progressive muckrakers. I thought the high point was Woodward and Bernstein’s Watergate book.

  6. I, too, wanted to avoid all
    I, too, wanted to avoid all the iPhone hassles, so I just half-assed it and got the iPod Touch. I really don’t mind carrying a phone and an iPod. I’m easy like that.

    Anyway, with the new iPod/Phone apps on iTunes, you can download books right to your iPod (is it obvious I work as a writer in advertising?). There are quite a few titles. Didn’t get through them all but “Ulysses” and “On The Road” were available.

    Personally, I don’t like “reading” long-format pieces on a screen or monitor. When it comes to books, I will always prefer the printed page. Magazines and newspapers? That’s another story.

  7. Thanks for your comment 3
    Thanks for your comment 3 AM

    The Guardian article was a bunch of claptrap.

    Simplistic attempts at shallow and superficial labeling.

    There is no such thing as e-lit.

    There is literature, period.

    Write it in the dirt with your finger or on a computer or on paper, etc…

    It is literature.

    Medium is not the message.

    Method of distribution does not confer any literary merit or classification.

    There is e-publishing — that makes sense.

    e-lit is descriptive only as far as method of delivery (ie publishing and distribution) is concerned.

    Buzzwords and gimmicks excite the trendoids and diletantes, OK.

    Got to have a marketing hook, but it is really neither here nor there.

    You, 3AM, for example may be publishing great literature.

    It would be great if it were later printed out.

    In 100 years it would be great — if it is great — if the tech at that time is to beam it directly in to the brain via neural stimulation.

    Electronic publishing is a great equalizer of the playing field and a great advance and boon for the average person.

    But publishing anything in a particular manner doesn’t make it a genre.

  8. Thanks Bill. The point is at
    Thanks Bill. The point is at the top of my head.

    Andrew, I hadn’t noticed I had to pleasure of addressing the writer of the Guardian piece.

    I like “elit” as in internet publishing. It is a great equalizer. Anyone can be a publisher and have worldwide distribution.

    It’s a true do-it-yourself ethos and the cream can rise to the top.

    I guess you are saying not much cream is around to rise.

    I think the greatest elit is probably largely unknown. There are ad hoc masterpieces on discussion boards, long since deleted or forgotten.

    Years ago I saw an incredibly surrealistic and funny piece made up of multiple sequential posts to a board on the ostensible topic of discussing the Dodgers.

    I wish I’d saved it. It was so absurd and funny and totally ad hoc.

    It’s gone forever now…perhaps. But I remember thinking that that was actually a new form of literature only possible due to the internet — it was almost performance art in its own way.

    Back to bed.

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