Monday, April 5, 2010

IPads and the Tremendous Power of Book Love

Apple sold 300,000 iPads in 15 hours.

If the Pope were selling absolutions at half the cost of the e-reader (between $500 and $700, depending on how much memory you want), it might cause less of a sensation.

Those numbers are huge, bigger than expected. To give a bit of context, experts estimate that Amazon sold about 700,000 Kindles in the last two years. (We can only estimate because Amazon will not release how many it sold.) The iPad will probably match that by the end of the year.

The Kindle isn’t doomed, per se. The iPad still has some kinks (no Flash.) But it’s safe to Amazon’s hegemony has ended.

I am not one of the 300,000 people who bought an iPad Saturday, so a linked review will have to suffice.

In related news, Anna Quindlen is optimistic about reading’s backlit future. She also makes a call for the snobbing to cease amongst techies and literati.

There is and has always been more than a whiff of snobbery about lamentations that reading is doomed to extinction. That’s because they’re really judgments on human nature. If you’ve convinced yourself that America is a deeply anti-intellectual country, it must follow that we don’t read, or we read the wrong things, or we read them in the wrong fashion. And now we have gleeful e-elitism as well, the notion that the conventional product, printed and bound, is a hopeless dinosaur. Tech snobbery is every bit as silly as the literary variety. Both ignore the tremendous power of book love.

If I could, I would rename this blog The Tremendous Power of Book Love.

Moving on — Channel 4 will be tweeting Romeo and Juliet. It’s been done. Tweeting a classic is no longer the revolution it was 10 months ago.

Finally, I offer a pair of disappointing examples of censorship. Both books — The Shepherd’s Granddaughter by Anne Laurel Carter and Number the Stars by Lois Lowry — talk about the persecution of a minority. In Carter’s book, it is Palestinians; in Lowry’s, it is Jews.

The antagonistic history of the Palestinians and Jews aside, both populations have suffered. They both have been the victims of stereotypes and prejudice.

Censoring does not stop prejudice. You know what does? The Tremendous Power of Book Love.

The best way to combat bigotry is to learn about the other people. The best way to learn about them is to hear their stories. Denying children access to these stories solves nothing.

-Jason Lea,

P.S. Mentor’s Reader has returned from her hiatus. What could bring her back? One hint: Zombies...

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