Embracing the death of print

Amazon’s Kindle 2 is the indicator of a mummified and dead print media, and that’s good.

It always seems like such a tragedy nowadays to think of print as dying. And when I think about it more, the situation quickly becomes all too real âÄîprint is already dead. ItâÄôs just being mummified now. WeâÄôve salted the books, newspapers and magazines with natron for rot prevention. WeâÄôve anthologized their organs in canopic jars released every couple of months. WeâÄôve dropped them in copyrighted sarcophaguses and given them the gold plates that weâÄôve always reserved for Dante, Shakespeare and Homer. Even Stephanie Meyer, an author of pubescent vampire fantasy romance, gets gold plates. Print is the modern worldâÄôs dynamo, and being that it has garnered much reverence. But not everyone understands this reverence; even now, my friend just told me that reading is something he does when thereâÄôs nothing else to do âÄî not saying that he doesnâÄôt appreciate the authorâÄôs art. Literacy is like french fries to Americans. The advent of Internet has spawned a generation of free literature over a seemingly infinite span of space. Everything in print is so, so, so easy to acquire âÄî yet, to some, it is not worth the effort anymore. After all, would you want to see the golden sarcophagus of an ancient king if it were on sale every day at Target, or if you are able to Google it? And perhaps this is what we struggle with as we look upon books today: How can we appreciate something when it has become so available? Amazon just released Kindle 2 , the next version of the eBook. ItâÄôs lighter than a paperback. Thick as a pencil. White like porcelain. It holds more than 1,500 books, plus access to top newspapers, magazines and blogs. It reads like real paper with 16 shades of gray for crisper images. Page-turning is 20 percent faster than the Kindle 1. It downloads books for $9.99 and less, and it does it in less than 60 seconds. Further, it offers a 3G wireless network for high-speed downloads anytime anywhere for free without service plans or hunting for Wi-Fi hotspots. IâÄôm calling it right now âÄî this has to be the future. Or at least it should be. I doubt we will ever be able to let go of the printed copy, since we, collectively, need the printed word as a security blanket and firm rock in a world that is becoming increasingly invisible (for instance, I havenâÄôt handled paper money in a month). The Kindle 2 is a step âÄîperhaps the first of many âÄî in the grandiose path of consolidation and unity. It seems like humanity is bent on this path, on the master equation, on lifeâÄôs goal in personal heaven, the all-encompassing theory, or the perpetual motion machine. Romantically, the Kindle 2 is transcendent of our old material selves; practically, in a world of stuff, it makes sense to save resources and put it into one tiny tablet. We find ourselves in bed between a mummy and an invisible thing in terms of our literacy. The mummy is the past lover and dead âÄî but thatâÄôs never true. The mummy is so clogged with our lives that it is hard to define or move ourselves without it. To our other side, it seems like the invisibility is devoid of meaning and insensitive. But maybe we just are scared of a new relationship and placing form in something that is so amorphous. Inch by inch, weâÄôre going to move closer to our new acquaintance âÄî but the old will always be there with us. It lies for us to get the most from our situation, and what to do next. Matt Grimley welcomes comments at [email protected]