Tuesday, June 02, 2009

More Alexie v. Kindle

Over at Edrants, Sherman Alexie clarifies some of his remarks from BEA about the Kindle:
I consider the Kindle elitist because it’s too expensive. I also consider it elitist because, right now, one company is making all the rules. I am also worried about Jeff Bezos’ comments about wanting to change the way we read books. That’s rather imperial. Having grown up poor, I’m also highly aware that there’s always a massive technology gap between rich and poor kids. I haven’t yet heard what Amazon plans to do about this potential technology gap. And that’s a vital question considering that Bezos wants to change the way we read books. How does he plan to change the way that poor kids read books? How does he plan to make sure that poor kids have access to the technology? Poor kids all over the country don’t have access to current textbooks, so will they have access to Kindle?

He makes some good points. I recommend reading the whole interview.

UPDATE: Alexie has agreed to meet with Amazon.


J said...

Matt --

I'm behind on this argument and I have to confess I don't know all the particulars. But I'm a little confused. Which is to say... I think I disagree?

While I am of course a proponent of universal literacy, and am not in fact a giant fan of the Kindle, I fail to see why Amazon has any responsibility to make the Kindle accessible to everyone. The book industry is just that, and attendant technologies should be beholden only to market forces. No one complained that ipods de-democratized music (as far as I know).

Further, making an e-book available on a ridiculously expensive reader is no more elitist than, say, releasing a special, leatherbound hardcover edition that costs $45. It's still going to be available in paperback.

Am I missing something here? Does Bezos have other nefarious plans?


Matt said...

I don't necessarily agree with Alexie. I do think the Kindle is too expensive--in terms of both what it does and what it means for readers. But that will work itself out. A $300 ebook reader is simply too expensive to appeal to most. I don't think either the price or the technology is cause for hysteria.

That said, I remember a lot of people complaining about the price of iPods when they first came out. I refused to buy one for year. I caved right around the time they finally introduced cheaper versions. Still, not having an iPod didn't prevent me from enjoying music, and I can't imagine the Kindle will make books less accessible to readers who can't afford one.