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« Rep. John Murtha: ‘If I’m corrupt, it’s because I take care of my district’ | Main | Europe again tries to sit out a crisis »

March 31, 2009



My number one concern is electronic alteration of the book. When I buy a physical book, it is finished, complete - not alterable in any sense. It is evidence of a thought as it existed once and always. If a book is only electronic, how do I know that its never been altered by the powers to be? Kindle is on an electron device - and if that device needs to be updated or fixed - I need to re-download the books. How do I know its the same book with the same information. Can someone find a way to hack or alter the information? I plan to buy a Kindle, but this is a concern to me.

Frank Warner

That's a good point.

The same is true of newspapers. In print, you know you're looking at exactly the same thing that other print subscribers are reading. Online, those stories can change from one minute to the next.

Electronically, we might get nice updates, but we lose the certainty of a shared experience.


When the Kindle2 drops in price to about $100, we're getting one. At $350, it makes little sense to my cheap eyes.

I'm less worried than Frank and Barb about the editing of the text. Every time they do a reprint of a book, the text is changed a little (at the least adding a new forward), and that's never been a problem before. It's mostly fixing typos or correcting errors. But I don't discount it. With Obama's replacement of pc speak with newspeak, you guys might be right.

David Holliday

I downloaded the free Kindle app to my iPhone and its great. I use it a lot. I was never all that excited about it before I got it. I downloaded it on a whim just curious what it would be like. When I got it I finally figured out what it’s all about. It's not really about the reader. It's about the utter convenience of having a book with you (actually it could be a whole ton of books) anywhere you go along. Additionally almost any book you don't have you can get within a couple of minutes. It's totally cool.

Frank Warner

Wow. I don't have one yet. But I have the feeling almost everyone will have one within two years.

jj mollo

For some older people the sheer physical size and mass of a book can be daunting. Pages keep getting thicker and books keep getting heavier. The large-print editions don't help matters in that regard. The Kindle, one hopes, will keep getting smaller.

The problem of content integrity can be easily handled with large data sets. Computers do that sort of thing very well. The question is whether the providers will give you any kind of validation app. I've often thought that they could do the same thing with digital images if they wanted to, tying a camera's id number and time stamp into the encoded data. It would make it very difficult to pass off a photoshop job as an original. Why don't they do this? I'm guessing people really don't care enough to provide the necessary demand.

jj mollo

For me the benefit would be that it might tame my hoarding tendencies. I like books as objects, but I could easily live without the crinkling pages, the look and feel of a well-printed book. The thing I can never bear to part with is the content. If I could get it all on a trustworthy electronic form, I'd give up the dead trees in a minute.

Frank Warner

You're probably right, JJ. But old habits die hard. You've probably noticed, people even go to war over old dumb habits, just because they want their kids to see and feel the old dumb rituals.

I'll feel an irrational loss that the next generation rarely will touch those old paper pages, but if they learn more and do something good with what they learn from electronic books, so much the better.

Then again, I also have an uneasy feeling that too many graceful buildings of wood, brick and stone are being replaced by sterile structures of steel, plastic and glass. I'm more convinced we really are losing something there.


I understand that you can adjust the text size on a kindle (like you can on this blog by pressing + or -). That's pretty good news for those of us whose eyes have begun to go south but are too lazy to go to an eye doctor for glasses.

Three hundred fifty dollars though... :(

jj mollo

If you read enough books, the three-fifty will pay for itself. eBooks are cheaper than treeBooks. I'm waiting for the technology to sort itself out.

Frank, I share your foreshadowed nostalgia. I'm also nostalgic for the days when horses pulled trolleys in Philadelphia. My grandfather told me, though, that the streets are a lot cleaner these days. The air is cleaner too, so I guess I'll try to forget about steam locomotives and coal furnaces as well. Change is always losses and gains. I wish I could talk it over with Ben Franklin. Maybe he'd have some good advice for us.

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