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Follow live blogging of the Apple Tablet unveiling

January 27, 2010

Steve Jobs pretends to eat a Big Mac.

The day has finally arrived! No, Jesus has not yet returned, nor have aliens landed. But Apple will unveil its Tablet e-reader today, a device company superstar founder Steve Jobs reportedly has called “the most important thing I’ve ever done.”

Of course, everything about the Tablet is based on rumor and speculation. Jobs might actually have said, “My cat needs a bath.”

Nonetheless, the Tablet is expected to be a “game–changer” (now there’s a word that’s already worn out its welcome!). Since we’re all a-Twitter to find out details of the new gizmo, Publishers Weekly columnist Craig Morgan Teicher offers links to various blogs that will be reporting live from Apple’s annoucment event in California.

If you can’t wait a few more hours, or simply want to get in some last minute rumor-mongering, no end of reporters and commentators have weighed in these last few days on the Tablet, its likely attributes and consequences. NPR in particular is all over the story.

NPR’s Joshua Brockman reports the Tablet “must go beyond e-reading” to “create a new kind of need for consumers.” Great — more distractions from the actual practice of reading.

Speaking of built-in distractions,  nonfiction writer Eric Weiner, also at NPR, writes of the first time he ran into a reader who had his book The Geography of Bliss on a Kindle. Still, he thinks it will be impossible for traditional narrative to compete with the news feeds, hypertext, video and gossip sites only a click away on the next generation of e-readers.

Bestselling memoirist Jen Lancaster, also writing at NPR, thinks traditional books and e-readers can exist side-by-side. She loves the convenience of her Kindle, the lower cost of new titles and the millions of classics available for free. Bound books make great interior decorating motifs, she says, and they don’t explode on airplanes.

Again at NPR, Lynn Neary finds writers  even more worried about e-readers then Weiner. Electronic book distribution will alter not only the way readers read, but also the way writers write. She quotes writer Nicholas Carr: “As we move to the new technology of the screen … it has a very different effect, an almost opposite effect, and you will see a retreat from the sophistication and eloquence that characterized the printed page.”

For a typically measured assessment of the Tablet, and the impact of e-readers in general, turn to The New York Times. And Entertainment Weekly‘s Keith Staskiewicz ponders the likelihood the Tablet will give Apple the same monopoly on book, newspaper and magazine pricing and distribution that it gained in the music industry with the iPod and iTunes.

Finally, if all this brave-new-worldish speculation of digital reading technology is depressing, you can read about a happier topic at The Guardian: Euthanasia. Apparently aging enfant terrible Martin Amis has ignited a controversy in Great Britain by calling for street corner euthanasia booths for the old and infirm.

15 Comments leave one →
  1. rachel permalink
    January 27, 2010 12:28 pm

    I would rather pretend that this sort of thing wasn’t happening. But I guess that is impractical.

    At least you can laugh about it Chauncey Mabe. And since you are funny, your laughter can be contagious. I like the caption to the photo. You are getting more creative.

    Mostly the world just scares me. I don’t think that books are just good for decorating. It is a nice thing that they are so pretty and that for me it is so comforting to be surrounded by books. But I think that the reason it is so comforting is because of my attachment to them. Not just because they are pretty. (but they are). I will try to find hope for this brave new world.

  2. January 27, 2010 12:53 pm

    Amis is just trying to outdo pal and fellow no-longer-enfant terrible Hitchens … if they want to do the world a service, maybe they should advise people to floss before they get pushed out on the ice floe.

    Anyway, iTunes hardly has a lock on anything, since there are eleventy-trillion places anyone with a keyboard and wifi can download music for free. I’m a big Mac fan and all, but … YAHOO (you always have other options). I know we’re hyperventilating over all these fun toys becuz thinking about the world and its current awfulness is no fun.

    The most entertaining part, though, is that people get these gadgets and then use them just to talk about *other* gadgets.

    • Chauncey Mabe permalink*
      January 27, 2010 1:41 pm

      Eileen, to paraphrase Ecclesiastes, of the making of gadgets there is no end. Yes, yes, I know the original refers to books. Shut up.

      Digital gadgetry is like crack cocaine. Even as you take a hit, you’re already avid for the next one.

      A book satisfies. A real book, that is. Made of, you know, paper and ink. Not rare earths harvested over the bodies of murdered gorillas, destined in obsolescence to poison impoverished Chinese recyling workers.

  3. Chauncey Mabe permalink*
    January 27, 2010 12:57 pm

    Sometimes I am sitting in my livingroom and the books on the shelves (and the tables, and the floor, and the chairs) seem to breathe with the life and the power and the ideas and the people and the entire worlds to await to be discovered inside them. Compared to a bound book, an electronic reading device is a gadget. Nothing enriches the experience of living like the steady practice of immersive reading. You can’t do that with hypertxt. Or video. Or newsfeeds Bah.

  4. January 27, 2010 2:01 pm

    Books do not need to be powered by energy. They are to be powered by interest.

    (the written book vs electronic)

    • Chauncey Mabe permalink*
      January 27, 2010 3:53 pm

      Alas we live in the age of encroaching digitization. Soon enough we will all sing the body electric, literally.

  5. January 27, 2010 6:39 pm

    “Nothing enriches the experience of living like the steady practice of immersive reading”

    Spoken like an ecstatic reader, Chauncey. Here’s a quote from another, Susan Sontag:

    “[Reading] that disembodied rapture . . . is trance-like enough to make us ‘feel’ egoless…
    to write is to practice, with particular intensity and attentiveness, the art of reading.”

    Incidentally, did I ever share with you my love letter to that life-long lover of books. If not,
    here it is:

    http://www.artsandopinion.com/2009_v8_n5/labadidi-sontag.htm

    Okay, back to gaze into the souls of others in Joan Acocella’s fascinating: 22 Artists &2 Saints

  6. Chauncey Mabe permalink*
    January 27, 2010 11:15 pm

    Yahia – Always great to hear your voice, so to speak. And to be mentioned in connection with Susan Sontag is an honor of which I am not worthy. That’s a beautiful appreciation you’ve written. I’ve always felt that reading was akin to meditation, and that writing comes from the same subterranean place, far below the cacophony of conscious thought, as prayer. And I’m “against metaphor,” too. But compared to Sontag’s stentorian voice, I know I’m a pipsqueak.

  7. January 28, 2010 12:06 am

    It makes me sad and kind of sick. book will always be special to Boomer generation, our children won’t know that secret clubiness of reading. We’ll have to meet in the woods and read to one another in old age to escape the BIG BROTHER ILLUMINATI who won’t want to read a book, because after a awhile they will decide only certain kinds of books to be allowed. We will end up swallowing the pages and being interrogated under bare bulbs. Better start memorizing them.

    • Chauncey Mabe permalink*
      January 28, 2010 1:54 am

      Deborah, have you been reading Ray Bradbury again?

  8. January 28, 2010 8:12 am

    At least I will know you are in the woods. Biggggest Brother

  9. Candice Simmons permalink
    January 28, 2010 10:10 am

    I hear you, Deborah. I love Farenheit 451 too. And I am a Boomer. Still, I voted for change. So for now, I shall remain optimistic about it all. At least until 2012….

  10. January 28, 2010 11:22 am

    What you say about the presence of books is so true, Chauncey. My great (and now gone) writing teacher, Jerry Stern, agreed about their power. Having them around, being able to hold a book in your hand, somehow makes you feel better, even if (in my case) you might never actually get around to reading it.

  11. Candice Simmons permalink
    January 28, 2010 12:21 pm

    I have my books and my poetry to protect me. I am shielded in my armor.

  12. January 28, 2010 12:48 pm

    Thanks for reading me, Chauncey, and for reading. The world, filtered through your fine eyes and mind, is a more sane and exquisite experience.

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