Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

The New Yorker Reviews the Kindle: “Buy an iPod Touch”

nicholson_baker_-_headshotNovelist Nicholson Baker, whose first book was about a man riding an escalator, and who spends a lot of time thinking and writing about the future of reading, tackles the Kindle in this week’s New Yorker. He devotes 6,219 words to the subject, and if you’ve got the time (it’s summer!), they’re worth reading.

If you’re in a rush, the takeaway is that he’s not very impressed with Amazon’s (AMZN) device, and that all things being equal, he thinks Apple’s e-reader is at least as good. He’s not talking about the yet-to-appear iTablet, of course. Like a lot of other people, he’s fond of  Apple’s (AAPL) current iPhone/iPod touch line:

Amazon, with its listmania lists and its sometimes inspired recommendations and its innumerable fascinating reviews, is very good at selling things. It isn’t so good, to date anyway, at making things. But, fortunately, if you want to read electronic books there’s another way to go. Here’s what you do. Buy an iPod Touch (it costs seventy dollars less than the Kindle 2, even after the Kindle’s price was recently cut), or buy an iPhone, and load the free “Kindle for iPod” application onto it.

Oddly, Baker doesn’t make a reference to Kindlegate, even though the story broke a couple of weeks ago. If you’re looking for a summary of where things stand on that one and have five minutes to spare, you can listen in to the chat I had with NPR’s “On the Media,” which aired over the weekend. You can hear the full show here.

One last note: I’m stepping out for a couple weeks and going semi-off the grid, so if all goes well you won’t be hearing from me till the second week of August. If all goes really well, I may even read an ink-and-paper book. Meantime there will be plenty of fresh new stuff from Walt, Kara, John and Katie over at the mothership. See you soonish.


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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work