May 30, 2009
BEA is going well except our author Brendan Constantine’s books got stolen. What the heck is that? That boy is getting too popular. I wonder if he sent spies to NY to swoop in and take Letters to Guns. BEA is considerably smaller this year. No FSG, Greywolf or Copper Canyon. No St. Martins. But there is still a lot of excitement and the place seems packed and overwhelming. There is no real presence for Kindle here. Kindle doesn’t work for people who like books, just like blow up dolls don’t work for men who like women and robots don’t work for men who like men. If a Kindle could replace a book, then couldn’t a vibrator replace a man? I mean really, we women don’t need men to help us make money. We can do that ourselves. But some of us like them. They’re funny. At least mine is. So back to books.
Books are the real thing, an interchange between the self and the world of ideas. You ask me why Kindle couldn’t work? Well, the book is an artifact that carries weight in the world of ideas. Kindle is a plastic thingamajig that holds its little plastic words tightly. No flow. If you could give up drinking beer out of a bottle and plug your finger into a little beer node and feel a little buzz afterward, would you?
I’m drinking a beer right now. Out of a bottle. And thinking. What about you?
Kindle… Here’s the basic problem. You’re thinking, Oh Kate, you’re the editor of a publishing company, that’s why you think this Kindle thing is garbage. Here’s the deal. Music has been around for many years, only you had to know someone who made music or know how to make it yourself. Then 100 years or so, we get recorded music. Recorded music allowed more people to hear the same music. In your little New Hampshire shack you could hear… voila, Louis Armstrong play jazz. It wouldn’t be the same as hearing him in person, but still, for millions of people, listening to music was pretty damn good. The means of delivery for recorded has had three locations ever since you could play it on a person transistor radio. 1. You have the personal private experience. 2. You had the private experience of listening to it in your home. 3. You could play music publicly and have the collective experience of listening to it with others.
The IPOD of course allows for all three. You can run through Battery Park listening to music no one else can hear. You can play it at home and you can play it in public at a wedding. The delivery of the music isn’t as important as the music itself. We survived vinyls, 8 tracks, tapes, CD’s and now we’re all enjoying our IPODS.
Okay, so right now, 1 % of the book business is electronic. That’s not exactly a large part of the market. That’s like asking how many kids want to have a picture their parents at a nudist colony for Christmas. Sure, there’s a small percentage, but it’s an odd little percentage, pretty much what you might call the fruitcake percentage. I’m not saying you’re a fruitcake or that you want to see your parents naked if you own a Kindle. I know it sounds like that, but that’s not my real point here. My real point is that the tiny percentage of Kindle users are pretty much earning their freak points.
Okay, you’re wondering what to do if you are in the Kindle business or own some Kindle stock. Sell ‘em, dump ‘em, walk away. Now, here’s why. A book is the personal IPOD experience. You get to hold the artifact and have the experience of choosing what you’re going to read and then you interact in an engaged fashion with an artifact and you participate in the exchange of ideas and the imagination. Now, Kate, you say, that same experience is possible with the Kindle. Isn’t it? No. Again… back to my beer example. Pretend you’re in Brazil. You don’t have to actually eat food, drink whiskey or beer, or have sex. You can just plug your finger into a hole and get the beer feeling or the whiskey feeling, (for whiskey you press 2), and if you’re hungry you can hit number 3 or 4 for turkey or steak sandwich, and you get the full feeling. You’re saying, Oh, Kate, get over yourself. You do read a Kindle. No, a Kindle isn’t a book. It’s a Vibrator. End of story.
P.S. Ok Kate, you’re saying, have you ever tried a Vibrator? Yes. Once. Then I threw it away. And reached for a person. A boy or a girl. I can’t remember. It was a while ago.
Off to the CLMP party at Housing Works. Should be fun. Fun party with a lot of people. Got very noisy and we split. Had a drink with Nancy and Naseem. They have to be up at 4:30 am to fly home so we split and wandered. I see that there are people in NY crazy about PinkBerry too. Why? It must feel like a party in their mouth, like fun on the tongue. Ah sleep, so underrated.