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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Reading Experience 'Shattered by the Presence of a Mob'

Reading Experience 'Shattered by the Presence of a Mob'

"I'm reading a new book I downloaded on my Kindle and I noticed an underlined passage. It is surely a mistake, I think. This is a new book. I don't know about you, but I always hated underlined passages in used books.... And then I discovered that the horror doesn't stop with the unwelcomed presence of another reader who's defaced my new book. But it deepens with something called view popular highlights, which will tell you how many morons have underlined before so that not only you do not own the new book you paid for, the entire experience of reading is shattered by the presence of a mob that agitates inside your text like strangers in a train station.

"So now you can add to the ease of downloading an e-book the end of the illusion that it is your book. The end of the privileged relation between yourself and your book. And a certainty that you've been had. Not only is the e-book not yours to be with alone, it is shared at Amazon which shares with you what it knows about you reading and the readings of others. And lets you know that you are what you underline, which is only a number in a mass of popular views.... Conformism does come of age in the most private of peaceful activities--reading a book, one of the last solitary pleasures in a world full of prompts to behave. My Kindle, sugar-coated cyanide."

--Andrei Codrescu on NPR's All Things Considered

PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE tell me you can shut this feature off!!!
This would drive me up a wall!
I LOVE to underline and comment in some of my books, not all of them, but someone else's highlights???
They're of no interest to me.
I wouldn't want them to skew my reading of a book that's completely new to me!!!

1 comment:

patrysia said...

Of course you can shut it off. It's shut off on my Kindle. And it's no different than buying a used textbook or book that someone has highlighted. You, of the Facebook, share everything, generation, would, I thought, have appreciated you can share your favorite passages from your current book with your Internet friends.

Generally I enjoy Andre's comments on NPR, but he needs to calm down about this. Although perhaps as a Famous Poet and Commentator he doesn't ever buy used books like the rest of us cretins.