Moderator: Welcome to our latest writer, Stephen Tippe, editor-publisher of Opinionated: Voices and Viewpoints on America and the World. It’s Tribune Media Services‘ new Kindle-format magazine—with commentators ranging from Arianna Huffington to Cal Thomas. This essay is adapted from one in the magazine. – D.R.
“In the next five years in Graydon Carter’s world, you’ll walk onto a plane, or a subway, or a soon-to-be invented mode of transport, and you’ll tuck a little electronic book under your arm. Inside that little book, which will be very expensive at first but soon will cost $150, there’ll be a series of mylar ‘pages,’ and there will be small buttons off to the side, and once you hit one of them, whoooosh, words and photos from Vanity Fair will suddenly appear. ‘You’ll subscribe to five magazines and six newspapers,’ Mr. Carter said. ‘That is what I see as the future. …That I know is coming.'”
A newsstand in my backpack
Well, a couple of weeks ago I hopped into a mode of transport called a cab and headed to O’Hare Airport with a little electronic book, currently very expensive but sure to become more affordable, maybe even as low as $150, tucked in my backpack. Stuck in traffic, I pulled it out and purchased a single issue of the British newspaper The Independent to read, saving my Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Forbes, and Atlantic subscriptions for the inevitable airport delays. I simply hit a small button off to the side and, whoooosh, articles from The Independent suddenly appeared. Later that evening in my hotel, I picked up the device again and tried to decide whether I wanted to get back into Joseph Ellis’ lively bio of Thomas Jefferson, American Sphinx, or start the copy of a new police procedural by a favorite Italian author that I had purchased a few days before. I hit another button and, whoooosh . . . well you know the process by now.
A publishing and distribution platform, not just another e-gizmo
For Kindle owners, the future is now and we know that it has already arrived!
Although the Kindle is not yet the exact device of this imagined future—it doesn’t show off the glossy color celeb photos that we love “Vanity Fair” for—it is clearly nearly identical to the device he describes (substitute the eInk screen technology for the mylar pages). Kindle owners know that the device is still in an early stage and will improve and get less expensive. But it is a mistake to focus on the the Kindle as just another electronic device; it is a publishing and distribution platform and model that promises to accelerate the revolution in book and periodical publishing started by the Internet.
End coming for paper magazines, says Kurt Andersen
I could write on this subject for pages, but will leave it with another quote from Koblin’s very enjoyable article, this time from Kurt Andersen, former New York Magazine editor-in-chief and co-founder of Carter’s Spy magazine:
“As I look at things on the Kindle, I am getting more specific glimmers of the death of paper,” Mr. Andersen said. “That the readability thing of electronic ink is getting good enough that the next stage of the beginning of the end is for paper magazines. In the next 10 years certainly: the easy portable piece of plastic on which each magazine can be beamed.”
So, I’d ask, when will I be able to read The New York Observer on my little electronic book on the day it is published?
Detail about the image: Please note that the Kindle doesn’t do color. But I have no doubt that’ll be coming eventually. – D.R.