WARNING: The opinions expressed below are DEFINITELY those of The CoLab Theatre Company! Learn more at www.colabtheatre.org!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The (Theatre) People Vs. Kindle Culture

I took myself out to breakfast yesterday. As a single diner, I chose to sit at the counter of the restaurant, ordered some eggs and coffee, and took out a novel. As the waitress cleared my plate, she commented, "I'm impressed you're reading an actual book. Everyone in here has a Kindle. I'm not sure I've seen someone reading a real book in months." We briefly conversed on her's son's Christmas wish list of assorted electronics (she ended up get her 10 year old a phone that included the mp3 player, the phone, AND the video camera he wanted - problem solved) and the craziness of the world's dependence on electronic devices.

Now, I understand the convenience of the Kindle. If I'm George Clooney's character in Up in the Air, I'm absolutely going to own one of those babies. But, I'm not. And even if I was, I love to hold a book. I love flipping the pages, I love the smell, the weight, the feel, the nervousness I get when the cover gets dog eared. I love writing notes in the margins. I love placing it on my shelf when I've finished, ready to pick it up again when the mood strikes. Collecting books is a way of gauging my intellect, my journey through the world of literature, I display them as proudly as I display my writing awards from 3rd grade and my college diploma. (Plus, you can let someone borrow a a real book - how cool is that? Right!?) Which gets me to thinking, why are we moving away from actual, physical novels to the electronic kind? Is it that we find them inaccessible? Bulky? And what does that say about us? Most of us are NOT traveling so often that we can't pick up a paperback. Come on, people.

And if the Kindle is stomping all over print culture, is that the fate of the theatre? Will Blu Rays and blockbuster films eventually run us over? What is happening to us? Why can't we relate to things in person any more? What's wrong with books and live theatre? Like Kenny, I've been watching quite a lot of Slings and Arrows lately and a lot of the characters are battling the same thing - why do we find live theatre not accessible? Why can't we just watch people relate on stage? Theatre is not boring. It's beautiful. I'm not sure if this post has turned into a rant or drawn any conclusions, but these questions have been eating at me for the past 24 hours. And I've yet to find answers. I'm not really one for New Year's Resolutions but I'll say this, I pledge to keep asking these questions in hopes that the continued conversation will help me get some peace.

Oh, and of course, I won't be buying a Kindle in the next 361 days.

- E


  1. I admit, I like shiny things. I like the way the page changes when I see people reading on NooKindlepads on the T. I LOVE the library and the feel of a book or two in my purse and in my lap, but I do think those things are pretty snazzy. My more positive opinion is also due to something I read last week: the Amazon e-book store is or will be making their titles lend-able. You can email someone access to the title you've bought, and while they have it you won't be able to open that file. Seems to me a better way to a) not accidentally spend $9.99 x a zillion on one's book list (and never get to half of them) b) share your joy of a given title with a friend c) introduce a social layer to e-reading..whether that's appealing or not.

    I'm not rushing to buy one of those things either, but I do appreciate that the mode of using the technology is starting to shift.


  2. A somewhat last response, BUT I also appreciate the ability of the Kindle however, it scares me that we seem to gravitate to these new things and are forgetting about the old. We're all so connected to technology, it seems that personal interaction is also on its way out. Also, a book can't break. I've been through 4 ipods, 3 digital cameras, and who knows how many cell phones in the last five years. That's a lot of money on electronics that don't last that long. As long as you keep flame away from a book, you can't go wrong. :)

    - EG