Esquire editor David Granger loves the Amazon Kindle. Sort of. The e-book reader gives him hope that Internet-shortened attention spans will lengthen enough to spark a renaissance in books and magazines. He's utterly delusional.
Television has been distracting people from the written word long before the Internet came along. And while the Internet has been good for reading, it's mostly encourage the consumption of short-form writing.
Print is a much better way to read long chunks of text — fewer distractions, easier on the eyes, portable from room to room, etc. — and to the extent the Kindle replicates these technological advantages, it is basically a crippled laptop.
But Granger imagines an e-reader that advances beyond the "crude" Kindle. He thinks better technology will do the trick:
... as electronic readers improve, as they add graphics and design and, eventually, color, even more people will opt for the more sustained, contemplative experiences more often. And all will be well with the world.
What he forgets: The Kindle has a built-in Web browser, though few people use it because the Web is not particularly attractive in black-and-white. If it adds color, won't people inevitably use it to read websites, and thus fewer books, just like they do on PCs? There goes Granger's theory out the window.
We suspect he has another reason for touting the Kindle, though. Hearst, the owner of Esquire is working on its own e-reader. By paying the Kindle such a backhanded compliment — right idea, wrong device — Granger is carrying water for his publisher's business interests. And not for the first time.
Hearst has invested in E Ink, a Cambridge startup whose low-power screen technology is used in both the Kindle and Hearst's planned reader. E Ink appeared on a splashy, Granger-praised Esquire cover last year. Perhaps this E Ink-stained wretch has even handled the product he envisions killing the Kindle? If so, it's too bad Granger won't tell his readers how much he loves that, too.