Well, he may overstate the case but it’s worth the read!
Think about it. It hasn’t been fundamentally improved upon for 1,000 years. Few other products in the world match it for reach and purity of function. It’s cheap, transportable, sharable. It’s immersive, transformative, offers universal and timeless appeal across all nationalities, religions, races, creeds, politics, classes, education levels. No other product you can name matches the book across the efficiency/cost/intimacy/experience matrix. It’s flawless.
So of course, we have to kill it.
Or rather, progress does. Everyone says the book is dying, shifting, being stung to death by swarms of ravenous killer technology. A rather twee piece in the NYT Magazine recently took Amazon’s bogus Kindle numbers and spun them into a tale about how some are now using hardbound books not as intellectual/spiritual stimulation, not as storytelling tools, not, as Kafka said, “as an ax for the frozen sea inside us,” but as the raw materials to build ugly furniture. How quaint.
It’s a dazzling realization, really. We simply don’t have many perfect products in the world. Paperclips. Pencils. Hitachi Magic Wands. Hip flasks. Strippers. Christy Turlington. Swiss Army knives. Bali. Many come close, some are perfect for single utility. But books are unique in how, for just a few bucks and a handful of hours, you can have your entire worldview flipped over, gutted, slapped asunder. Or not. They are, in any case, a kind of magic.