The advent of the Kindle was a decisive and still ramifying intervention into the nexus of relations that is reading and selling and collecting. There are some different equations emerging. Now of course there are lots of me-too electronic readers which are taken to be included in this apparently irreversible drift to the virtual.

No one yet has written the full story. For example, beyond the straight marketing questions there is the whole issue of the democratisation of knowledge (and information, which is not quite the same category) that is unfolding in the virtual age. Julian Assange and his Wikileaks was just the tip of the iceberg. This could be a stage in history. When Guttenberg invented the movable type press his first book was a popular vulgate version of the bible. The impact of this was hugely significant as it put into the hands of ordinary folk knowledge whose exclusivity had been the previous guarantor of the elites. In some sense it kick-started the modern age of the individual thinker.

The virtual world has another innocent but important aspect; the compression of data. This is a technological advance potentially as seismic as Guttenberg’s little wooden machine that printed the first book.

The book will become an abstract interface and multidimensional experience in 3D surround in a virtual space in front of our eyes – think Minority Report as a starting point. It will not however involve us peering into a device in a two dimensional black and white back lite rendition of the tradition book and will not be device dependant. The book will vanish from ownership of the masses and exist in Library museums and the Kindle will long have melted into the background in a brief history of time and be backing up in the plastic waste pits just outside out cities.

The reader will participate in the narrative and affect its course blurring the lines between author and reader. This natural cycle and evolution of oral history, the book, cultural evolution, technology, digitisation of content and information will bring the textured history all the way back to a full sensory engagement of the original story telling of humans.

In oral history, the story never gets told exactly the same way but evolves as each teller put their spin on the main events and bring an interpretation to the tale. Effectively a form of readership incorporated with authorship.
Beyond Kindle – the greatest ever revolution beckons

In the same way the digital ‘reader’ will now become part of the story maker……book readership will quite soon evolve into a derivative and convergent medium that only remotely resembles the Kindle experience of the early 21st century. We will enter the ‘space’ and have a full sensory emergence into the medium as events revolve around us in an encapsulated 3D environment. We will be taken back in history and meet the rendition of characters and events as they happened and participate in the outcome……making our own story and re-writing the outcome of history as we author our own version of events in real time.

There is no doubt that we will look back and see the Kindle and Amazon as being a significant moment in the evolution, distribution and fragmentation of literature and books. We may also see that its moment was brief compared to that of the original that has been in existence for 500 years or so. The book will survive whereas the Kindle will be quickly forgotten.