Fit for Kindling

I don't own a Kindle, but I downloaded the Kindle app for my iPod Touch and have purchased and read a couple of novels since doing so. (One of the advantages the iPod and iPhone have over the Kindle itself is that their screens, while tiny, are backlit, making them ideal for bedtime reading.) For someone who loves books as physical constructs — I can still recall the intoxicating, ink-on-paper smell of my first paperback copy of the Silmarillion — the experience of reading an eBook was less soul-crushing than I'd imagined it would be. I'm excited to see what a company like Apple might do with the concept (rumors in the Mac world suggest that Steve Jobs will be launching a computer "tablet" to compete with both netbooks and the Kindle early next year). But, aside from's recent public relations faux pas, there are lots of reasons to wonder if the brave new world of eBooks will be all that brave after all. In today's Slate Farhad Manjoo studies the clouds looming on the electronic horizon.

*Edit: An earlier version of this post predicted that Apple would introduce its tablet computer this fall but the latest rumors suggest a spring 2010 launch date is in the works.