Andrei Codrescu’s commentary on NPR’s All Things Considered always makes me smile. His lovely Romanian accent imbues all of his pronouncements with a crabby world weariness that implies centuries of despair, toil and heavy drinking. Too, of course, I’m a sucker for literate cranks.
So, imagine my delight when, driving home on Monday, I found myself listening to Mr. Codrescu as he ruminated about how the discovery of highlighted passages in his brand new Kindle e-book enraged him. His sonorous, vaguely funereal delivery gave perfect voice to my own outrage about finding other people’s muddy tracks on the pristine pages of my book.
As big a fan of electronic books as I’ve become, there is a part of me that disdains the enforced democratization of the reading process that they represent. While I fully understand the logic behind .99¢ pricing of e-books, for instance, I wish that we valued books enough to be willing to pay more for them—after all, .99¢ is the price of a song on iTunes; a whole book is a much bigger undertaking than a song. And, I do certainly resent Amazon for thinking that allowing me to see other people’s highlights on the text I’m reading will somehow inform and enrich my reading experience. Reading, as Mr. Codrescu points out, is “the most private of peaceful activities.” Can’t we move forward technologically and yet preserve that privacy and peace?
Are Andrei Codrescu and I making too much of a silly marketing device by the Kindle folks or do you guys agree that highlighted passages are all kinds of wrong?