A provocative book that will appeal mostly to futurologists, techies and devoted readers, many of whom will not share...

BURNING THE PAGE

THE EBOOK REVOLUTION AND THE FUTURE OF READING

Merkoski, one of the leading members of the team that developed and launched Amazon's Kindle and the e-book revolution, shares his views on “the future of reading, communication, and human culture.”

The author compares the development of e-readers to Gutenberg's invention of the printing press 500 years ago. Just as the Gutenberg Bible laid the basis for mass distribution of books and the spread of literacy, Merkoski dreams of the creation of pocket devices that can contain the contents of entire public libraries. “Reading has not only been transformed,” he writes, “but also rebooted.” The author attributes Amazon's initial success as a market leader to its ability to create “an easy, seamless customer experience,” as well as its marketing expertise and its pre-existing customer base. Crediting iPads with greater sensual appeal and Kindle with quicker access, in his opinion, the two greatest inventions of the 21st century so far have been Apple's iPhone and Amazon's Kindle. What's lacking is the ability for complex indexing using links. It is Kindle's connection to the cloud that will allow it to become mainstream, writes Merkoski, who foresees a tipping point looming when e-book readers will overtake the printed book and social networking will be directly incorporated into the reading experience. This will allow ongoing collaborative revisions by readers and the original author. Looking further to the future, Merkoski imagines that “linear line-by-line reading” may become “a quaint pastime like butter churning or horseback riding.” It could be replaced by holographic projections and other visuals. Further into the future, the author imagines the possibility of mind-to-mind direct communication, “some sort of high-speed plug that goes into an author's head, some way of taking an author’s imagination and converting it directly into a digital format.” Although he is no longer connected with Amazon, Merkoski does not discuss the current disputes among publishers, Amazon and Apple.

A provocative book that will appeal mostly to futurologists, techies and devoted readers, many of whom will not share Merkoski's love of technology but will find the book interesting nonetheless.

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4022-8883-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Sourcebooks

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2013

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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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