Gutenberg’s toy will never take off…

Peter Suderman of Reason Magazine says don’t fear the e-reader. They may be imperfect today, but so was the printed book back in Gutenberg’s day:

Kindles and other e-readers are imperfect devices, but there’s no denying they have touched a consumer nerve. Unlike the iPod, the portable music device to which they are often compared, the e-readers we’ve seen so far aren’t so much a revolution as the proof of concept for one that may eventually happen. The true value of e-readers isn’t what they’re doing now so much as how they’ve opened up the public imagination to rethinking the way we read.

[The printed book] too was initially imperfect. Elaborate illustrations had to be tossed aside, as did many of the personal flourishes that scribes put on their works. But the advantages of mass production won out and quickly made printed books a fixture of middle-class life. These days it’s a cliché to say that the printed book’s ability to store and transmit information cheaply changed the world. But the cliché is true.

E-readers are only going to get better, cheaper, and more widely used. I love my Kindle and I love my printed books, but my 3-year-old daughter will someday look at my shelves full of dead trees and see collector’s items.