Ask a modern-day kid what the Dewey Decimal is, and he's likely to guess it's an old-school cartoon character from before his era. The antiquated library classification system served our generation well, but it was thankfully replaced by speedier, more efficient technology delivered by computers and keystrokes as opposed to piles of stale, pencil-marked index cards.
Today, Amazon's top seller, Kindle, is poised for the same kind of takeover -- but this time, it's books that will have to bow out to technological advancement. Doing away with Dewey most likely got a unanimous thumbs-up...but do we really want to imagine a world in which libraries and used bookstores cease to exist? Are we ready to part with the magic of flipping through and experiencing the physical properties of a book: dog-eared pages, highlighted words, accidental tea stained text, not to mention the nostalgic and inherent emotional decor value of being surrounded by books you've read throughout different stages of your life? Is humanity really ready to throw the book at books?
It would seem so. Kindle is flying off cyberspace shelves and 5 Top Publishers are currently developing strategies to rival the little electronic device that stores tons of tomes. Newer, shinier, speedier, more colorful and user-friendly devices are in the works, and books everywhere should be getting shivers up their spines.
For die-hard bibliophiles, the main perk of the Kindle is that, according to an analysis by the Cleantech group, Kindle is more environmentally friendly than old-school books. Amazon has even established a recycling program for Kindles and their batteries to reduce electronic waste. However, Cleantech data also suggests, "production of a Kindle produces 168 kilograms of carbon dioxide compared to 7.46 kilograms for a book... [and] like reading a newspaper on a PC, electronic readers need electricity to run." Gizmodo sums up the debate offering, 'if you only read 22.5 books or less every four years, then you don't have to feel guilty about mucking up the environment."
So, it's easy to be green and book smart. Is Kindle an advancement that will eventually replace paperbacks and hardcovers? Not in my book, although I do see the appeal of being able to access a whole library through one single little device that fits in my bag. However, in this era of digital device overload and too-short attention spans, there is something even more appealing - at least to me - about the good old-fashion physical library, where one can physically flip through worn pages and converse with other like-minded people about the best new books.