Wednesday, April 23, 2014


Tangled Web

Kindle Porn: Our Growing Affection For Our E-Readers

(Photo by Anomalily)
(Photo by Anomalily)
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I stumbled upon something interesting the other day: Kindle porn.

There is a Flickr group, I Love My Kindle, featuring close-ups of e-readers: Kindles next to steaming mugs of hot coffee, on the tables of hipster cafes, resting in the loving hands of their owners, alongside glasses of wine, cigars, cats sprawled on back porches. You can see plenty of similar shots on Instagram, Tumblr, and Pinterest.
(Flickr photo by arellis49)

Early love for e-readers tended to be more utilitarian. The early adopters spoke as if they had just come from a beautiful, exciting relationship (which eventually fizzled out) and fallen into the arms of someone a lot more sensible. People talked about the savings they could make on price, the amount of books they could now carry in their backpacks, the wide selection, and the speed of availability. They talked about the practicalities of the device: How it's easier to find a comfortable reading position in bed with an e-reader or how the pages don’t flip shut when reading one-handed. But you didn’t hear much about beauty.

(Flickr photo by stephoto27)

That seems to be changing, though, and there does seem to be a growing aesthetical appreciation for the e-reader. In these photos, you can see something familiar, something we have always had with books: a sense of place. Aside from the tactile talk -- the touch of the paper, the feel of the spine -- and the smell, when people expressed their love for books, they were often expressing love for a place, a moment. A fireplace, a favorite chair, a window with a view, tucked up in a cozy bed on a cold winter’s night. All of that pleasure -- really just the pleasure of reading -- was focused on the physical object, the book. (You can see plenty of this love on the Book Porn Tumblr.) Their love, in other words, was perhaps a little misplaced.

(Flickr photo by arellis49)

I think that is what we’re seeing here with these photos. Our love of the moment is projected onto the device. Just like opening a book, powering up a Kindle can redefine the space around us.
 
Obviously, books have had hundreds of years to get under our skin, but the early aesthetes might be a portent of how we might feel about our e-readers in the future. We are not waxing lyrical much about the soft swish as we flick a page, the rubbery security of the bezel, but we probably will soon. (Amazon has added a tactile feel to its page turns on its high-end Paperwhite.) And what’s interesting is the sense of continuity -- just how similar the aesthetics of book and Kindle porn are. 

(Flickr photo by Anomalily)

It could, of course, just be the narcissism of the Instagram generation, a fetish for consumer durables in the same vein as the “unboxing" phenomenon. But my bet is that we'll see much more of this type of thing in the future. We will continue sowing the seeds of our inevitable e-reader nostalgia years from now, when screen readers are replaced by godknowswhat.   

(Flickr photo by dianecordell)
(Flickr photo by dianecordell)
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About This Blog



Written by Luke Allnutt, Tangled Web focuses on the smart ways people in closed societies are using social media, mobile phones, and the Internet to circumvent their governments and the efforts of less-than-democratic governments to control the web. 
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