Critical battery

The postman delivered my Kindle on a busy Saturday morning, leaving it on the counter, its box marked A KINDLE FROM AMAZON. Had Jeff Bezos himself arranged a marching band its arrival could have hardly been more conspicuous.
 
That afternoon I took it with me to the football at Selhurst Park and before the game started, peered at it surreptitiously, fascinated that it already contained the copies of Bullet Park and (a free) David Copperfield as well as the copy of The Rough Guide to Paris that I had bought on my iPad in the summer.
 
A regular and very good customer at the shop sat down beside me—this never happens at the football—and stared at the thing in my hands. I felt as though I had been caught feeding dope to my daughter's kitten.
 
At home my children circled the device suspiciously but later in the week after my daughter had finished her most recent book I  suggested she might like to download the sequel. Hip dad would show her how! She was unconvinced but fascinated that one of her favourites, The Devil's Kiss by Sarwat Chadda, was on offer on the same page as her Sophie Mackenzie and so she agreed to give it a go. In seconds we had the book. It was sort of magic and she went upstairs to her bedroom to read it. And then came back down to the
kitchen again, grumbling that she couldn't read it in the dark. What was the point of this elaborate electronic gadgetry if she had to have the light turned on as well?
 
This was the first shock when I started in earnest to read on it; at the moment reading a Kindle is like reading something printed on the inside of a cornflakes packet. Worse, it reduces each and every book to exactly the same aesthetic reading pleasure. It is functional in the way that listening to Mozart on a transistor radio is convenient in the circumstances but ultimately completely unfullfilling.
 
The other arts of publishing such as kerning appear to have been cast by the wayside too; and please, where did the page numbers go?
 
People who take pride in and covet what they read, for example the great majority of my customers, will hate this thing. Sure it will get better, but then so will I. Sure its delivery system is convenient, but so am I.
 
It is hard not to be snobby about this, so I'm not going to try. One look at the Kindle bestseller lists suggests that most purchases are being made by readers who prize cheapness over literary merit.
 
I glanced at my Kindle yesterday and a message on its screen read: Critical Battery. I like this idea, it could be a real innovation. Possibly the next time you pick up yours it will say why are you wasting your time on this flim-flam? Get a life. Read a real book. It will never run out.