New Yorker Kicks Kindle's Tires

The New Yorker selected professional obsessive Nicholson Baker—he of John Updike stalking, minimalist fiction, and presidential assassination fantasies—to test-drive the new Kindle 2 from Amazon. Baker launches a lengthy list of complaints: he doesn't like the background color, he finds the font "grim and Calvinist," he can't find anything by Saul Bellow or Graham Greene in the Amazon library, and he misses illustrations and quirky marginalia now gone in the digital version. Baker is particularly tough on the new Kindle DX ($498) designed for newspaper-reading. His verdict: "A century and a half of evolved beauty and informational expressiveness is all but entirely rinsed away in this digital reductio." Baker's original hope, though, that "the Kindle was the Bowflex of bookishness: something expensive that, when you commit to it, forces you to do more of whatever it is you think you should be doing more of" seems somewhat confirmed. By the piece's end, Baker finds himself somewhat charmed by this new device.