I will never buy a Kindle. I love technology, but I also love books. The Kindle is expensive, and there isn’t enough content for it, and it doesn’t display graphics well, but those aren’t the big problems.

The really big problem is that Kindle’s content is, by definition and by design, junk food. It’s intended to be used and then thrown away. Robert Ludlum fans will love it. But I have on my shelf books that were published fifty years ago, by publishing houses that no longer exist. Will Amazon guarantee that the books you purchase today for Kindle will still be readable in fifty years? I don’t think so.

If they did guarantee it, would you trust them to follow through on the guarantee? Giant corporations can’t be trusted to guarantee anything more than 90 days in the future. Can you say, “Enron”?

My best guess is that the lifespan of Kindle as a product is five years at most. Maybe only two years. Beyond that point, there will be something new. You’ll be expected to pony up another $300 or so for it. Probably you’ll be able to download your existing files from Kindle (or from some Internet mega-entity, which we may as well call Big Brother) into the new device. But beyond ten or fifteen years, even file compatibility is not likely to survive.

What if a book is out of print or has been declared subversive — for whatever reason, it’s no longer downloadable from Big Brother — but it’s so wonderful that you want to share it with your friends? Can you put Kindle in a Xerox machine and make copies, or print out its files? Oops … didn’t think so.

Novels I mostly just read and set aside. But when reading nonfiction, I sometimes underline important passages or even scribble brief remarks in the margin. Can I do that with Kindle? Oops … didn’t think so.

The very name of the device evokes Fahrenheit 451. Need I say more?

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