As you can see from the photo at left, Amazon has gone to some effort to make the Kindle look like a book. Below is an excerpt from an interesting essay on our inability to rename the book, now that it’s not always found in its familiar bound format, followed by a link to the full article. If not ‘ebook’, what would you call it?
The form of the book has persisted more or less unchanged for several hundred years now. The covers are generally softer, and the materials less precious, but Gutenberg would undoubtedly recognize the books of today as having more or less the same character as the books of his time. And well enough: the book is an object of technological invention that has functioned with only minimal advancement for centuries. Until recently, there was nothing broken, and therefore nothing to fix.
That age has ended. We are now ushering in a new age of books which exist without any physical presence at all, which can be transmitted across oceans in moments, in which annotations and criticisms can be shared in ways no one of the seventeenth century could ever have imagined. (Indeed, ways we of the twenty-first century are only beginning to understand.) And yet we still stubbornly refer to them as “books,” tucking but a sly vowel up front (“ebook”), as if we’re afraid to really admit how much has changed. This naming convention is no less absurd than if the codex was called a “folded scroll” or the scroll a “soft, thin, rolled tablet.” Dramatic changes in form require equally dramatic changes in terms.