Magazine article The Spectator

The Wiki Man

Magazine article The Spectator

The Wiki Man

Article excerpt

Judging by my fellow passengers on trains or planes, I am in a minority in being more addicted to words than music. While perfectly fond of music, on long journeys I am slightly unnerved by the many people in headphones who can sit for three hours at a stretch staring vacantly into space. I could easily survive that long without an iPod, but would start foaming at the mouth if I had to last 20 minutes without anything to read.

I also admire wordsmiths more than tunesmiths. Until his verbal assault on his brother ('He's the angriest man you'll ever meet. He's like a man with a fork in a world of soup'), I never had much time for Noel Gallagher; now I think he's a genius. And I respect John Lennon more for saying, 'Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans', than for being the Walrus.

Anyhow, this week is an historic moment for oddballs like us, because it has seen the long-overdue arrival on our shores of the reading man's iPod - the first UK-ready Kindle e-reader from Amazon. I shall describe this fully in a fortnight's time (at the time of writing, mine is awaiting shipment) but I am already confident that in a decade we shall look back on its arrival as one of those pivotal, iPhone-style moments that changes the course of whole industries.

The Kindle is different from other e-book readers in being permanently connected to a mobile phone data network. This seems to me a great advantage over the competition.

It means you can stand in the middle of a field in perhaps 50 countries in the world and order a copy of any of 350,000 digital books to arrive through the ether in 60 seconds. …

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