E-Book Burner Available in Time for Holidays


Mary Jane

 In an effort to continue the world's conversion to electronic books without significantly changing the reading experience, Amazon.com today announced a product that may be perfect for that hard to shop for non-reader on your holiday gift list: an E-Book Burner.  As Amazon spokesperson Wazoo Balloo said, "There will always be books out there that someone wants to burn, so they may as well do it in a way that doesn't harm the environment and makes us money."

Here's how it works: first, you have to buy a Kindle.  Then, for $19.95 (free instantaneous WhisperNet shipping!) you install the E-Book Burner app.  After that, any e-book you buy, open or close will prompt you to decide, "Burn now?"  If you choose "Yes," the book is promptly removed from the device's memory  and it is marked in your Amazon account as "Burned."  "We have extensively tested this app and are confident it will offer years of trouble free service," Mr. Balloo continued.  "I personally torched The Velvateen Rabbit last night and even prose that sweet and innocuous burned like pine needles in a drought."

Of course, there is one more step in the traditional book burning process to account for, represented by the proverb, "If a book is burned in the forest and no one is there to witness it, does it make a point?"  But of course Jeff Bezos' team has an answer handy: for an extra $0.99 a book, you can post your symbolic action to amazon.flamers.com for all the world to see.  While showing me the site's flame and smoke graphics for me, Mr. Balloo said, "This way, our namesake rainforest doesn't need to be cut down, pulped and turned into paperbacks and then burned, doubling the book burner's contribution to global warming.  And, for a few dollars more, you can rent a chatroom and burn books as a virtual mob."

But, how will this technological advance affect society at large?  I asked Dr. Emil Schüffhausen of the University of Vienna, a noted literary scholar.  "While the usual suspects are expected to light up nicely (Life on the Mississippi, Lady Chatterley’s Lover, The Little Prince), at this price point the amount of book burning may increase dramatically.  I can see people holding theme nights, like 'John Grisham Tuesday' or 'Join us for a Harry Potter BBQ.'  And, since burning an e-book doesn't decrease the number of that book in the world, there's no danger of running out.  It's truly a win-win situation, for authors and zealots alike."

As the author of two self published novels, people often ask how I would feel about one of my e-books being burned.  I always answer the same way: burning just one of one of my books wouldn't impress me.  To really get my attention, someone should buy and burn at least 100 copies of my books.  Please keep that in mind when budgeting your next virtual bonfire.

Somewhere, Ray Bradbury is working on a rewrite (well, really a tech refresh) of Fahrenheit 451 - and Apple is working on an iPad app to burn books in color.

  Copyright 2010, Kyle G. Roesler