Remember how calendar software used to show you months like they were off of real calendars? That is, if you were at November 28th, you couldn't see what you had in store on Dec 1st without "ripping off" November? Even though they were right next to each other and there was no reason the computer couldn't display both on the same screen, many programmers used an old style interface in a digital box for no good reason other than a lack of creativity.

I think the Amazon Kindle is the same deal. We've already seen how you do text in a digital interface, and it doesn't look like a book. If you want a book, use one. They're cheap, allow nearly limitless opportunity for marginalia, and handle the elements fairly well, all things considered. Flipping from page to dogeared page won't ever be replicated, I doubt. They're like having as many monitors as you have pairs of pages, with each display waiting for you to flip it open again, however you like.

This was a poor ode to a codex, but I think the point is pretty clear. You can't better a legacy design by sticking to it unnecessarily, which is why eBook hardware hasn't and won't replace our book obsession any time soon. If you want to read something like a book, buy a book. If you want to read digital text, buy an ultraportable -- for the same price as Amazon's much more closed, overly specialized hardware. People read text on digital devices already. People read books on digital devices already. These devices are called personal computers, and they don't try to do what books do.

(Don't even get me started about the inability to slap useful DRM on books. Do you really need another reason to keep shelling out for pulp? I am a little upset about book prices these days ($8 for a paperback and $28 for a hardback?!!), but I'll save that one too.)