Who would have thought even ten years ago that we could be reading books on a wireless reading device, have the ability to download books anywhere we find ourselves, have a bookstore right in the palm of our hands? Evidently, the future is now: Amazon recently introduced the latest version of their electronic reader, called Kindle 2.
What does this mean for the Museum’s Art Reference Library? We’re embracing new technology in many ways…but we won’t be giving up our books any time soon. Although the ambitious goal of Kindle 2 is to be able to download any book published, making the thin little product capable of holding the whole world of knowledge in one’s hand, it is still in the black and white stage, even though it “boasts 16 shades of gray for clear text and even crisper images.” Art books are full of color reproductions. Printing technologies have so improved that today’s art publications are feasts for the eyes. It’s still worthwhile to come to the Museum library and browse through the stacks to learn about one’s favorite artist or movement. Although nothing compares to seeing the real thing, looking at art in finely printed monographs continues to be a tactile and visual delight. I’m sure a super high-definition color Kindle is in the works, and someday it will come and be affordable for all, but until then the Art Reference Library has plenty of art books to enjoy!