Can you judge my book if it has no cover?

By Ben Krull

I survived the demise of the subway token with little problem. I even took the extinction of vinyl records in stride. But if Kindles replace books, it would be a crisis on a scale not seen since they stopped making the ribbon for my typewriter.

As a booklover, the paperback-sized Kindle, with its reader-friendly screen, is more than an electronic alternative to books; it is a tool of Satan, an existential threat even greater than the decline of the independent bookstore.

 While many people use books to pass time on mass transit or in the bathroom, I regard them as a status symbol. I only read thick, intellectually daunting books — the type of books that draw sarcastic remarks like, “a little beach reading?”

Riding the subway, I never read a book while resting it on my lap. I always hold it aloft, so everyone can see the title and know whom they are dealing with.

But if books are supplanted by the Kindle, how will people know that I am reading a highly regarded tomb of the literary canon? More importantly, how will I be able to judge the cultural sophistication and intelligence of other straphangers, if there is no book-jacket to let me know what they are reading?

The Kindle could also cause havoc with my love life. I own hundreds of books, which I use to lure bookish women.

“Do you want to see my book collection?” I’ll ask a date, after wooing her with my encyclopedic knowledge of Pulitzer Prize winners.

 If book collections become passé I will be reduced to asking, “Do you want to see what’s inside my Kindle?”— a line that could easily be misunderstood as a crude come on.

Books have even saved me from disaster. One time I went to a woman’s apartment to pick her up for a date, when I spotted several Ann Coulter titles. Being a good liberal, I ended things with her that very night.

It is frightening to think what would have happened if my date read Kindles instead of books. By the time I discovered her fondness for Ann Coulter, we would likely have been married, damning me to a lifetime of misery with a right-wing zealot.

But my concern about the Kindle goes beyond the personal. Imagine the emptiness of a world where presidents take the oath of office with their hand on a screen, or where living rooms are decorated with coffee table Kindles. Good bye pop-up books…hello 3-D Kindles.

Despite my warnings of catastrophe, the odds that readers will resist the Kindle’s allure, are the same as that of teenagers giving up text messaging for letter writing. There is no use complaining, so get used to it!

 And if books do go the way of the payphone most of us will adjust. After all, ancient readers predicted doom when books replaced their stone tablet collections.

Ben Krull, an attorney in Lower Manhattan’s Family Court, is a freelance writer.