The first Kindle was put on the market by Amazon on November 19, 2007. Amazon had not expected the response. The entire stock sold out in about five hours, and no more could be offered for nearly six months. The world pounced on the new supply come April, and Amazon knew it had a hit on its hands.
The first Kindle was fairly crude by later standards, with a primitive two-color screen. Other features were added as new versions were developed. The ability to show alphabets other than the standard Western one was added, an ability to translate a book from one language into a language the owner could read came along. In 2009, Kindle was given the ability to read the book TO the owner, so people did not have to read much at all, at all.
And in July of 2014, the very last book was sold at the Newberry Book Fair.
No one knew at the time, of course, that this was to be the end of such things, so nobody wrote down what that last book was. So-called experts who claim it was The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood are just lending color to an otherwise stark episode.
Uncle Blogsy had been warned, of course. He was given command of a special committee charged with deciding what to do when everyone in America had a Kindle and stopped reading books. But with an increasing number of donations to handle, he never had much time to consider alternatives. He had experimented with selling used Kindles, but this had been regarded as one of Uncle Blogsy’s jokes.
Donations in the fall and winter of 2014 were immense. The Department of Homeland Clutter, established by Interior Secretary Martha Stewart, had decreed that “Books make an abode seem cluttered.” People affected by warnings they heard on the news (those who survived the stampede during the Big Mac shortage accidentally proclaimed in 2013) hurried to dump their libraries.
Nobody wanted to be seen buying books, either. Attendance at the 2015 Book fair was just ninety-seven, and this included six people who each came to the Newberry ten times. Uncle Blogsy assured everyone that the Newberry had only to stay the course. He had to say that. No one had been found to take the leftovers from the 2014 Book Fair OR the 2015 event, so he was sitting on some three thousand boxes of books.
And donations quadrupled. House Organizing services renamed themselves Debooking Services. Only the fogeyest of fogeys still had books in their homes. And Declutter Squads exposed those.
Libraries suffered, too. Some, like the Newberry, had themselves reclassified as museums, places that would let people LOOK at books, but not actually read them. Others simply closed down, and either burned their books, or sent them to Uncle Blogsy for the 2016 Book Fair. At this point, Uncle Blogsy was living in a dark corner of a warehouse, surrounded by boxes of books, keeping himself warm by writing angry blogs. Nobody knew about these. Kindle could have read them to people, but Kindle didn’t have to, if Kindle didn’t want to.
One night, in the heat of July, Uncle Blogsy’s electricity was cut off. His income from selling bootleg books to the few addicts who could elude the authorities was not covering the electric bill. Using his pocket knife and an old book on wiring, he tried to tap into someone else’s current. The resulting short circuit blacked out most of northern Cook County. Mouthing a few words he had learned in the old days from people looking for The DaVinci Code, he retired into the warehouse.
Thus he did not know that the entire power grid of Illinois had been damaged. Explosions and breakdowns spread. Soon the Midwest was cut off from civilization: no electricity meant people were limited by the endurance of the batteries in their phones and tablets…and Kindles. As the crisis spread, Amazon developed a special eternal battery, but could no longer advertise this, with customers losing contact. The President of the United States was found slumped in the Oval office. Finding himself unable to tweet, he had expired.
Authorities sought answers in the museums which had been libraries, but not a single copy of the Reader’s Digest Home Repair Guide, which might have saved the day, could be found. Someone, recalling a man named Blogsy, sent authorities in search of him.
“Can we buy your How To books?” they pleaded. “How To (Hands), that is.”
Fearing a trick, Uncle Blogsy said, “I don’t have any. These are all boxes of Nooks.”
Only when officials from the United Nations came and offered Uncle Blogsy a job as International Book Fair Manager did he relent. And at the end of July, 2020, at the First International Book Fair, the light of reading was rekindled.