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Have you faced Kindle prejudice?

August 3, 2010 |  6:30 am

Have you experienced anti-Kindle prejudice? New York Times writer Nick Bilton has. On Monday, he went to a Manhattan coffee shop, placed an order, sat down and pulled out his Kindle. As he explains in a blog post at the paper, this is what happened next:

I barely made it a sentence into the e-book I was reading before an employee of the coffee shop came by, stood over me and said, “Excuse me sir, but we don’t allow computers in the coffee shop.”

I looked up at him with an incredulous look and replied, “This isn’t a computer, it’s an e-book reader.”

He then told me that the “device” in my hand had a screen and required batteries, so it was obviously “some variation of a computer.”

And it wasn't just Manhattan, or the Kindle. At a Brooklyn sandwich shop, he ran into a similar debate about the use of his iPad. Bilton continues:

The employee there said no computers were allowed between noon and 3 p.m. After another lengthy defense of e-readers and screens, I lost, again, and sat there resentfully picking at my sandwich.

There is a certain type of person who works with a computer at a public shop -- a coffee shop, or a sandwich shop -- and stays for hours. I have, on occasion, been that person. I tend to feel bad about taking up space for too long, and then buy too many cups of coffee, after which I get so jittery I have to leave, which means I don't take up space for all that long after all. But apparently my pathology isn't so common in New York. In fact, the problem of computer-using squatters is so bad that the Brooklyn sandwich shop has posted signs that read, "No computer use at this table, Noon-3pm."

Signs and guilt aside, it seems that someone who's got his nose buried in the 1,088-page "Under the Dome" in paperback is as likely to stay put reading as the person who becomes absorbed by  Stephen King on a Kindle. 

If computer use is the problem, I can see why the iPad, with its other features, might set off alarms. But why the zero-tolerance for the Kindle? Have you been some place where your Kindle wasn't welcome? Have you been told your Kindle is not allowed?

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: James Joyce is displayed on a Kindle DX, held by Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos at a press conference on May 6, 2009. Credit:  Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images

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