A New Kind of Reading Experience

'Books Aren't Dead': Readers of our cover story on going digital had serious reservations about Amazon's new e-reader, the Kindle. Many were underwhelmed. One said, "A printed book is great. When I'm done, I can donate it, keep it or hand it off to a friend." Another added, "Re-reading and owning my favorite books gives me joy. I thought, of all people, Amazon's Jeff Bezos understood." Yet one had a heartening message. "Fear not, bookworms. Our books shall live forever. They're just going through a transition for the larger benefit of all book addicts."

On 'Princess Power': "I like that Disney is selling the princesses to women like me: empowerment and pretty dresses need not be mutually exclusive. Cooler still would be Disney 'Historical Heroines' with Mulan, Pocahontas and Susan B. Anthony."
Katharine Tapely
Worcester, Mass.

When Books Go Digital
As an avid reader, i applaud the idea of being able to package multiple books in Amazon's small, user-friendly e-reader, the Kindle, but I'm not entirely convinced that the Kindle could "take me down the rabbit hole" ("The Future of Reading," Nov. 26). However, as a high-school teacher, I think the Kindle could be the answer to a prayer for students, parents and staff. In the vast majority of schools there is a lack of money and storage space for adequate numbers of appropriate texts. Every day students struggle to carry upwards of 50 pounds of books from home and around campus; many texts are lost, damaged or out of date. Imagine if students had all textbooks at their fingertips, and instant Internet capability to look up references. If school texts could be downloaded onto a Kindle, it would revolutionize the lives of millions.
Diana Matter
Alamogordo, N.M.

I am 19 and a product of the digital age: I have gone through seven computers, four cell phones, two digital cameras, a Walkman, a Discman and an iPod. But I refuse to see a book digitized. Amazon's Jeff Bezos is wrong in assuming that we fanatical readers love only the words and ideas; reading a book is an entire process. Pointing and clicking will never hold the same satisfaction as browsing the shelves at a library or bookstore, nor will the Kindle be able to capture the feeling you get as the pages dwindle, and you don't know whether to hurry up to find out how it ends or slow down and savor every word. I plan on sticking with glue, ink and paper.
Beth Papworth
Westerville, Ohio

E-books would not be appropriate for one large category of books: publications where quality illustrations are important. How would a book about Frank Lloyd Wright or Michelangelo show up on the small-format handheld? To accommodate my field, the history of art, and many others where illustrations are essential, e-books would have to be too large to be practical.
James K. Kettlewell
Professor Emeritus, Skidmore College
Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

For this writer, the day i start composing with the "community" as my editors, "wiki style" or otherwise, is the day you can shoot me. Steven Levy's article on digital books is provocative, but surely he must realize just how tenacious writers are about using their own—and no one else's—material. It may be harder to publish serious literature these days, readership may be decreasing and the world may be going digital, but there's still that driving pride of sole authorship and, yes, seeing the original on honest-to-God paper pages.
Steven Schwartz
Ft. Collins, Colo.

Feeding the Hungry
I share Anna Quindlen's disgust with our religious and political leaders for their failure to solve the problems of hunger, poverty and homelessness in America ("Blessed Is the Full Plate," Nov. 26). It is a moral outrage—indeed, a crime and a sin—that millions of our fellow Americans must Dumpster-dive and live in cardboard boxes while leaders fight over philosophical issues and the rich cry because their tax rates might increase to the levels of secretaries and janitors. We should all hang our heads in shame for allowing this to be.
Steve Metzger
Barnstead, N.H.

Anna Quindlen's piece on the Church of the Holy Apostles was sobering, moving and painful. Where I live, two organizations have been feeding the poor for years: Glide Memorial Church and St. Anthony's Dining Room. They do yeoman work. The day I see any candidate or those in office, particularly on the federal level, behind a table doling out food to those in need, they will get my support and my vote. The problem seems to be that with all the cant and rhetoric, we ultimately don't care. And that goes for the excessively wealthy and those who could afford to contribute more but ignore the problems facing us.
Colin Thurlow
San Francisco, Calif.

Time for a Revamped GI Bill
The federal government has once again shown its true colors in how poorly it is treating our returning veterans. These men and women deserve the best opportunity to pick up where they left off when they volunteered to serve their country, and shouldn't have to incur large debt or choose not to attend college due to financial constraints ("A Learning Disability," Nov. 26). I am also disappointed in our colleges and universities for not picking up where government has left off and offering these vets a reduced-price or free education. Who better to have on campus than smart, mature, dedicated young people who really want an education? They deserve much better than what they are getting from us. I have two sons in college, and we get little financial aid. Still, I have no problem with having these schools offer our veterans a "free ride" for four years. Are there any university administrators out there with enough guts to start this ball rolling?
Gail Meyer
Saranac Lake, N.Y.

The GI bill was never meant solely for education. For all intents and purposes, the GI Bill (the Servicemen's Readjustment Act) was a way to prevent a depression after World War II. Throughout U.S. history, an economic slump had occurred at the conclusion of every war. FDR was adamant that it not happen again. As a result of this act, and a confluence of events, America saw great prosperity from the end of the 1940s through the 1950s. According to studies on the GI Bill, the country has continually benefited. The government has received a minimum return on its investment at an 8:1 ratio, which has often climbed to 10:1. Service members who use the GI Bill advance to a higher tax bracket, create businesses (which create jobs) and are more stable members of the community. I was a Marine for 22 years and used the GI Bill to get a bachelor's degree; I am now working toward my master's. My brothers, one an Air Force veteran and the other a retired Marine, have college educations similar to mine paid for by the GI Bill. Americans need to view education as an investment in our country. Service members have already shown they are willing to serve and defend America. It's about time Congress served our military members by updating a dysfunctional GI Bill.
Frank Buday
Swansboro, N.C.

Of Two Very Differing Opinions
In reading Karl Rove's laundry list for beating Hillary Clinton, I noted that missing were his usual tactics of spreading misinformation, eviscerating opponents, disenfranchising legitimate voters and outing CIA agents ("How to Beat Hillary [Next] November," Nov. 26). As the disgraced puppeteer behind a corrupt and increasingly irrelevant administration, he doesn't deserve yet more exposure. Shame on NEWSWEEK for giving him a voice.
Joanna C. Rodriguez
Jacksonville, Fla.

A national opinion forum for Karl Rove? It will take a generation to undo what Rove and his minions have wrought on the United States. Editor Jon Meacham absurdly compares Rove to George Stephanopoulos in defending his decision to include him in the magazine. Stephanopoulos has always been a decent, hardworking public servant. Rove has always been a manipulative operative who will lie at every turn to serve himself and a political party gone mad. Then there's the weak, "balancing" defense of having Markos Moulitsas of Daily Kos represent the opposing political view ("Make the Bush Record the Issue"). Outside of the progressive blogging community, Markos is barely known, while Rove has had a high profile for nearly a decade. On your Web site, Meacham says his goal is to "illuminate" by hiring Rove. Will readers be illuminated as former White House press secretary Scott McClellan was when he said Rove misled him in the Valerie Plame affair? Your choice of Rove is a disservice to decent Republicans and Democrats and contributes nothing to the national dialogue.
Dennis Shreefer
Lima, Ohio

I am shocked and disappointed that NEWSWEEK would give Karl Rove a podium from which to spread more of his lies and invective. This man, the handler behind George W. Bush, a member of the triumvirate who led this country into a horrible war in Iraq, with blood on his hands for tens of thousands of American and Iraqi dead, this man who was allegedly behind the smear campaigns of at least three honorable veterans (Sen. John Kerry, Rep. John Murtha and former senator Max Cleland)—Rove never served his country except to pull the strings of a figurehead president. I'm aghast that you would give Rove a column after all he's done to wreck our economy and ruin so many lives.
Beth Giordano
Marlton, N.J.

The Racist History of the Noose
Ellis Cose aptly characterizes noose wielders as fools deserving contempt ("Ignore the Noosemakers," Nov. 5). But as head of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the federal agency responsible for combating workplace discrimination, I see such misconduct as a serious and continuing problem. The prevalence of noose incidents in recent weeks serves as a reminder of the persistence of racism in the 21st century. Race has consistently represented the most frequently filed basis in charges of discrimination, and this trend shows no signs of abating. In fiscal year 2006, the EEOC received 27,238 charges of race-based discrimination—36 percent of our private-sector caseload. In addition, color-discrimination charges have almost quadrupled over the past 15 years, rising from 374 in fiscal year 1992 to 1,241 in fiscal year 2006. The EEOC launched the E-RACE (Eradicating Racism and Colorism From Employment) Initiative in February to address existing and emerging race and color issues—including the presence of nooses—in the workplace. Working together, we can make workplaces tolerant and inclusive.
Naomi C. Earp, Chair
U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Washington, D.C.