The physical version [of Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century] is vastly more popular than the Kindle edition; people apparently prefer to haul around the 700-page tome, or maybe leave it on the coffee table where guests can see it.Two things about this sentence. One: A common way the media is dismissing this book and its huge impact on American economic thinking is to say that it is popular but not read, it's a book everyone owns but only a few have bothered to open. And so we can expect, this kind of thinking goes, that Americans will come back to their senses once the heat of the fad has cooled and continue life, work, and politics as usual. This kind of dismal is all that's available for the those on the Right because the book's author has too much strong evidence for his case—that inequality is growing after a brief break/disruption in the 20th century—to mount a substantive attack. And the current state of the economics profession simply does not have the tools (historical thinking) to challenge Piketty's position. Mathematics as it is used in much of that sad profession today is only meaningful for those who are sold on the fantasy that it will help them beat the market.
Two: I recently stopped buying books on my Kindle because I found that I would forget them in the cloud, the ether. It turns out that my memory needs the reinforcement of physical books. Mind is about matter. The cover or spine brings a book right back to the center of my thoughts, and I recall its passages, arguments, and ideas. One that is in the Kindle goes unseen and soon vanishes from my life. Indeed, the situation is so bad, I have been buying the physical versions of the e-books on my Kindle. This has been something like a rescue operation.
Let's talk about Thomas Piketty together at Vermillion Gallery tomorrow at 6 pm.