A U.S. ambassador was just sworn in on a Kindle

June 2, 2014

(@USAinUK via Twitter)

Paper books are on the decline. In 2008, the market for consumer print books was north of $15 billion. Now it's more like $10 billion — and that number is expected to continue falling until it reaches parity with e-book sales at about  $8 billion in 2017.

It's no surprise that with e-books on the rise, more and more public officials will be sworn in on them. On Monday, Suzi LeVine became the first U.S. ambassador (she's the American representative to Switzerland) to be sworn in on an e-reader:

LeVine took the oath on a digital copy of the U.S. Constitution stored on a Kindle Touch. But that's not the only time a digital device has replaced its dead-tree predecessor. In February, New Jersey firefighters were sworn in on an iPad edition of the Bible when nobody could find a version in print.

The month before, a Long Island official did the same.

It won't be long now 'til we see a president take the oath of office by resting his hand on a bunch of pixels. Sure, we'll always have those who prefer the nostalgic choice. Like John Brennan, the director of the CIA, who was sworn in on an original draft of the Constitution. But the private ceremony caused an unexpected ruckus when critics complained that the draft didn't contain the Bill of Rights.

If only the Founders had written in PDFs.

Brian Fung covers technology for The Washington Post, focusing on telecom, broadband and digital politics. Before joining the Post, he was the technology correspondent for National Journal and an associate editor at the Atlantic.
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Brian Fung · June 2, 2014