Yesterday, I shared how I spent some time flying back from Nashville, TN this past weekend next to a man who was passionate about his Amazon Kindle. He couldn’t stop talking about how great it was, so wonderful every one of his family members had a Kindle he’d purchased for them. When pondering the 2 gig limit on his Kindle, compared to my 4 gig capacity for content, he darkened for a moment before responding, “When I need a book to read, I just go to the Amazon web site and get it. And, I can share the books with my family!” (you can also use services like Lendle, eBook Fling to lend books to others)
Perhaps what was most impressive about the eReader he clutched in his ham-like fist wasn’t how thin and light the device was. Nor that it had a beautiful “skin” or cover on it. What was impressive was how this device had turned this 55 year old man into a raging advocate for his Kindle. I honestly felt I was sitting next to a born-again [pick your religion]. In fact, you could have labelled this guy a born again reader.
More importantly–if such a thing is possible for an avid reader–is the opportunities being able to publish content in digital formats that are easily accessible and marketable (consider the story of John Locke, the author who published a million copies of his book via Amazon).
E-books currently make up around 11 percent of the total book market. The percentage of print book consumers who say they download e-books more than doubled between October 2010 and January 2011—from 5 percent to almost 13 percent. (Source: Paid Content via MindDump)
Wait, wait…putting new wine into old wineskins is problematic, isn’t it? Wouldn’t the converse be true? Well, not necessarily. Digital formats DO offer a lot of flexibility as my daughter, the person at the top of this blog entry and I have discovered. But there ARE problems. These are elaborated on quite well by Richard Stallman on ebooks:
In an age where business dominates our governments and writes our laws, every technological advance offers business an opportunity to impose new restrictions on the public. Technologies that could have empowered us are used to chain us instead…Ebooks need not attack our freedom, but they will if companies get to decide. It’s up to us to stop them. The fight has already started.
When you imagine resurrection, you imagine freedom from the “mortal coil.” When you think of dropping books for ebooks, the mortal coil is best defined as the impossibility of carrying 1000 pages of books around with you, as well as tons of other content. Of course, there are ways to slip the chains off, to unlock content…but should those options be taken?
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