walkitout (walkitout) wrote,

eBook Discourse at Wired

I mentioned earlier that coverage of eBooks has taken a turn: the assumption now is that ebooks are done deal, it's just a matter of time. The skepticism has sort of been wrung out of the articles.

John C Abell at Wired's Epicenter is an example of this, leading with "There are no two ways about it: E-books are here to stay."


That's a juxtaposition: the headline is "not there yet" but the lead sentence is "here to stay". This puts Abell's remarks firmly in the category I've been labeling "minor carping".

Abell produces what CR would call "sample defects" if they were minor problems with a car, rather than errors in an article ("Amazon sparked the e-reader revolution with the first Kindle a mere two-and-a-half years ago" and, notably, "We rejoice at cutting the phone cord"). He produces a short list (5 items) that, if fixed, "there really will be no limits to the e-book’s growth".

The first item is: remind me to finish the book. Hmmm. Okay, _he_ may find the physical presence of a pbook enough to nag him into finishing reading it in a way more effective than finishing an ebook. That hasn't been my experience.

The second item is a problem for people who are buying ebooks from multiple vendors. There may be some problems here, but whatever they might be, they aren't anything worse than back in the day when we had cassette tapes and lps or cassettes and CDs, or VHS and DVDs or two sizes of floppy disk or whatever. It's a transition problem and not a particularly huge one. Software that works under one OS but not another. Etc.

The third item is truly amazing: he wants "a new standard, adopted universally, among competitors whose book tech, unlike paper, is proprietary" that will replace writing in the margins of a book. I'm not sure what to say about that. I know the people that care about writing in their books care _a lot_ about writing in their books, and that the people who believe that book should be virginal care _a lot_ about that, and that a lot of the rest of us are left confused as to what the fuss is about. Thinking this has some impact on selling books? Weird.

The fourth one is kind of funny in the wake of Rich Adin's argument that the price point for ebooks is free, and he doesn't pay for ebooks any more and if he does, he doesn't pay more than a tiny number of dollars: "E-books are positioned as disposable, but aren’t priced that way." Well, it sort of depends on the ebook, now, doesn't it? Anyone who finds it annoying to pay $13 for something that you can otherwise only get in hardcover (for the same, more or less, if not more) is just whining. Have patience, grasshopper. That price will come down in the coming months, as the paperback comes out. It's certainly better than what happens with hardcovers that are past their discounted days, but not yet replaced by paperbacks; those suckers cost full list.

Number 5, however, is why I blogged about this entry: "E-books can’t be used for interior design." Because having all that space for sculptures and art and so forth would just kill us, wouldn't it?
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