2011 The Year of the Ebook

I recently bought myself an ebook reader.

One of my best friends, an IT guy, said, “What’s that?”

You can imagine how encouraging this was to me, because I had figured I was buying into the technological wave of the future. But in case, like him, you don’t know, an ebook reader is an electronic device with a screen for reading digital books. The most famous ebook reader is probably the Kindle. The Ipad also reads digital books, but it isn’t designed primarily or solely for that purpose.

I’ll have another post soon reviewing the specific brand and model of reader that I purchased. In the meantime, I thought I’d share why I bought any such thing at all. After all, I am a bibliophile. I love books, libraries and bookstores (more or less in that order). I am an author myself.

I also love technology, so the combination of books and a new electronic gadget was pretty strong temptation.

I think ebooks, and readers to read them is the future of books and publishing. It simply makes too much sense not to become the dominant paradigm. It eliminates many complexities and negative impacts associated with paper books.

A digital book eliminates the environmental destruction of killing trees for paper. It eliminates the manufacturing process for the paper. It eliminates the printer ink, the printing presses, the binding processes, storage, shipping and all kinds of other energy-intensive, expensive, complicated things involved in producing books.

Digital books also carry positives. The process for producing and selling an ebook is immensely simple compared to traditional publishing. The environmental impact is minimal. The cost of production is minimal. And for the consumer it makes so much sense. It is ridiculously portable compared to regular books. It takes almost no storage space.

The only reason ebooks aren’t dominant yet is because the powers-that-be in the publishing industry haven’t yet figured out how to make money with them. The truth is, ebooks are a threat to publishers, because they [the publishers] are not necessary in the current paradigm of e-publishing. They’ll figure out a way to own a big piece of the pie, however.

Some people claim they just love the look, feel and smell of books, and so, could never get used to an ebook reader. In one way, I get this. I like flipping through books at stores and libraries. But in another way, it reminds of some people back in the 80’s when answering machines were first used. They used to say “I can’t stand the thought of talking to a machine.” They seemed to think this made them sound cultured and noble. I always thought it made them sound like they needed some kind of therapy.


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