I have all of my RSS feeds in one place, accessible from werk, home or wherever.
What I Hate About Google Reader
Unless I tag each entry, going back and finding one that I've been thinking about, is time-consuming and frustrating.
What Any of That Has to Do With This Post
I've read a lot of posts on e-Books lately. Some posts have been, I think, well though-out. Others, not so much. I'd like to quote from all of them, but, alas, there's only so much time in the day and I'm not very consistent at tagging blog posts.
I spend my 40-hour-a-week, paycheck generating part of my life doing IT stuff for a well-respected University Press. We've been wrestling with issues surrounding e-Books since I've been working here. I won't say that I think about e-Books on a daily basis, but they've been a continual thought for the past five years.
One line I was able to track down, thanks to having copied and pasted the quote, was from the BookEnds LLC Agency blog. The posting was in response to someone who wrote in to them about e-books. The question included the statement "the inevitable death of the paper book" as if print books are already on life support and some greedy relative from the e-book
I don't believe in "the inevitable death of the paper book." Certainly not in my lifetime, anyway. In the extreme, I liken bound, printed books to the long-playing (LP) album. In the 80s, when CDs first came out, people started abandoning the LP in favor of the CD. CDs were more portable and took up less storage space and, more importantly, offered better sound quality . However, there are still LP aficionados out there who prefer the warmth of the sound that LPs have that CDs do not. (I still have my album collection and a turntable to listen to them with)
e-Books have portability and less storage space issues clearly on their side, but they don't (as of yet) offer a better reading experience than the printed book*.
In fact, in a 2009 NY Times article, an electronics store owner discusses the resurgence of vinyl album and turntable sales. Says Rachelle Friedman, co-owner of J&R,
“New customers are discovering the quality of the sound. They’re discovering liner notes and graphics.”
In other words, consumers are re-discovering elements of LPs that create a better listening experience than that provided by CDs.
In more general terms, I think the pervasiveness of the printed, bound Book in our lives and in our world is so extensive that removing that cultural artifact will be harder than most people expect. Yes, the next generations will grow up with the expectation of being able to read content digitally on an e-Reader (just as the younger generations now expect to have computers and the internet available to them). However, I don't see public schools getting the funding to purchase e-Readers for each child anytime soon. to get written content. As a civilization, we'll still grow up reading books for generations.
One of the things that made the movie Blade Runner so visually authentic for me was the way directory Ridley Scott populated his vision of the future with elements of the futuristic society (hover cars, advertising blimps, etc) and elements from the age in which the film was made (a 1970s car can be seen on the streets, for instance).
If you look around you there are signs of older technologies all around us. You can still find typewriters in many offices, even though computers are far easier to work on. Antique cars are still on the roads, even though newer cars are safer and more fuel efficient. We build on our past, we don't throw it out.
New technologies and new formats do not automatically sound the death knell of any previous technology. Period.
My LPs sit alongside my CDs, which sit, virtually, next to my mp3s. And if I ever buy an e-Reader, it will sit comfortably, somewhere in the stack of books on my bedside table.
* I know this is changing. The iPad version of "Alice in Wonderland" sounds like a fun reading experience. At the well-respected University Press where I work I've been involved in working with one of our books, a history of the Blues, to take the content of the accompanying audio and video discs that come with the printed version and integrate them into the text of the e-Book.