Monday, June 16, 2008


I was just reading Henry Carrigan’s report on this years Book Expo America at in which he claims that the Amazon Kindle is a sure sign that the book industry is in trouble.

Perhaps the clearest sign that there’s trouble in River City is a booth for Amazon’s Kindle—which is not a book, of course, but an electronic device for transforming digital equations into pixels that resemble the page of a book—nestled alongside the publishers’ booths at BEA. I’m no Luddite trading in apocalyptic proclamations, but it’s a bit ironic (not lost to those canny enough to look at their surroundings this year in LA) for the product that’s touted to replace the book to be nudging up against those books. It’s a little like placing a booth for a slaughterhouse next to the horse stables at the fair.

The ebook is touted to replace the book? It certainly depends on what you mean by “book”. If book only encompasses books made out of paper perhaps that is correct but isn’t it really just the medium that is changing? And is this really damaging to authors or just those that deal in the supply and demand of paper books. Ebooks are a new technology. Just like the monks in the scriptorium copying books by hand, perhaps paper books will be replaced by a digital format, but I don’t think that means the end of books. I am not an author but it appears that some authors and publishers are embracing the new technology. For example, Tor (the well known scifi publisher) releases most of its books in ebook form and at the moment is giving away some of their books in ebook format to promote their new web site. As a reader I am much more likely to try a copy of a free ebook that I can quickly and easily download, perhaps blog about it and recommend it to others in the blogosphere and you have all this free publicity. Of course this works with paper copies too but I just don’t see the ebook format hurting authors or publishers if they choose to use it. And lets not forget that all those Kindle new releases are sold, not given away free.

I personally love my ebook (not a Kindle). My husband was very excited about getting me one because he had hoped that it would do away with all the books taking up too much room in the house. We were both unsure how we would like it but both enjoy it’s ability to hold many books, it’s instant gratification allowing you to download a book at any time and it’s reading comfort being lighter than most books and giving you the ability to change the font size. Years ago I kept every single book that I read. After a major move I got rid of half of my books and have gradually pared my book collection down to two book cases of mostly to be read books. I do have a couple shelves of my absolute favorite books that I keep but in general I do not keep books anymore once I have read them. It’s not the physical book that is the essence of the book but the story and enjoyment and or enlightenment that I received by reading the book that matter. Whether I read it as an ebook or a paper book I get the same enjoyment from the book. I don’t think the ebook will mean the death of books, indeed I am hopeful that it will mean that people read more.

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