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April 23rd, 2009

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03:11 am - Steven Johnson on Ebooks
mindstalk provided a link to this excellent article about how ebooks may transform reading, it's a good article, and while it may be a bit overenthusiastic, the article is by Steven Johnson, whose works and ideas I respect a great deal. I do know that since the ipod touch got access to kindle books, I'm definitely making the 3rd generation ipod touch (which should have a faster processor, and thus seriously improved internet access) a definite purchase. Now all we need is someone to drop the price of kindle books to the appropriate ratio of 40-50% paperback cost rather than the current 80%, since print and shipping costs don't exist for ebooks. When new SF&F ebooks start costing $3.00-$3.50, I'll be buying many more new books and I'll be buying them as ebooks.
Current Mood: tiredtired

(3 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:April 23rd, 2009 11:11 am (UTC)
Over here some of the prices are _more_ than paperbacks, if those paprebacks have any kind of offer on them.
[User Picture]
Date:April 23rd, 2009 03:14 pm (UTC)
From the article: The bookstore is now following you around wherever you go. A friend mentions a book in passing, and instead of jotting down a reminder to pick it up next time you're at Barnes & Noble, you take out the Kindle and -- voilà! -- you own it.

I've already experienced this, and I have to say it is perhaps the most liberating aspect of owning a Kindle. I can reach into my bag, pull out the Kindle, make a few taps, and have the book in literally seconds. Or, even more compelling: I can download a sample, flip through a few pages, and then delete the sample if I don't like it.

It has also changed my reading patterns. Instead of having the "one book I'm trying to read this month" in my bag, I'm carrying a whole library. I can now have two, three, or four books I'm reading, which means I can put away the hard non-fiction book on my to-read list and open up some poetry.

And, yeah, the pricing certainly sucks. Especially given our access to Powell's and the treasure trove of low-priced books it offers..
[User Picture]
Date:April 30th, 2009 02:02 pm (UTC)
Thanks, that is a good article.

It's interesting to me that he assumes that people will pay for ebooks. Early adopters are paying, but they also paid how many hundreds for an early Kindle? :> I do think that there's some people who will pay, but of course there's also some people who will resist, and I don't think that one's entirely settled. The Kindle is a fort (but one of course to which they give you the key, as all DRM ironically must) so they must not think it's settled either. ;>

I've thought as well about the world he describes where every paragraph of any important work is connectedly dissected and discussed. To imagine that web of commentary existing and being well crawled and organized but continuing to not have the works themselves available as free information-- well it's a self-swallowing absurdity. More and more as the picture becomes clear it forces us to willfully close our eyes and ears to something that's plainly in front of us.

I would prefer that, sooner rather than later, we switched to some economic model which provides clearer signals of value than money. If you reexamine money as a information system, you can see what a terrible job it does of carrying its signal: Book purchasing is a fine example of this, as no one seriously believes that book royalties are proportional to the value of a work. In fact publishers are always systematically undermining the actual value and effect of the work, controlling its distribution, limiting its spread purposefully, in order to maximize the noisy signal coming back to them through money. Money bends the system into crippling defensiveness and self-immolation, by corresponding mostly to impulsive emotive human decisions and only thirdly or fourthly to the economic value of anything.

So I think we should work as soon as possible to begin systematically rewarding true value, based upon careful decisions made with the full range of our human ability and rationality, and not just upon those momentary decisions made in desperation and confusion within an ancient information system which is barely clunking along. Good writing is one of the many activities I believe will only then finally be rewarded as it is due.

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