Its now possible. Think, less than 10 years ago, the full 20 book Oxford dictionary would take up nearly 1 metre on your shelf, now we have the internet, our mobiles, tablets, and [pause here for effect] eBook readers.
To start, let me tell you the amusing story about how I came to write this post. It was Thursday morning in an ICT lesson, and the issue on discussion was eBooks. The homework was to work together in pairs and blog about an assigned topic, such as publishers or libraries. As my teacher was going around the class, assigning the topics and pairs, he came to me, being last in the register. He said, “and Nic, you’re on your own and your writing about [dramatic pause] everything!” So, in my customary way, I am sitting here on a Friday evening, typing whatever comes into my head. I always like a challenge! There was another post planned, but that will have to wait until next week.
eBooks, what are they [was one of the questions asked]? They are electronic books, capable of being read where a device supports it. The most popular examples, the Amazon Kindle and the Sony eReader. The latter kinda failed, being a Sony product, but the Kindle took off like the Saturn V rocket. I personally own one. I choose a book, pay for it using the “family” Amazon account, of which I only know the password, and am reading within seconds. To be honest, I only take my kindle on holiday; most of the time it is underneath my bed, hidden from the annoying, little, devious troll that is my sister. I always, however, have 3 things with me: my MacBook, iPhone and iPad, on all of which I can read the book I downloaded on the kindle. Huge benefit for me, considering I always loose the physical book. I am also a lazy person and I do not like going out to buy things. My philosophy: “Buy it on Amazon”. Unfortunately, up until now, I was unable to implement that philosophy if I needed a book urgently. Now, instead of lugging myself to the bookshop, I buy it from Amazon! Oh, and its cheaper as well, considering we need to pay for parking at the shopping center. Also, out of copyright books are available for free, such as the Iliad and Odyssey. One more final thing, I can sync bookmarks and notes! Yay!
Moving on to the disadvantages. Most of these are from the oldies, stuck in their ways. The biggest argument is that people like ‘the physical feel of a book in your hands’. Technology is advancing, get used to it! Another oldie complaint is that they like going to the bookshop and choosing a book. Well, you do that then, but there is an issue that I have, entitled DRM. Digital Rights Management. Sounds evil, right? It is. Its just more licensing crap. When you buy a physical book, you can share it with other people and they can read it, you cannot do that with a digital book. Its all just a load of bull. I know that companies have the ability and initiative to allow a book to be shared, in such a way that only 1 copy (or reading permission) exists. See where I am getting at? Basicaly, you can share a book that you bought, but you cannot read the book while the other person is reading it. It’s only until the other person clicks “unshare” when you can read it.
Continuing on from the eBook reader, lets take a look at how this is affecting industries. Apple, Amazon and Sony all benefit from this; however, the big campaigners agains eBooks are the libraries, bookshops and (not so much) publishers. For libraries, this poses a threat, as why would I want to go to a library and wait until a book is available, and then borrow it with the impending possibility of an overdue notice. Too much stress in the digital era! Obvious reasons for bookshops, even though some larger chains have begun offering downloads of books in the ePub format, the universal eBook standard. These have been largely unsuccessful. For publishers, it is becoming harder for them to earn a profit, as there is now a large middleman, taking all the profit. Amazon eBook sales have already surpassed all time physical book sales! But the bigger problem is that people are not going to the publishers anymore to get their book out there. I can write a book, reformat it into ePub and send it to Amazon to sell. No more publisher = more money for me!
All in all, eBooks are the way forward. I don’t think bookstores are going away anytime soon, seeing as the Sony reader is dependent on their online offerings, but I think that Amazon will take over the book market, like they did with online retail. I have purposefully left out iBooks here, Apple’s system, as I think that it will fail due to the sole fact that Apple do not produce an device designed for reading using that special eInk display. Get familiar with Amazon folks, they are going to be around for a while, and to all those people who don’t like technology engulfing our lives, I say to them with a small smirk, get used to it.