The Kindle and electronic books

2009-02-26

in Books and literature, Economics, Geek stuff, Internet matters, Writing

Ottawa bus stop in winter

In a recent article about Amazon’s Kindle e-book reader, The Economist declared that:

It seems likely that, eventually, only books that have value as souvenirs, gifts or artefacts will remain bound in paper.

Despite being a big fan of electronic content delivery systems, I wholeheartedly disagree with this assessment. There are considerable advantages to having a personal library of physical books, and there are big disadvantages to taking your books in electronic format.

Physical books possess the many advantages of immediacy. One can display them and quickly glance through the whole collection. One can take notes in them, mark pages, stack them, pass them to others, and so forth. Collections of books are also physical representations of the reading a person has done. I often find that, when I first find myself in someone’s house, flat, or bedroom, their collection of books is the first thing I scrutinize. There is a reason why the personal libraries of intellectuals and political leaders are objects of interest, and I don’t think they would retain the same importance if they consisted of a bunch of PDF or text files.

Electronic books have the same disadvantages as other electronic media: you can’t be confident that they will be intact and accessible decades from now. Furthermore, they are often hobbled with digital rights management (DRM), which means you can never be sure that you can use them on future devices, or in various ways you might wish to. A library stored on a small device may be easier to transport, but it is a lot less trustworthy, durable, and reliable than one that you need to cart around in a heavy collection of boxes.

Electronic books can certainly complement physical ones. It would, for instance, be very valuable to be able to search electronic copies of books you own. A custom search engine, containing all the books in one’s library and that one has borrowed, would be excellent for tracking down particular passages or conducting general research. Partly for these synergistic reasons, and partly for the reasons listed above, I don’t think physical books are ever likely to become rare.

I do see much more promise for electronic periodicals. Hardly anybody wants to keep physical copies of their newspaper or magazine subscriptions on hand: especially when they are available in an easily searchable form online. If I got a Kindle, it would be for the wireless newspaper and Wikipedia access, not for the $10 book downloads.

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{ 47 comments… read them below or add one }

Tristan February 26, 2009 at 8:34 am

I entirely agree. Possibly what I like most about books is they enable me to get away from my computer.

From my personal experience, one doesn’t think the same way while typing as one does when writing out longhand. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was also difference between reading off a screen and reading a physical text, especially since physical texts enable notes to be written in the margins.

Litty February 26, 2009 at 8:50 am

It’s funny to imagine you finding yourself in someone’s bedroom for the first time and immediately starting to look over the book collection.

R.K. February 26, 2009 at 11:26 am

I like the idea of the Kindle, but $350 is just too much.

After all, you can get a netbook for that much, these days. You wouldn’t have the e-ink screen or the free cellular internet access (for some purposes only), but you would have a lot more flexibility.

alena February 26, 2009 at 11:47 am

I have volunteered at a library for more than 20 years and have noticed that people are reading much less . Graphic art novels seem to be the only popular ones for a vast majority of high school readers. Of course, there are some passionate exceptions to this, but they are a minority. The electronic books that we now have are not used at all. I have recently read Frankenstein on line, and later I got a hard copy. It was a completely different experience for me. I form an emotional relationship with a book, with its feel in my hands and the ability to retreat under a tree or a soft couch to enjoy it. I may just be an old-fashioned romantic.

Milan February 26, 2009 at 11:52 am

The Kindle would be ideal for academic journals – far, far better than a stack of photocopies on top of one’s filing cabinet.

An academic version would let you search through them, save snippets, and create citations automatically in whatever format you want. It would also be able to access your institution’s e-journal subscriptions automatically.

That may be too much of a niche market for a consumer device like the Kindle, but it would be an ideal modification for an open source successor.

coyote February 26, 2009 at 1:30 pm

Well said. Kindles may have their uses, but print on actual paper remains a popular technology just because it is so portable, accessible, uncomplicated and unfettered by piss-offs such as power umbilicals. I, would never read as many books as I do, if I had to keep replacing or recharging batteries.

And that old parlour game about what five or ten books you would most want to have with you on a desert island? Don’t think that works with a Kindle. Unless you have accessory crates of batteries, or a generator and far too much gasoline…

Hella Stella February 26, 2009 at 2:27 pm

I totally agree! Then again, I am addicted to buying books….

R.K. February 26, 2009 at 2:37 pm

I have to admit – the Kindle would be pretty great for travel or for people who commute long distances by bus or train. It is compact, has a long battery life, and can download new content on the fly.

Using a laptop on a bus or plane is often impossible, and always inconvenient. The Kindle is a better formfactor than a clamshell machine – even a netbook.

P.S. $359.00 is the US price. In Canadian, that’s more like $446.34 Canadian, plus shipping and taxes.

Milan February 26, 2009 at 2:41 pm

As far as I can tell, the wireless coverage doesn’t extend to Canada, anyhow.

. February 26, 2009 at 3:24 pm

February 26, 2009, 1:42 pm
Sony PRS-700: The Other e-Reader

The Kindle may have scored all the press this week, but it’s not the only e-book reader. The Sony Reader debuted way back in 2006, and has been quietly chugging along ever since, steadily improving with each edition. I thought it was only fair to take a look at the latest version.

Sony loaned me its top-of-the-line Reader, the PRS-700 ($400, or $40 more than the Kindle) for testing. Right away, you can spot two enormous advantages over the Kindle.

Tristan February 26, 2009 at 4:04 pm

Personally, I think netbooks are great. Ones newer than mine even have larger keyboards, which would make typing a lot easier, especially for extended durations.

I realize it’s heavy on trees, but I really enjoy having my academic articles printed out, with big margins, so I can make lots of notes and underlines, etc… Maybe one day I’ll get a filing cabinet so they aren’t thrown out after I’m finished with them.

. February 26, 2009 at 4:17 pm

Amazon Kindle 2 review
by Joshua Topolsky for engadget

. February 26, 2009 at 5:29 pm

Why Kindle 2’s Screen Took 12 Years and $150 Million
“Critics are eating up everything about Amazon’s Kindle 2 e-book reader except its $359 price tag. But if you think that’s expensive, take a look behind the Kindle at E Ink, the Cambridge, MA, company that has spent $150 million since 1997 developing the electronic paper display that is the Kindle’s coolest feature. In the company’s first interview since the Kindle 2 came out, E Ink CEO Russ Wilcox says it took far longer than expected to make the microcapsule-based e-paper film not only legible, but durable and manufacturable. Now that the Kindle 2 is finally getting readers to take e-books seriously, however, Wilcox says he sees a profitable future in which many book, magazine, and newspaper publishers will turn to e-paper, if only to save money on printing and delivery. (Silicon Alley Insider recently calculated that the New York Times could save more than $300 million a year by shutting down its presses and buying every subscriber a Kindle). ‘What we’ve got here is a technology that could be saving the world $80 billion a year,’ Wilcox says.”

. February 26, 2009 at 6:11 pm

Fear the Kindle
Amazon’s amazing e-book reader is bad news for the publishing industry.

By Farhad Manjoo
Posted Thursday, Feb. 26, 2009, at 5:14 PM ET

It’s hard not to love Amazon’s new e-book reader. For starters, it’s gorgeous. Unlike its bulky predecessor, the redesigned $359 Kindle, which came out this week, is light, thin, and disappears in your hands. If you think there’s no way you could ever get used to curling up with an electronic reader, you haven’t given the Kindle a chance. Load up a good book and you’ll soon forget you’re reading plastic rather than paper. You’ll also wonder how you ever did without it. The Kindle makes buying, storing, and organizing your favorite books and magazines effortless. You can take your entire library with you wherever you go and switch from reading the latest New Yorker to the latest best-seller without rolling out of bed. In my few days using it, I was won over: The Kindle is the future of publishing.

. February 26, 2009 at 6:12 pm

“In exchange for this convenience, though, the Kindle locks you down with more rules than the Army Field Manual. The Kindle won’t let you resell or share your books. Anything you buy through the reader is fixed to your Amazon account, readable only on the Kindle or other devices that Amazon may one day deem appropriate. (The company has hinted that it’ll build an iPhone app that can read Kindle books.) Even worse, you can buy books for your Kindle only from Amazon’s store. Indeed, the device makes it difficult to read anything that’s not somehow routed through Amazon first—you can surf the Web on the Kindle, and you can convert some of your personal Microsoft Word or text files to the device’s format, but doing so is slow and not very reliable. In order to read blogs, magazines, newspapers, and books, you’ve really got to go through Amazon’s store first.”

oleh February 26, 2009 at 7:52 pm

I also get a visceral satisfaction from reading the paper copy (especially hard-bound) copy of a book.

I share your interest in reviewing the bookshelves in homes that I visit.

The early morning photo of the bus stop at Lebreton flats was quite familiar from my visit of November 12.

Mark February 26, 2009 at 8:07 pm

For academic papers, something like Kindle would be potentially awesome. To really work for me though, I would have to be able to draw on it. The main reason I am surrounded by a sea of paper is that I can’t easily scribble notes on a PDF.
More generally, I would be very sad to see the demise of bookshelves. Bookshelves are like memory – every book reminds me of the places I’ve been, things I’ve thought in the past. And like Milan says, it’s always the most fascinating thing when visiting somebody’s house.

Litty February 26, 2009 at 8:44 pm

Note to self: eggheads in your bedroom will judge you by your books.

Emily February 26, 2009 at 9:25 pm

I love buying used books because of the notes that people make in the margins. I’ve also found essays folded up in a couple of them, which is a bit like finding a treasure.

I have a bible from 1852 that has old 19th century sermons folded up in its pages, along with pressed leaves, flowers and even a funeral invitation – along with notes and underlined passages. The neat thing about a paper book is, like Alena mentioned, you live with it both mentally and physically.

I have some of my grandmother’s books from when she was studying English in university, and it’s fascinating to read her notes.

I do think that the electronic reader is a good idea as a companion in academia. No more 200 dollar books to lug around with you.

mek February 26, 2009 at 11:19 pm

DRM is, as usual, the Achilles’ heel of new tech – why companies continue to believe that DRM has commercial benefits is beyond me. Imagine if your iPod would only play songs you bought via iTunes – nobody would use them! And $359 is the price of a laptop these days. The only benefit to a Kindle I can see is battery life, and to some extent, readability – but I have never had that issue personally.

If Amazon wants these to take off they should be selling them to break even, or even at a loss, and make up the difference on the e-books themselves (and the increased market penetration). The NYT anecdote in the Slate article is bang-on – you could make money by giving these things away, so why $359 in this economy? Stupid.

Milan February 27, 2009 at 10:53 am

The DRM is definitely the worst aspect of the Kindle.

I am not going to buy any kind of content that I cannot trust to work in ten years, or on the next generation of devices.

Tristan February 27, 2009 at 12:53 pm

I think there are really good alternatives to Kindle in the netbook range. I saw an MSI “wind” at staples a few months ago – it has a good sized screen and decent keyboard. If I didn’t already have a netbook, I’d find it pretty difficult to not choose one from amongst the excellent options out now.

Milan February 27, 2009 at 1:08 pm

The formfactor and purpose of the Kindle vary considerably from netbooks. For one thing, the e-ink screen is very different from a backlit LCD. Supposedly, it is dramatically better for long-term reading. For another, a flat thin panel is quite different from a small clamshell. I expect a netbook is little more useful on a bus or plane than a full-sized laptop.

I can see reasons for which both types of device have value, but I don’t think they are really alternatives to one another.

Milan February 27, 2009 at 1:27 pm

The Staples website has two versions of the MSI Wind, for $449 and $549 respectively. While I might pay $200 for a netbook, I can’t imagine spending $500 or so. After all, you can get a full-sized laptop that is enormously superior in every sense except size for not much more than that.

The ideal option would be an open-source Kindle equivalent for under $200, with an e-ink display and flat body. A more expensive model could incorporate a cellular modem.

. February 28, 2009 at 11:31 am

Amazon Caves On Kindle 2 Text-To-Speech

On Wednesday we discussed news that the Authors Guild had objected to the text-to-speech function on Amazon’s Kindle 2, claiming that it infringed on audio book copyright. Today, Amazon said that while the feature is legally sound, they would be willing to disable text-to-speech on a title-by-title basis at the rightsholder’s request. “We have already begun to work on the technical changes required to give authors and publishers that choice. With this new level of control, publishers and authors will be able to decide for themselves whether it is in their commercial interests to leave text-to-speech enabled. We believe many will decide that it is.”

Milan February 28, 2009 at 11:34 am

As the story immediately above shows, when you buy content on a device like the Kindle, the seller (and some third parties) can take away the rights you bought after the fact.

It’s akin to all the photos in your hardcover suddenly being blacked out at the order of the publisher.

. March 9, 2009 at 4:07 pm

Adobe’s ADEPT DRM Broken

“I love cabbages has reverse-engineered Adobe’s ADEPT DRM (e-book protection). On February 18, I love cabbages released code that decrypts EPUB e-books protected with ADEPT and followed that up on February 25, with code that decrypts PDF e-books protected with ADEPT. On March 4, I love cabbages was given a DMCA take down notice. And there’s plenty of evidence he got it right. DS:TNG (Dmitry Sklyarov: The Next Generation)?”

Milan April 23, 2009 at 10:30 am

Apparently, the screen on the Kindle costs $60 to manufacture.

. July 17, 2009 at 9:13 pm

Amazon zaps purchased copies of Orwell’s 1984 and Animal Farm from Kindles

By Mark Frauenfelder on Book

People who bought Orwell’s 1984 and Animal Farm for their Kindle were surprised to discover that it had disappeared from their devices overnight. It turns out the publisher changed its mind about offering an electronic version, and Amazon caved into their demand to sneak into people’s electronic libraries and take back the book at the publisher’s request.

. July 20, 2009 at 10:50 am

Amazon’s Orwellian deletion of Kindle books
By Cory Doctorow on Gadgets

While I was off for my birthday weekend, Amazon gave me a little present: a ready-made object lesson in the dangers of digital rights management for ebooks. Hundreds of readers who’d bought the “Works of George Orwell” found that the books had become un-books, vanishing from their Kindles. The books’ owners got a credit for the $5 purchase price and a note saying Amazon had had a dispute with the books’ publisher and decided to take it away.

Orwell’s works are in the public domain in many parts of the world, but not in the USA, which has an incredibly long term of copyright. A publisher specializing in bringing public domain books into print put its whole catalog on Amazon, who then got a copyright notice from the people who control the Orwell literary estate. Amazon decided to resolve the dispute by taking the Orwellian step of un-selling the books from its customers’ devices, sending them down the memory hole.

. July 20, 2009 at 10:51 am

Mad Kane’s got commentary in limerick form:

Have you noticed your e-book list dwindle?
You’re probably using a Kindle.
A book that you bought
Has turned into naught —
Replaced with a refund. No swindle?

Yet the seller invaded your house.
And did it by clicking a mouse.
Something’s there. Then it’s not.
(An Orwellian plot?)
You’re surely entitled to grouse.

Matt August 3, 2010 at 2:46 am

I’m commenting here due to a redirection from the Inundated With Books Thread.

While some of the reasons against ereaders are legitimate (specifically DRM which could be cirumvented and price), the majority seem to be nostalgia related! The preference for the feel of a paper book is based only on our past experiences. Our kids or grandkids will likely not care. As well, objections such as “Collections of books are also physical representations of the reading a person has done” and “There is a reason why the personal libraries of intellectuals and political leaders are objects of interest” are of almost zero importance. Using books as trophies to show off how much reading one has done seems snobbish, and we could just as easily ask Obama what’s on his Kindle as opposed to what physical books are in his library. Also, boxes of books are not any more durable than hard drives or optical discs of data. They are subject to age, water, insect and fire damage.

I don’t think the pros of e-readers have been sufficiently covered: The biggest is paper usage. Paper is extremely energy intensive to manufacture and it comes from a tree. Also, it’s heavy and there is substantial fuel consumed to transport it.

The next one is portability. You can carry entire libraries of books on an e-reader. Another pro is the immediacy in which content is available. Anyway, I like the idea very much, and I love the screens e-readers offer. I’ve used a Kindle 2, and didn’t care for the processing power and some aspects of the execution, but I believe the concept to be sound and think the devices will continually improve.

Milan August 9, 2010 at 10:27 am

Books don’t strike me as a waste of paper. If I buy a couple of books a month, and eventually read and keep them all, that is a small part of my total paper usage and a non-existent part of my personal trash production.

It may be nostalgic to like physical books, but the same is true of many things people enjoy. Why do expensive watches use complicated physical movements, when quartz is cheaper and more accurate?

I certainly see why people like e-readers, but when it comes to my personal reading, they are not for me.

. August 26, 2010 at 3:41 pm

“In the world of copy-protected e-books, choosing a reader is a particularly momentous decision. You’re not just buying a portable reader. You’re also committing to a particular online e-book store, since in general, each company’s e-books don’t work on other companies’ readers. (The one exception: Sony and the Nook use the same copy-protection scheme.) Even on the new Kindle, you can’t read nonprotected books in the popular ePub format, as you can on its rivals.

(However, Amazon and Barnes & Noble each offer excellent reader programs for Mac, Windows, iPhone, iPad and Android; in other words, you don’t actually have to buy a Kindle or a Nook to read those companies’ e-books. Buy a book once, read it on all your gadgets. Kindle books even wirelessly sync up, so each gadget remembers where you stopped — a feature that’s still on the Nook’s to-do list.) “

Milan September 1, 2010 at 6:15 pm

Electronic books could actually cause a lot of damage, by undermining the longstanding legal situation in which people can quote freely from books in their own works, without tracking down intellectual property owners:

The [Google Books] deal constructs a world in which control can be exercised at the level of a page, and maybe even a quote. It is a world in which every bit, every published word, could be licensed. It is the opposite of the old slogan about nuclear power: every bit gets metered, because metering is so cheap. We begin to sell access to knowledge the way we sell access to a movie theater, or a candy store, or a baseball stadium. We create not digital libraries, but digital bookstores: a Barnes & Noble without the Starbucks.

Sometimes, I think the world would be better if intellectual property had no legal protection whatsoever.

. September 1, 2010 at 6:19 pm

“But whether authors are happy or not, it is critical to recognize that the free access that this world created was an essential part of how we passed our culture along. When you send your children to a library to write a research paper, you do not want them to have access to just 20 percent of each book they need to read. You want them to be able to read all of the book. And you do not want them to read just the books they think they would be willing to pay to access. You want them to browse: to explore, to wonder, to ask questions–the way, for example, people explore and wonder and ask questions using Google or Wikipedia. We had a culture where an enormous chunk of cultural life was proliferated and shared without most of us ever calling a copyright lawyer. Whether authors (or more likely, publishers) liked it or not, that was our fortunate past.

We are about to change that past, radically. And the premise for that change is an accidental feature of the architecture of copyright law: that it regulates copies. In the physical world, this architecture means that the law regulates a small set of the possible uses of a copyrighted work. In the digital world, this architecture means that the law regulates everything. For every single use of creative work in digital space makes a copy. Thus–the lawyer insists–every single use must in some sense be licensed. Even the scanning of a book for the purpose of generating an index–the action at the core of the Google book case–triggers the law of copyright, because that scanning, again, produces a copy.

And what this means, or so I fear, is that we are about to transform books into documentary films. The legal structure that we now contemplate for the accessing of books is even more complex than the legal structure that we have in place for the accessing of films. Or more simply still: we are about to make every access to our culture a legally regulated event, rich in its demand for lawyers and licenses, certain to burden even relatively popular work. Or again: we are about to make a catastrophic cultural mistake.”

. September 10, 2010 at 9:55 am

“If a curious individual wanted to learn more about Subject A or Subject B, an encyclopedia, a library, or a book store were the best places to acquire that knowledge. But today, if I decide I want to know more about, say, gossip columnist Walter Winchell, do I really need to track down a copy of Neal Gabler’s excellent Winchell: Gossip, Power, and the Culture of Celebrity? Or can I sate my hunger with the Wikipedia entry, a quick Google search of his name, by using Amazon’s “click to look inside!” feature, or searching Google Books to glean enough information? My guess is that in most cases, readers can. They don’t need to buy the entire menu when they can shop a la carte.

If I’m right about the status of books being in decline, book publishers have yet to feel the real pain. In 2009, sales dropped only 1.8 percent. But there are other measures, most of them anecdotal. Just a decade ago, I hoarded all of my books, refusing to sell them or give them away, because I didn’t want to gamble that I wouldn’t need them on short notice again. Finding a used, out-of-print, or rare book before AbeBooks, Alibris, and Amazon arrived was an expensive pain. You either had to prowl used bookstores, find it a library with the title, or pay a stiff book-finders’ fee. Now, thanks to resellers, I gladly purge my library now and again to make space. If I ever need a copy of Drudge Manifesto again, I’ll be able to get it on the Web for a penny, plus shipping. A back of the envelope calculation reveals to me that the replacement price of the average volume in my personal library has dropped 20 percent to 40 percent in the Web era. So even if the status of books isn’t falling, the value of them is.

By making books commodities, the modern market has stripped them of much of their romantic charm. I like the smell of a moldy book as much as the next bibliophile, but not as much as I once did. And while I’ve yet to purchase a Kindle or iPad, which make buying books in a store or online seem like hard work, I keep some titles on my netbook and iPod and can see myself making a fuller transition to e-books. And as I do, I’ll become even less romantic about books—just as I became progressively less romantic about music as my collection has shifted from vinyl to CDs to mp3s. Holding an LP cover or even a CD jacket used to anchor the listener to a something corporeal. But not anymore. The same is happening to books. The ancient ceremony of reading by turning its pages is being disrupted by the e-books clicks and swipes. In the process it distances us from the old magic conjured by books. Books are being replaced by reading.”

. May 24, 2011 at 11:35 pm

Amazon.com Inc. built its business on a digital platform, but it has always fundamentally been a paper pusher – until now.

The Seattle-based company announced Thursday that it is now selling more e-books than books printed on paper.

Amazon has reached this milestone on other occasions since it started selling digital books in November of 2007: on Christmas Day in 2009, e-book sales outpaced physical sales for the day (due largely to people who had received Kindles as gifts shopping for their new devices.) And e-book sales have outstripped hardcover in the past as well. But every day since April 1, Amazon has sold 105 Kindle books for every 100 physical books, paperback and hardcover – suggesting the growth of digital book sales is now sustained.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/technology/tech-news/kindle-sales-eclipse-print-at-amazon/article2028290/

. June 25, 2011 at 9:04 pm

A book can be pocketed and discarded, scrawled and torn into pages, lost and bought again. It can be dragged out from a suitcase, opened in front of you when having a snack, revived at the moment of waking, and skimmed through once again before falling asleep. It needs no notice by phone if you can’t attend the appointment fixed in the timetable. It won’t get mad if awakened from its slumber during your sleepless nights. Its message can be swallowed whole or chewed into tiny pieces. Its content lures you for intellectual adventures and it satisfies your spirit of adventure. You can get bored of it—but it won’t ever get bored of you.

—Kató Lomb, Polyglot: How I Learn Languages [Download PDF]

. September 25, 2011 at 12:59 pm

The transformation of the book industry

Disappearing ink

Readers have never had it so good. But publishers need to adapt better to the digital world

DURING the next few weeks publishers will release a crush of books, pile them onto delivery lorries and fight to get them on the display tables at the front of bookshops in the run-up to Christmas. It is an impressive display of competitive commercial activity. It is also increasingly pointless.

More quickly than almost anyone predicted, e-books are emerging as a serious alternative to the paper kind. Amazon, comfortably the biggest e-book retailer, has lowered the price of its Kindle e-readers to the point where people do not fear to take them to the beach. In America, the most advanced market, about one-fifth of the largest publishers’ sales are of e-books. Newly released blockbusters may sell as many digital copies as paper ones. The proportion is growing quickly, not least because many bookshops are closing.

. September 25, 2011 at 1:06 pm

The books business

Great digital expectations

Digitisation may have come late to book publishing, but it is transforming the business in short order

TO SEE how profoundly the book business is changing, watch the shelves. Next month IKEA will introduce a new, deeper version of its ubiquitous “BILLY” bookcase. The flat-pack furniture giant is already promoting glass doors for its bookshelves. The firm reckons customers will increasingly use them for ornaments, tchotchkes and the odd coffee-table tome—anything, that is, except books that are actually read.

In the first five months of this year sales of consumer e-books in America overtook those from adult hardback books. Just a year earlier hardbacks had been worth more than three times as much as e-books, according to the Association of American Publishers. Amazon now sells more copies of e-books than paper books. The drift to digits will speed up as bookshops close. Borders, once a retail behemoth, is liquidating all of its American stores.

. November 3, 2011 at 5:54 pm

SIR – One aspect of digital publishing that you did not discuss is electronic obsolescence. Paper books can be read by future generations with no special tools. Digital e-book files require sophisticated hardware and knowledge of the file format, which are not necessarily always going to be available. The current emphasis on digital dissemination is a serious risk to future historians. Look at the example of the BBC’s Domesday project, which stored information using technology that soon became outdated.

John Douglas
Orléans, France

. November 22, 2011 at 10:33 pm
X February 9, 2012 at 4:43 pm

Changing books to mutable, licensed, non re-sellable electronic content fundamentally changes how we interact with them and what is available to us in the future. One of the many values of printed media is the ability to archive it, unchanged. Maybe it’s not such a big deal if your generic fiction book changes over time. But then again, some of the most treasured books are first editions or editions with specific errors. It’s definitely a much bigger deal if newspaper, magazine, and journal articles disappear when someone disagrees with the content, or if the content gets changed.

. June 2, 2012 at 6:35 pm

The great democratizing factor of the ebook formats – that anyone can easily distribute – can also mean that readers can never be quite sure that they are viewing the texts as the author intended

http://yro.slashdot.org/story/12/06/01/186216/war-and-nookd-ebook-regex-gone-haywire

. October 1, 2012 at 8:05 pm

Kindle Paperwhite review

Amazon has pioneered e-readers in ways that few other companies have or could. The Kindle Paperwhite is the successor to a long line of innovative and daring products that seek to move book reading into the new century — and it’s a terrific product. I was truly delighted while using the device, and for a moment at least, actually envisioned a future where something like the Paperwhite was the only way that I read books. That was a weird moment.

The Paperwhite is an excellent reader, probably the best I’ve used. Between the new display, the improved software and performance, great battery life, and Amazon’s massive book selection, there’s not much here to complain about. Some may nitpick the lack of a charger or the fact that you need to pay to opt out of advertising on the device — and those are negatives to be sure — but the overall picture is very clear. Amazon wants to make great reading devices for the masses, and with the Paperwhite, they just took the game to a whole new level.

. October 30, 2012 at 11:10 pm

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