I was thinking about E-Book readers today and how I don’t really want one. I hate carrying books, but I also love using them. I like holding them in my hands and ruffling the paper. I love the feel of the page on my thumbs. When it comes to putting them in my bag to take along though, I hate it. It is a giant lump asking to get bent out of shape. So what is the answer? Obviously electronic books are the future. We have done it with mail, music and photos, why not our knowledge?
Yes we already have much of our books digitized. The problem is that I have a bookshelf full of my favorite books already. Many of them are books that I doubt will see digitization any time soon. I don’t want to buy those books again! The advantage to print journalism is that at this time for something to be published, it has to be true, and (usually) has to be good. There is a wealth of information on the web, and some areas I feel that web-based content is better than it’s print counterpart (technology). But lets be honest, when someone references the Internet you still think “yeah… the Internet said that?”
So what would be the ideal? This is how I see it. We are already close. I think that a little light reading on the iPhone is just fine. The key is to read in bright light so that your eyes are already adjusted. If not, you need to lower the brightness. I read “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” primarily on the iPhone when I read it recently. We need to be able to have all of our previously purchased books available electronically. I know that this is a long shot seeing as how the publishing companies would like more money. If I could carry all of these with me as well as have them at home, that would be ideal. They would also need to be search-able for quick reference. If every book bought came with a digital copy via download from the publisher’s website, I believe people would buy more books.
The other issue is portability. I don’t want to carry another device. We invented smartphones to prevent this. If we could have a unified standard for e-books, various cell phone makers could integrate this into their devices. Once again, the factor preventing this is money. Proprietary formats help companies keep their customers. Amazon currently offers all of their kindle e-books on the iPhone, but if I ever want to switch to another kind of phone, I either have to get a Kindle or lose access to my e-books.
There are many problems that stand in our way of a usable e-book situation. One thing is for sure, we will figure out a way. It may be quite a while from now, but I am confident we will do it.