The Book vs. the e-Book

Perhaps I’m afraid of change, or perhaps I’m old school, but I like the physical nature of selecting a book from the bookshelf, flipping it over to read the blurb, lifting it’s cover and turning the first page. When e-books came out I didn’t think they’d catch on. I was wrong; they caught on, but they didn’t take over. The early adapters snapped them up, but people like me still had their reservations.

In the sixth reading, John Naughton highlights some of his own concerns about the shift from print to electronic books. He raises an interesting point, in that ‘technology enables content owners to assert a level of control over the reader that would be deemed unconscionable – and unacceptable – in the world of print (Naughton, J. 2009).

This is something I hadn’t even thought about, but it’s very true. As an example, he refers to the Amazon Kindle’s terms and conditions, which state that, ‘you cannot sell, rent, lease, distribute, broadcast, sublicense or otherwise assign any rights to the digital content or any portion of it to any third party’. In other words, you are forbidden to lend any of your friends a book, no matter how life changing it is.

In the ‘Talk of the Nation’ transcript, Lynn Neary, the NPR correspondent covering books and publishing, admits that since preaching that printed books will always be around, she is no longer so sure. She said, “We are now seeing that with the advent of the iPad and other kind of tablet devices, you can have what they call now enhanced e-books. And that is, you can have e-books that can embed pictures, can embed video” (National Public Radio, 2010).

I’m not about to rush out and buy an iPad, but I understand why people are switching from books to the iPad. It’s interactive, it’s convenient and with applications like ‘Social Books’, it attempts to make reading communal and essentially cool. But, that’s Mac for you.

The reading, ‘Publishers take Note: The iPad is altering the very concept of ‘book’, is interesting in highlighting the shift that must take place in print publishing for the practice to survive. In short, the article warns that print publishers need to ‘tool up’ by adding ‘technological competencies to their publishing skills’. The writer asks, “If they don’t do it, then someone else will. There will always be ‘books’. The question now is: will there always be publishers?” (Naughton, J. 2010)

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