E-Readers and Print Media

In this article at Technology Review, the author comments on the inevitable transformation of the print world. With technological wonders like Amazon’s Kindle, B&N’s Nook and Sony’s Daily Edition, it appears as though the days of paperboys and printing presses are on their way out the door. Now, I have yet to try read a book or a daily on any of these e-readers, but I have navigated a bit through the Kindle. I must say, it’s quite fantastic. And from what I hear, that’s pretty much the consensus.

I ask you this: is this a good thing? Or is it not? And how so?

My position on the matter is fairly simple: it’s mostly wonderful. Certainly I would express varying levels of sadness and longing for the once prominent musty old bookshops, independent booksellers, and other market alternative of their ilk. There is value in these sorts of enterprises. And I would even argue that they would continue to stay in business for, at the very least, some years to come. But the way in which the world of print media is established and implemented today, and the ever increasing push, nay, demand for technological advancement, it seems like its on the verge of becoming dead in the water.

And I don’t think that’s a bad thing.

I marvel at the innovation and am amazed by the technological prowess. I value the research, the development, the design, the implementation, the production. And I consider the minds, as individuals and as a whole, that brought this all together to be of the utmost importance. Because, at the end of the day, these are the sorts of people that are the most impacting. In pursuance of their dreams, their goals, productivity and self interest, they are, in turn, affecting the greater populace. We, as a people, are better for it. I find that wonderful. So we can thank folks like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and others for this achievement.

I also think there is something to say about the progression of an industry like this. What once was, regardless of your emotional or mental ties, is not always better. And it will change its course, develop and morph over time. It has to.

But ultimately, in the grand scheme of things, I don’t believe that books or magazines or newspapers will simply go away. There is still a strong, concerted effort to keep these print industries going. People love books. And they love them as leathery pages between their fingers. Perhaps, though, this love may change. Perhaps, some time from now, our love will fashion itself within the confines of a slick, techno-super touch screen.

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7 thoughts on “E-Readers and Print Media

  1. Jessica says:

    I too am excited about readers, however, I am in no rush to jump on the reader band wagon. At this moment in time there are huge publisher/digital issues. They have not hashed out all of the copyright problems, or decided on a mainstreamed format (like the mp3 for music). Every reader uses it’s own coding and some publishers have refused to distribute to those readers until pricing is determined by the publisher not the reader distributor, like: Amazon vs Macmillan http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/01/technology/companies/01amazonweb.html.

    I truly have a soft spot for the bound book. I will continue to buy physical books, however, I look forward to owning an ipad so that I can read blogs, newspapers and magazines on that beautiful piece of equipment.

  2. I hear ya. There’s certainly a lot to work out. You know me. I value innovation. But I do certainly value the print world.

  3. Chris says:

    I got a nook for Christmas, and I have to say that I was so impressed by the technology that I went out and bought shares in B&N. There is not doubt about it, these are the future. I am not sure what format and form factor they will take (iPad vs. nook), but reading books on a portable electronic device is here to stay.

    I do not consider paper books to be dead, i.e. “Buggy whips,” but this is the same format conversion that music LP’s made back in the 80’s. I am most excited about the new possibilities that these devices open up like micro-publishing and dis-intermediation of the publishing houses. Once these devices are availble for <$100, expect a huge surge in sales.

  4. Chris, I still need to get my hands on a Nook. Have you compared the Kindle with the Nook? How do they compare? Definitely agree that they’re here to stay. To what extent, that’s obviously still up in the air, as you point out.

    Yes, indeed! My fiance and I will continue to buy print copies. 🙂 We’re thinking we may have to design some sort of book shelving for the ceiling- we have so many!

    It will definitely be an interesting few years.

    • Chris says:

      The difference is pretty simple, open (nook) vs. closed (Kindle). I gave my 75 year old mother a Kindle becasue all she is ever likely to do is; Browse Amazon, purchase and read. I on the other hand, am constantly looking around for free eb0oks that I can install onto my nook myself. Although I have purchased a lot of books from B&N, I have also found lots of free ones. The reason I can do that is becasue B&N’s nook, like many other readers are supporting the EPub format, while Kindle uses a proprietary format and locks you into their ecosystem.

      From a readability perspective, they are pretty well equal. The Kindle has better battery life, but the nook has some better ergonomic features. Both are great devices for reading ebooks.

  5. Thanks for the info Chris! You can’t beat free books!

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