Monday, April 30, 2007

"Why E-Books Will Succeed"

I've spent most of the day attending a class and meeting with a job counselor, so I just now spotted this topic over at Web Worker Daily. It emphasizes the interesting point that e-books are likely to survive by finding a niche of their own when it comes to certain types of publications rather than by replacing the books we read for pleasure. Anne Zelenka sees e-books as being better suited for text books and work related reading than their paper and board counterparts and, since e-books are electronically searchable, I tend to agree with her.
Why will e-book readers succeed? Not because e-books are good replacements for paper books — but because they’re good complements to paper books and documents, especially for work-related reading rather than pure pleasure.

Time and again we see that technology doesn’t have to mean an end to the old ways of doing things. Tech tools allow us to do things in different ways or to do things we couldn’t possibly do before, adding new value to our lives, not just reproducing value we could already access.
There are other reasons e-books and e-book readers may have value even in a world where paper books don’t become obsolete. Students could benefit from electronic textbooks, carrying the equivalent of a backpack full of books in a small tablet. Knowledge workers might prefer to read technical articles or lengthy professional documents on an easy to read, lightweight reader rather than printing them out and carrying them. Imagine taking hundred-page spec documents onto a plane with you just by carrying a reader loaded with them, and being able to search them electronically instead of using a table of contents or index. Service people could carry readers loaded with installation and repair manuals.

You can’t take an e-book reader into the bath tub with you, but so what? There’s room in the world for electronic and paper books.
I seriously doubt that e-books will ever result in much of a change in the way that we read for pleasure. Holding a book, turning the pages, placing the bookmark and all of the assorted tactile pleasures that come from doing those things will never be replaced by squinting at some rigid electronic books reader. Just won't happen. But I would love being able to quickly search some of the business and non-fiction books that I read rather than having to mark them up and flip through hundreds of pages looking for exactly the definition or reference that I vaguely remember seeing somewhere along the way.


  1. I think that's the first good argument for ebooks that I've heard.

  2. Same fact, I may take a first hand look at one of the Sony players tomorrow just to get a better feel for the process. I did notice that most of their e-books are reasonably priced and I'm SUCH a sucker for new electronic gizmos that this could be bad... :-)

  3. I agree with Sylvia. Personally, I don't much like reading on a screen and scrolling through stuff, even at work. I'd still prefer to print it all out and curl up in the comfy chair in my office with it and sort it all out that way. But I'm probably in the minority, and it would be nice to have some of these books in searchable form. It'd also end the college textbook buy-back scam. Remember that? "Oh, sorry, your math book has gone into a new edition. Yeah, they've decided to print it all in Garamond instead of Times New Roman, so I'm afraid that book you spent $70 on three months ago and never want to see again is now obsolete. Why don't you use the pages for toilet paper?"

  4. I think e-books are a great idea for student text books especially if it lowers the cost. I think paper books and e-books can co-exist peacefully.

  5. Diva, I can't stand reading books on a computer monitor either but, from what I hear, the special readers are bright and clear and their page displays much more closely resemble the real thing than what one sees on a monitor. I'm curious enough now to want to hold one in my own hands...but at $350 I'm not convinced that they are yet worth the money, other than for college students...if texts are made available in the right format, of course.

  6. Stefanie, I agree. The article convinced me that this new technology does not have to succeed at the expense of real books...they can co-exist and each can thrive separately.

  7. I own the Sony ebook reader. I personally love it. You can change the font size and you can read widthwise if you like. I have my college textbooks on there that my University provides to us only in ebook format. It's great to carry around this item over a laptop. The screen is a darker scale and so it's not like reading black text on white so it's very easy on the eyes.

    I still buy books. I still love to read books. But then again I own an Ipod and I still buy CD's. There's room for both. The technology on the Sony e-book reader is phenominal. You just have to see it to know.

    p.s. you don't scroll on this device. you hit a button that changes the page in less than 3 seconds.

  8. Kristy, I was able to borrow one of the readers and will be able to keep it for a week or so to see how I like it. So far, it's been fun and I find that it's a lot easier to read and manipulate than I thought it would be.

    I can already see that the Sony reader has a place in the book world...what a great study aid for students and a treasure chest for travelers. I'm just about sold on it already.