How the E‑Book Will Change the Way We Read and Write

Accord­ing to Steven John­son’s piece in The Wall Street Jour­nal, the “break­through suc­cess of Ama­zon’s Kin­dle e‑book read­er, and the mat­u­ra­tion of the Google Book Search ser­vice”  could “make 2009 the most sig­nif­i­cant year in the evo­lu­tion of the book since Guten­berg ham­mered out his orig­i­nal Bible.” John­son goes on to explain why e‑book read­ers (like the Kin­dle) will stim­u­late book sales (nev­er a bad thing for a bat­tered indus­try), and why it will also trans­form the way we find, read, talk and write about books. Def­i­nite­ly worth a quick read. And if you have more thoughts on what the dig­i­tal book uni­verse will look like, add them to the com­ments below.

by | Permalink | Comments (10) |

Sup­port Open Cul­ture

We’re hop­ing to rely on our loy­al read­ers rather than errat­ic ads. To sup­port Open Cul­ture’s edu­ca­tion­al mis­sion, please con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion. We accept Pay­Pal, Ven­mo (@openculture), Patre­on and Cryp­to! Please find all options here. We thank you!

Comments (10)
You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.
  • Carol A says:

    Get­ting the for­mats right is going to be a painful peri­od, but some research into the back­ground of writ­ing reveals a lot of teething prob­lems when we first start­ed to scrib­ble — which direc­tion? (Left to right, right to left) the for­mat of books/scrolls. What we real­ly need now is a cheap­er bookread­er! I can buy a lot of books for the price of one gad­get, and would prob­a­bly have to send away for one over­seas. But this will hap­pen, look at the price of MP3 play­ers now com­pared to a few years ago.

  • Debi says:

    I have an Ebook from Sony, and I read more than ever.

  • Bob Price says:

    In the future read­ing books will become an enti­tle­ment for the peo­ple able to afford the hard­ware. Libraries will be gone due to bud­get cuts. Paper will be gone due to our green con­cerns. Our wire­less home net­works will send infor­ma­tion to flex­i­ble dis­plays we can fold or roll-up for easy car­ry to our des­ti­na­tions. The poor will have cell phones that will serve as text dis­plays.

    I think I need to switch to decaf.

  • Dan Colman says:

    A quick thought on the price of e‑book read­ers. The Kin­dle is admit­ted­ly pricey right now. But you should keep in mind that new Kin­dle books are often 1/3 cheap­er than paper copies avail­able on Ama­zon. And some­times they’re much cheap­er. (You can buy pub­lic domain clas­sics for $1-$2.) If you were sav­ing $5 per book on aver­age, then you would cov­er the cost of the $359 Kin­dle over 80 books. Once prices come down, as they inevitably will, you’ll even­tu­al­ly get ebook read­ers for clos­er to $100 and then you’ll cov­er the cost over 20 books. From there you’re sav­ing mon­ey. That does­n’t seem too shab­by.

  • Gaurav says:

    I was won­der­ing what will be the impact on text­books. There are not that many text­books avail­able in Kin­dle right now. And with con­stant back-ref­er­enc­ing and mark­ing required, is it even suit­able for text­books?

  • bob schulties says:

    Print pub­lish­ers are killing them­selves because of greed.

    Oth­er than basic improve­ments that need to be made to Kin­dle hardware/software (it’s too hard to use Kin­dle book as ref­er­ence — too hard to flip back and forth on pages), pub­lish­ers need to wake up with pric­ing.

    Dan it’s great that you think $10/book is a good deal, but it will ulti­mate­ly fail. $10 for some­thing that has essen­tial­ly no cost once the first book is done is a total ripoff. There are no deliv­ery costs and no print­ing costs. That means no trucks, fuel, ware­hous­es full of paper, etc. Noth­ing.

    Want to save pub­lish­ing? $3/book the same way Apple did with music (well, they did it at 99 cents). And the read­er has to come down in price pron­to.

    Once peo­ple real­ize the ripoff of $10 books, they’ll fig­ure out how to boot­leg them. Or worse… just nev­er read them.

    The music indus­try total­ly screwed them­selves with $18 CDs and once peo­ple had enough and the tech­nol­o­gy was there, peo­ple boot­legged. And while Apple did­n’t total­ly save the indus­try the music indus­try owes Apple quite a bit of thanks (even if the indus­try is now screw­ing Apple by giv­ing Ama­zon a bet­ter deal than Apple).*

    And, no, this is no guar­an­tee that peo­ple will read the books, but I bet they buy more of ’em.

    *It’s amaz­ing how stu­pid the music indus­try is. The movie and TV will sure­ly fol­low music indus­try.

  • Seth Harwood says:

    But right now the Kin­dle is still too expen­sive. It’s also get­ting killed in the sales world by iPhone and iTouch to the tune of 850,000 Kin­dle 1 & 2 sold and 38 Mil­lion iPhone/iTouch. Giv­en that the Kin­dle books cost around $10 and book apps on the iTunes App store cost about $5, which one of these seems more sus­tain­able?

  • Seth Harwood says:

    In terms of books, I’m not sure what the future will bring. Kin­dle still has a lot of draw­backs that make it hard­er to adopt than the iPod ever was–you can’t put the books you have already onto it, for instance. Ama­zon would be wise to give away some free eBooks, at least the books you’ve already bought through them, but I’m not hold­ing my breath.

    Truth is, the future of books is going to be Kin­dle, iPhones, books, Trade Paper, Hard­cov­er, all of it. As writ­ers we need to work on get­ting our work onto as many plat­forms as pos­si­ble. Ulti­mate­ly, it’ll be the read­ers who decide how they want to read; I just want to be sure my book will be an option to them on the plat­form they choose!

  • Bob Price says:

    In Dan’s response com­par­ing the demise of books to news­pa­pers, both are ulti­mate­ly direct­ed by pub­lish­ers. We know the news­pa­per pub­lish­ers are dri­ven by greed since ad space deter­mines the news we even­tu­al­ly see. Too many book pub­lish­ers seem to fol­low greed also. If the busi­ness mod­el for pub­lish­ers does­n’t evolve with the tech­nol­o­gy for read­ing books, we’ll watch them go to La Brea also.

  • Faith Cobb says:

    No, decaf need­ed. It is now 2018 and for the most part, you were right with the excep­tion of libraries. While they very well may see clos­ings, they have remained rel­e­vant by stay­ing with the times and adapt­ing to the changes made by tech­nol­o­gy in this age. Still, I do also believe that they may some­day see clo­sure or become more like muse­ums of arti­facts if they can­not stay ahead of and abreast of tech­no­log­i­cal growth and changes.

Leave a Reply

Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.