the debate over eBooks

I read something a few weeks ago (the problem with being slow to process things from blogs that post regularly), about digital ebook readers and the future of digital books.

I guess my thoughts are best summed up in a couple of points, basically that electronic texts will succeed as they: develop unique and presentation methods (hardware and software), and as the commerce/distribution models become more transparent.

1. Words on screens don't work like words on paper. They just don't, and we need to develop new ways of reading/writing that engage the medium better. We got prose out of the transition to bound-books, novels out of printing press (loosely;) the success of ebooks, I think will require some sort of new way of writing/reading/interacting with text, and no ebook implementation has gone there.

2. The potential for profit of digital goods is immense: distribution/production costs are much lower than their material counterparts, because printing, delivery, etc. aren't factors for digital things. There is, however, value and work that goes into publishing texts, and we need some way of supporting creators. I'm not sure that the existing publishing/content industry's models make a good example to follow, and "micropayments" (the stock alternate response) don't seem to really work. I tend to think that fellowships funded by a subscription model/tax on connectivity is more the way to go. But that's me.

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