First, a few of updates. I just finished a draft of a new preface for The Late Age of Print, which will be appearing in the (drum roll please!) NEW PAPERBACK EDITION due out in January, 2011. The piece develops and extends some of the ideas from one of my favorite blog entries, “Books: An ‘Outdated Technology?’” which I posted to this site last September. More good news about the paperback edition: Columbia University Press has decided to price it at just $18.50. That’s a bargain as far as I’m concerned — at least, by academic book standards.
Now onto the business at hand: the Kindle smackdown. A colleague of mine is considering buying an Amazon Kindle e-reader and posted a query to her Facebook site inviting friends to weigh in. One of her respondents linked to a series of YouTube videos called “The Book vs. The Kindle,” which was produced by the good folks at San Francisco’s Green Apple Books — one of my favorite bookstores in the world. From the moment I watched one of the videos (which happened to be installment five), I knew I’d have to share it here with you:
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Cute theme, eh? Paper books, it seems, are good for picking up your fellow literati in bookstores. E-books? Not so much. Who would have thought print and paper were so hot?
The video actually reminded me quite a bit of an article appearing in the March 31, 2010 edition of The New York Times, which had this to say about the conundrums of owing an e-reader: “Among other changes heralded by the e-book era, digital editions are bumping book covers off the subway, the coffee table and the beach. That is a loss for publishers and authors, who enjoy some free advertising for their books in printed form.”
It’s intriguing, indeed, to hear just how “all-in” some publishers have become for e-books, now that there are some seemingly viable platforms floating around out there. I just wonder if they’ve paused long enough to consider how the technology they’re so investing in may be thwarting one of the most prosaic ways in which the book industry goes about hocking its wares.
Update: one possible exception to the “no more covers” rule for e-readers may be something like the dual-display Toshiba Libretto W100, although with this particular device neither of the screens faces outward. Maybe a triple- or quad-screen e-reader will one day do the trick.