Odyssey Online

E-Books Everywhere You Look

February 20, 2009 · No Comments

…over the last week or two there have been quite a number of articles (that is, quite a number in the streams of news through which I wade) on e-books. Notably the viability and curious lack of traction that e-books have had up until this point and time.  E-books are curious in that they evoke such strong reactions in some people. Even twenty-somethings I’ve met who invest a huge amount of time in Facebook, e-mail, and such might very well react with a wince when faced with the prospect of e-books–I’m not going to suggest that we don’t have our share of nonreading twenty-somethings, but a number I’ve met who’ll invest time in reading just don’t want anything to do with e-books. Could this change? Rob Horning in his blog makes the case that Kindle may not kindle any excitement, largely because ripping e-books doesn’t make sense in the way ripping music does. His point is that hard copy books are just to easy to lend…Bobbie Johnson at the Guardian makes the case that the Kindle’s slow development (and market share) have to do with the fact that noone is hacking it, and on Britannica Blog Nicholas Car worries that Kindles will make writing history “provisional” not “permanent.”

Google books has also been in the news. In a long New York Times Piece Robert Darnton thinks about the role of libraries and the public good in the age of Google Books (and for Mr. Darnton it’s pretty clearly a history dominated by Google books). He looks back to the enlightenment to suggest ways in which libraries can continue to have a role, be a public good (good Sunday morning reading!) Paul Courant responds to the article by cautioning that Google’s domination may be a monopolistic one, and, in a like vein, on “Books Do Furnish A Room” the case is made that Google now holds all the cards in the wake of their recent copyright settlement. Google has the arbitor of all digital books is, to say the least, an unappleaing idea…

Categories: Books · Essay on Bibliography · Google