Just the other day, Alan pointed out that Amazon sales for their Kindle e-books exceeded hardcover sales for three months running, and stated
It’s all down hill from here. Sooner than you think, dead tree books will be a niche market for collectors and art books. Electronic book readers are already free for all general purpose computing platforms and dedicated readers are nosediving in price.I've noticed a strong upsurge in e-book sales through the Amazon doohicky in my sidebar in the last several months, so this doesn't actually come as a total surprise.
All this eBookery is fine and dandy, but there's still a few hurdles I'd like to see overcome, at the risk of sounding like some cranky Luddite...
The battery thing is, of course, nearly a non-issue these days, with most readers giving you one to two weeks of reading on a tankful. But only nearly a non issue. How long do the unit's batteries last? Are they sealed internally? Are they proprietary? I guess it's assumed that, by the time the lithium-ion cells have crapped out, I will have already been lured by the shiny, new eReader Plus 360 X and transferred all my material over.
(This material will, hopefully, be transferable to my new eReader Plus 360 X, unlike all those cool games I have in boxes in the attic on 5.25" floppy disks or Atari 5200 cartridges.)
Of course, thanks to the dense nature of electronic storage media, folks point out that you can take your whole library with you; something certainly not possible right now for me, since the last time I took my whole library with me, it used up the larger half of a U-Haul truck. Of course another thing I can't do with my entire library in its current format is leave it on the bus by accident.
And speaking of storage media, we seem to be running into a bit of a crisis here in our shiny new digiworld: The copy of Hell's Angels I was reading the other day is a hardcover first printing from 1966. Assuming that there was a "Book On Tape" version done the same year, and I could find an 8-track player on which to listen to it, how much would the sound quality have degraded? Quite a lot, I'd guess. And of course, that's just sound quality; a missing magnetic particle or two on audio tape isn't going to cause your stereo to crash to a blue screen of death and render the whole album useless.
As it turns out, we're still looking for an electronic form of archival data storage that can come close to rivaling decent, acid-free paper. If you're the kind of person who reads a paperback once and then eventually trades it in or gives it away, that's maybe not such a big deal. If you're me, it is.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go see if the battery in my G3 iBook will still hold a charge...