Okay, an interesting couple of things happened this week. As many of you know, I LOVE, absolutely LOVE eBooks. If I could, every book I purchased would be an eBook. Now don't get me wrong -- I'm not talking about sitting in front of a desktop computer with a 24-inch display, turning my head from side to side as I scan the page. No, eBooks and desktops don't mix. And I think most people who don't like eBooks, haven't really given them a fair shake. I read eBooks on PDAs, tablet PCs, and smart phones. And they rock. Here's why:
- Go anywhere. Whether standing in line at the bank or on the side of a mountain, you're reading material is easily accessible and manageable.
- No more lost places because you lost your book mark -- turn it on and it returns you to where you last left off.
- Built-in backlight won't bug your bed mate and trumps traditional booklights.
- Going on vacation and don't know what reading material to take? Take it all in on e light device.
- When that new book comes out that you're dying to get your hands on, log on, type in your credit card number, download, and in minutes you're in book lover paradise.
- Reduce the number of bookshelves in your home without reducing the number of books in your collection.
- Books can remain in print...no need to scour used bookstones and online sellers to locate that 6-month old horror novel you're dying to read today.
- Change the font size (and type, if you want), to make it readable without using your reading glasses.
Okay, that's just some of the reasons I think eBooks rock, and they are are future. When you think about it from an economic viewpoint, publishers and writers can potentially make a lot more money off the sale of electrodes rather than ecologically irresponsible paperbound books, that still rely on a wasteful (and shameful) policy of stripping unsold paperbacks, destroying the books, and returning the covers for credit.
But eBooks, despite many valiant attempts, have always failed. But that may be about to change. Enter the Kindle Reader from Amazon...their new eBook reader, and their vast initial selection of books, just may be the salvo that launches us into the future. In addition to a rather sexy looking device with amazingly well thought-out feature set, they've managed to convince publishers that eBooks shouldn't cost as much (or more!) than their hardback counterparts. By pricing most hardcover eBooks at $10 or less, they've taken away one of the most commonly heard complaints: eBooks cost too much.
That said, I'm disappointed that books created for their Kindle Reader appear to be unavailable for reading on other devices such as laptops, PDAs, smart phones, etc. That's a big mistake, but they've done so much right here, I think the future of eBooks suddenly looks bright again. I for one applaud them!
The second thing that happened this week, though related, isn't as pleasant. I've been commenting to folks that I've noticed a drop in the number of books being carried in grocery stores of late. I'm one of those people who CAN'T walk out of a grocery store without having first scanned the book rack. On more than one occassion, I've found overlooked gems, and it's a great touch-stone for what's trendy/hot at the moment. Anyway, one of my local grocery stores moved their book rack a couple of months back...to the absolute worst spot in the store...in front, where you see them AFTER you've completed your purchase and are walking out. I thought, man, now that's gotta be a death knell....so yesterday, when I was in that store, paying for my purchase, I looked over at the books...except the books weren't there. I asked the clerk where they had been moved (actually, I asked three times, for some reason he had no idea what I was talking about at first), and he said, "Oh, they came and pulled them out. They weren't selling." Sigh. I told you it wasn't good. That said, I used to fear the demise of the bookstore as more and more of us go online to places like Amazon. But Amazon has gotten so damn good, that I now find myself visiting their site rather than going to the store. It's so organized, user friendly, and discoverable, and the selection so far outstrips the selection of traditional bookstores, well, you see where I'm headed. They just might not be missed. Heresy? Maybe. Reality? Definitely.