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Old 04-09-2013, 10:05 AM   #1
BeccaPrice
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an ex-Amazonian looks at Amazon

One on One: Jason Merkoski and the View of E-Books From the Inside
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Old 04-09-2013, 01:11 PM   #2
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Thumbs up Thanks for posting that, Becca

I especially liked this bit; it was so well-phrased:

Quote:
Q.Physical books were convenient, cheap, easy to use, attractive, practically indestructible. What will the great advantages of e-books be?

A.In 20 years, the space of one generation, print books will be as rare as vinyl LPs. You’ll still be able to find them in artsy hipster stores, but that’s about it. So the great advantage of e-books is also their curse; e-books will be the only game in town if you want to read a book. It’s sobering, and a bit sad. That said, e-books can do what print books can’t. They’ll allow you to fit an entire library into the space of one book. They’ll allow you to search for anything in an instant, save your thoughts forever, share them with the world, and connect with other readers right there, inside the book. The book of the future will live and breathe.
Did you notice how the interviewer phrased physical books as past tense already? As if it is already a done deal.

I don't think they will REALLY start to disappear until eBooks are cheaper than paperbacks. Even then, it is nice to have "the classics" in hardcover.

As he said later, it is also nice to easily share the book with no technological knowledge, and to have a hand-written dedication inside the cover. It gives me a warm feeling inside to write and read dedications.
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Old 04-09-2013, 01:20 PM   #3
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I think he overestimates the future ubiquitousness of ebooks. They will destroy the mass market paperback market, and probably greatly reduce the trade paperback market. Hard covers aren't going anywhere, though, and ebooks as they exist today simply aren't suitable for some types of books.

And regardless of technological superiority, the business model needs some serious attitude adjustment before they'll become the "only game in town."
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Old 04-09-2013, 02:00 PM   #4
ShellShock
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"save your thoughts for ever"...as long as your thoughts are not in a cloud server which has the plug pulled on it. Local storage may get corrupted, stolen, be in a format that can no longer be read. "for ever" is a very long time, especially when we have seen so many data storage mediums come and go, and so many on-line suppliers/libraries go out of business.

"share them with the world". There are already so many ways of sharing our puerile thoughts with the world, I don't think we need ebooks for this.

"the book of the future will live and breathe". Meaningless, hyperbolic clap-trap,
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Old 04-09-2013, 05:05 PM   #5
fjtorres
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A nice exchange.
He sounds like a lot of tech company refugees, though; SiliValley startups are harried places to live in and a lot of people realize that while they are great places to work at, for a while, you need to move on if you want to have a life. Let the next wave of young turks get their shot at burnout.
It'll be interesting to see how candid the lawyers let him be.
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Old 04-10-2013, 06:01 AM   #6
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Ebooks as they exist today are somewhat of a Faustian bargain to me. On the one hand, I love my Kindle. On the other hand, I hardly ever buy an eBook because of its limitations. Can't loan it out to my friends. Can't resell it when I'm done with it. Can't donate it to my library. Costs as much or more than a printed copy. And while I take eBooks out of the library frequently, I wish they didn't buy them to begin with; the idea that they are licensing these things at great cost for a short term is depressing to me.

The potential is there for eBooks to be great. But right now, the major publishers are using the technology to limit us rather than encourage us to use it.
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Old 04-10-2013, 06:38 AM   #7
piperclassique
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one word: Gutenberg
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Old 04-10-2013, 07:48 AM   #8
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This reminds me of all the arguments against cassette players and cassettes in lieu of vinyl records. Technology will win out in the end. It always does. Is ebooks in their present form the technological next step can we classify them in the laser disc category. Whatever, the time for printed books (other than the occasional hardcover books in specialty shops) is going to come to an end. It is just a matter of time I'm afraid.
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Old 04-10-2013, 11:21 AM   #9
patrickt
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I think ebooks will force significant changes on the corrupt and incestuous world of publishing. The business of you can buy the book in the U.S. but not Australia or Spain will not stand.
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Old 04-10-2013, 11:41 AM   #10
teh603
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sregener View Post
Ebooks as they exist today are somewhat of a Faustian bargain to me. [...] Costs as much or more than a printed copy.
That's only because publishers right now see ebooks as a way to prop up their failing print businesses. There's no valid reason for an ebook to be as expensive as a print book.
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Old 04-10-2013, 12:34 PM   #11
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I doubt it will be quite as dire as the vinyl LP situation. We can print-on-demand if we insist on paper books. Vinyl-on-demand? Not so much.

I can see the vinyl equivalency on, say, original 1st edition printings. There will be none at some point in the future.

It does raise a minor topic I know we've touched on before. What is the future equivalent of a signed book? Will future e-books have a author's signature field attached to the cover art? Even that would not do the trick if we're only licensing e-books and don't really own them. I'm thinking the author's signature and any notation needs to be in a separate (side car?) file.
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Old 04-10-2013, 01:16 PM   #12
BeccaPrice
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Maybe instead of signed books, we'll see a resurgence of autograph books, where people collect signatures in one little notebook.
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Old 04-10-2013, 01:59 PM   #13
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I would really be interested to see a poll about this as it relates to age groups. For example, what percentage of 15 to 25 years olds would agree with Jason versus the 45 to 55 years old age group?
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Old 04-10-2013, 03:11 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JeremyZ View Post
I especially liked this bit; it was so well-phrased:



Did you notice how the interviewer phrased physical books as past tense already? As if it is already a done deal.

I don't think they will REALLY start to disappear until eBooks are cheaper than paperbacks. Even then, it is nice to have "the classics" in hardcover.

As he said later, it is also nice to easily share the book with no technological knowledge, and to have a hand-written dedication inside the cover. It gives me a warm feeling inside to write and read dedications.
"Old hat."

Sure books will collect dust for a while like an old hat and even in 20 years the residues of old books will be found especially among the old folk or just among people who can't or won't spend money for books and so acquire them handed down, used or vastly discounted.
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Old 04-10-2013, 03:20 PM   #15
Elfwreck
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Print books aren't going away until ereader device makers fix the problems with the technology: they suck for anything that's not linear novels.

I *adore* linear novels, read them by the dozen, but there is not an ereader on the market that's good for academic research or business purposes; they're lousy for teaching kids to read; the browsing-through-collection options range from mediocre to pathetic; annotations and bookmarking are both crude and horribly limited... the limitations of ebooks are extensive.

They are indeed wonderful for read-once novels. They will decimate the MMPB market. However, their inroads to other markets--schools for all ages, businesses, libraries, personal sharing collections--is slow and full of setbacks, mostly tangled around DRM but some involving proprietary hardware or software issues.

We don't need YouTube support on ereaders; we need functional TOCs and bookmarks.
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