An interesting look at the idea behind the Kindle ebook reader.
I must admit that while this is interesting, and definately has application for certain areas (technical books could benefit from being able to push errata out to people who had bought the book, certainlu), it is actually quite a disturbing idea. For one, even after buying a book, you’ll never own the book. Some would say you don’t now, but at least you could be certain that the words wouldn’t change between now and the next time you read it. Giving Authors the power to retroactively modify what they’ve written days or even years after publication would potentially take away from culture rather than adding anything to it.
Many fans of the original star wars understands this point.
For a literature example, take Anne Rice, author of many books regarding vampires and the supernatural, amongst other things, and now a born-again christian who has reportedly repented everything she previously wrote. Imagine she could, from her own free will or coercian, go back and change, or even delete, books that her fans previously bought because she no longer approved of them. Imagine if someone opens up an early Anne Rice, ready for a familar tale of vampiric despair and instead finds an uplifting chrstian moral story.
Thats pretty close to a horror story for some of Anne’s original fans.
We seem to be grasping for the new in this ‘Web 2.0’ connected world, and this is good. It will hopefully lead to some wonderful advancements – I know Facebook has put me back in touch with a lot of people I hadn’t seen in a decade or more. Whether or not thats a good thing remains to be seen of course.
We need to understand however that just because we can do a thing, doesn’t mean we should. Some things are -not- made better by newer and newer technology, regardless of what we technophiles might sometimes think
The idea of collaboration on a mobile device is particularly amusing. Thumbtouch keyboards are fine for short messages and even paragraphs, but you do not write entire novels, or even reasonable length stories on a thumb touch keyboard. I have been a writer, and always a tech, but never will I ever wish to write on a mobile device without something approaching a proper keyboard. I’ve seen some laser projection ones that look interesting, but nothing less. We already have a great medium for collaborative fiction – It’s called the Internet. Sites about where people are doing it, big business simply doesnt realise because it doesn’t make them money.
One last thing that no-one seems to have mentioned, perhaps its no big issue to the Americans but it would certainly lower adoption rates here. Rather than wi-fi, the device uses 3G like a mobile phone. One would assume it requires a mobile contract then to be used. So Amazon’s idea for lowering the price of books is to deliver inline advertisements updated daily… and for us to pay the connection fee to be bombarded with these ads as well? We pay for the privilage?
This is a bad idea hopefully going no-where. Bring on the next try, in the meantime i’ll stick to my PDA. It can read just about any format of ebook without having to worry about authors changing their minds -and- it has wireless. And bluetooth.
The future is now, if you want it.