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Subject:RE: e-books and heritage From:PHILA -at- Mail -dot- VIPS -dot- com To:TECHWR-L -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com Date:Fri, 7 Jan 2000 17:34:20 -0500
On the environmental issues, I agree with all of you who spoke for the
trees, offlist and on. As a former employee of an air pollution control
company, most of whose customers were pulp and paper plants, I am equally
aware of the impact of paper on the environment. There are other solutions
than denuding the wilderness, however: one is the use of recycled paper.
Several ecological organizations have ongoing letter-writing campaigns to
advocate this option; one is www.woodwise.org <http://www.woodwise.org/> ,
which is linked with Coop America.
Regarding the long-term issues of using print or electronic media...it will
take a long time to convince me that a cultural shift to e-Books will not
result in a further dwindling of what Roy Jacobson, in an earlier letter,
called the "information economy."
Which books are likeliest to be converted to electronic format? Obviously,
those that will sell. The dollar imposes one form of censorship; the culture
itself imposes another. I've seen a freebie mug from a major online
bookseller that bears the statement, "Some people are frightened by new
ideas. I'm frightened by old ones." I've heard the same sentiment from
teens, Gen-X'ers, and above: the literary equivalent of "Don't trust anyone
over 30." Take a look at the number of books published, and then a look at
the number of those books that are on tape. Then compare the titles and the
relative sales figures of those titles. How many copies of, say, Dante's
Divine Comedy or the Foxfire series have sold, as compared to, say, Danielle
(For that matter, is the Foxfire series still in print?)
It's not e-Books that frighten me; I agree, they're simply another medium.
What frightens me is, first, the limited range of authors and titles that
e-Books will be likely to offer; second, the factors that will determine
that range; and finally, the limited lifespan of what could conceivably
become the publication format of choice.
Obviously, at this stage it is not an all-or-nothing dilemma. Paper and
electronic media are likely to exist side by side very happily for quite
some time, as did LPs and magnetic tape. But looking down the road...how
many of you are playing your music on LPs, and how many on CD or DVD?
Blessed be the secondhand bookshops, libraries, and book-search agencies.
Phila -at- vips -dot- com <Phila -at- vips -dot- com>
(410) 832-8330 ext. 845