RE: e-books and heritage

Subject: RE: e-books and heritage
From: "Higgins, Lisa" <LHiggins -at- carrieraccess -dot- com>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 7 Jan 2000 16:52:19 -0700

>Regarding the long-term issues of using print or electronic 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
>itself imposes another.

I would argue almost the opposite. As an illustration, at least one gigantic
chain bookstore offers 20% off of everything currently on the NYT Bestseller
List. Smaller bookstores are going out of business in droves, which is
providing consumers with fewer and fewer options. It's enormously expensive
to print a hardcopy book, but it's equally inexpensive to print
eleventy-bajillion hardcopy books. With current print technology, it's more
profitable if everyone would just read the same fifty books all the time.

Electronic books, on the other hand, are cheap as heck to produce. I'm
assuming (I am not familiar with the rocket format) it's the printing
process minus the printing part.

>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
>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.

Well, I play music on LP when I can't find a copy of an album on CD. About a
month ago, I got the Dead Boys' Young, Loud, and Snotty, but I'm still
looking for the English version of Threepenny Opera and this one boxed set
of Richard Nixon speeches.

But it's not really the same thing. Hardcopy books don't require a device to
run on, though, like real obsolete technologies do. I don't think there's
any real danger there. I prefer to listen to CDs because the quality's
better. I'm very happy with them. I have no problem with it if I grow to
prefer electronic books.

I'm going to be like one of those old-timey people and tell a story about
back in the olden days, in the 1900s, back before the atomic pushbutton
world of today, what with the hovercrafts and robot maids and all that stuff
we have now. The concept of actually reading electronic media was new, and
it was just so cool! We could have customized, dynamic books that gave us
everything we wanted and nothing more! We could have whatever the heck we
wanted because bandwidth would be too cheap to meter! Freedom of the press
would be for everyone because presses would be free! Woo!

Here's the boring technical communication part now: We are sort of doing
this in our profession now. When we're not tied to printing costs, we can
give our users customized information, and it's quicker, cheaper, and easier
to get it to them.

I have a headache, so that's my big fat excuse if I'm being all stupid and
inarticulate, but I felt it was my duty to defend THE FUTURE here.

Your Pal,

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