RE: Article: The e-book era is here (despite reports to the contr ary)? (Take II)

Subject: RE: Article: The e-book era is here (despite reports to the contr ary)? (Take II)
From: "Hart, Geoff" <Geoff-H -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 13 Sep 2001 14:56:45 -0400

Bruce Byfield noted: <<For a new technology to replace an existing one, it
has to offer something that the existing one
doesn't. Usually, that means that it has to be cheaper or better in some
fundamental way. So far, ebooks don't meet that criterion.>>

Good point. In theory, you should be able to sell an ebook for the cost of
the paperback, minus the printing and distribution cost, and that's not
generally being done. Certainly, I won't pay that kind of money for
something as ephemeral as an ebook; I've got a few 150-year-old books that
are every bit as readable as the day when they're printed, but I don't think
I've got any 15-year-old wordprocessor files I can still read. As for
offering something that existing technologies don't, I have to confess with
some regret that I began lusting after the benefits of ebooks this year when
Milady and I merged our respective libraries. Moving something like 100
boxes of books by ourselves, then unpacking them, made me reconsider just
how much I really loved those books. Heck, we're still looking for another
two sets of shelves to put away the last of the current collection, and
(alas!) there's a good book sale by the local literacy foundation, and...
Sigh. So many books, so little time. So, advantages of ebooks? Bringing one
ebook on vacation instead of 30 pounds of printed material sounds awfully

<<Don't forget, too, that the book-buying public is relatively small.>>

Depressing, ain't it? Yet publishers are still making money hand over fist.
The key to success is number of customers multiplied by the number of
dollars per customer, and that equation has been serving them very well
indeed over the past century or so.

--Geoff Hart, FERIC, Pointe-Claire, Quebec
geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca
"User's advocate" online monthly at

"How are SF writers like technical writers? Well, we both write about the
things we imagine will happen in the future!"--Sue Gallagher


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