Wired’s Five Reasons Why E-Books Aren’t There Yet


First, to summarize the Five Reasons:

1) An unfinished e-book isn’t a constant reminder to finish reading it.

2) You can’t keep your books all in one place.

3) Notes in the margins help you think.



4) E-books are positioned as disposable, but aren’t priced that way.

5) E-books can’t be used for interior design.

And some thoughts —

#1 (An unfinished e-book isn’t a constant reminder to finish reading it.) I suppose for some people that could be true. That may also depend upon how an individual person uses the e-reading device: do they carry it with them as often as they’d carry around a printed book? Do they leave the e-reader under a pile of other seldom-used gadgets? The fact that your ebook can exist in more than one place adds a convenience factor; I rather like the ability of a book that I can read on my Kindle, and then can also read on the Kindle app on an iPhone.


#3 ( Notes in the margins help you think.) Writing in my books is probably the one thing I care about the most. I love writing in the margins, and no ebook is ever going to replace that for me anytime soon. I do think better when I’m writing in my books — it’s a way for me to actively interact with the words on the page. There is some argument to be made that ebooks enable easier copying and sharing of favorite passages, but still not as satisfying as putting pencil to paper.

#4 (E-books are positioned as disposable, but aren’t priced that way.) For another perspective, also from Wired: “Why Do E-Books Cost So Much?” This has more to do with the logics of the publishing industry than anything else. Possibly another topic I’m going to be revisiting later.

#5 (E-books can’t be used for interior design) I was originally going to put this in the ‘meh’ category, but broadly speaking, I agree. If we think of books as objects that physically inhabit the world — either to decorate a bookshelf, or just have as tangible, physical reminders about our experience of reading that book, then there’s something to that.

Sure, ebooks have room for improvement (as discussed elsewhere here), but when you look at the bigger picture of ebook history, it’s come a long way.

#ebooks

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