Thursday, October 27, 2011

Thoughts about ebooks

Ebooks really are the topic of the year: more and more thought about both the immediate practical issues and the larger issues are coming up in the blogosphere.

One of the major conferences for libraries and technology (Internet Librarian) just finished, and one of the attendees, Bobbi Newman, just posted a great round-up of links that came up in discussion. You can check them all out at her blog.

I'm really glad to see an increasing depth in the conversation, not just "More ebooks, yay!". I'm particularly glad that more and more people are digging into issues of ...
  • licensing
  • privacy
  • digital rights management (how you can share books, both with others, and simply within your own household)
  • and the implications for people who, for whatever reason, cannot or do not wish to buy.
A special shout-out here to author Seanan McGuire's post "Across the digital divide: let's talk about poverty" from last month, which is a powerful call to the benefit of physical, tradeable, shareable books (something that is currently true only in very limited ways with ebooks, if you want to read anything written at all recently.) It's got some fascinating bits in comments, too.

It's not that ebooks are bad - they're not.  I (like most people who read) am in general favor of more ways to read more awesome stuff.  (And I do read a number of titles in ebook version these days, rather than print.)

But they're not perfect, either.

And the things that are problematic about them (privacy, licensing, and access issues in particular) are going to continue to be complicated until readers, authors, and publishers can push through and sort some of those issues out, in a way that makes them truly accessible and effective for everyone. Until then, being informed about the issues is a great place to start - and those links on Bobbi's page are some of the best explanations out there on what you should know, and why you might care.

1 comment:

  1. I spent most of my adult life working with families who were living below the poverty level,and I've lived there myself - so I appreciate the perspective shared by Seanan McGuire. Without the public library, and books gleaned from second hand shops and yard sales, those lean years would have been a very bleak landscape for a voracious reader like me! Ebooks are great - for some - but we need to preserve the printed word to assure accessibility to the widest possible audience.