The Coming E-Book Tsunami
In this issue:
Rant:The ebook revolution is growing like a Tsunami. The biggest news of the week: floundering Encyclopedia Britannica, stalwart print pub for a quarter of a millennium, will change venues and become a free site on the Web, hoping to survive through advertising. Each time I try them at http://www.britannica.com, I can't get in and I suspect it's because their servers are overwhelmed…yup, I just got through and that's exactly what's happening.
IMHO, the greatest irony of all is that, as soon as the ebook takes its place in history, and the last trees are felled to make print books, the Britannica will reappear in book form, not made of paper, ink, and dead horses, but made of pixels and ASCII characters. Good luck, Encyclopedia Britannica! You'll do fine!
And now a word on encryption. The U.S. print industry, which has conglomerated until it's run primarily by foreign owners using U.S. lawyers and MBA's, hasn't "got it" yet… which is fine, because in the meanwhile the little ebook houses will have a chance to establish themselves and stick together so they'll survive when the print giants start stomping around with their giant hobnailed boots.
Here is why encryption is stupid. First of all, any hacker worth his salt will take it on as a challenge, or maybe a lunchtime diversion, to crack through whatever walls the print publishers put up.
Secondly, let's look at what happens with print books. Do you think that print books are designed to be read by only one person? Does a print book come with a kind of chastity belt so that the buyer is the only one who can enjoy it? No…when you buy a print book, if you enjoy reading it, you'll most likely pass it along to a friend to read. A book may be read by dozens of persons, but only one paid for it. Does that make the other readers criminals, thieves, hackers? No, of course not. This is a form of advertising that serves the author and the publisher very well. But here's the clincher: there are these things called public libraries, which are funded by taxpayer dollars; they buy a copy of a book for the express purpose of letting as many people read it for free as possible. And it's perfectly legal. Isn't that amazing?
The print publishers, like an elephant standing on a stool with crossed legs and closed eyes at the sight of a mouse, look rather silly right about now. That buys time for the little ebook publishers, who are springing up all over the Web, fueled by the excellent work of writers who couldn't get into the teeny little pipeline in NewYork. It buys them time to consolidate and band together in order to protect their position when the commercial print houses climb down from their stool. A further ray of hope: they will arrive with their size 48 hats, convinced that they know everything, because they've had absolute power in their pond for too long, and no doubt they'll stumble around falling over their feet before learning the ropes. While the cat's staggering around drunk, the little mice will have time to carry all the crumbs to their mouseholes. And in the end, the print giants will look just like the new ebook publishers.Voyage magazine
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