Friday, January 15, 2010

E-book rant

I just posted this rant in a reply to a post at the LISNews blog:

The term "e-book" is a misnomer. An e-book is not a book. It is a computer file. The whole infrastructure of reading is based on the book as a physical object -- including first-sale rights, allowing us (at least in the United States) to do with the physical book what we will, including reselling it or borrowing it from the library. Can you re-sell an e-book? Can you even copy it? An e-book simply isn't a book. Kindle giveth, and Kindle taketh away, as with the Orwell case. Buying an e-book makes no sense. For e-books, we need to move to a subscription model -- for $17.99 a month, you get access to a library, and then read anything you want. Or a library buys a subscription for $5,000 or $6,000 a month and makes the contents available to patrons, just as we do for journal articles through EBSCO or Wilson. Charge a premium for access to books in heavy demand. Make it like On Demand on cable or Rhapsody on the Web.

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