Monks, Gutenburg, E-books

Cory Doctorow has written a thought provoking essay about how he thinks e-books relate to mass produced paper books and hand-copied books. This is not about the end of paper. That won’t happen any time soon. This is about freedom, copyrights, and new forms of distribution. Doctorow is an editor at Boing Boing, a SF author, activist and public speaker.

3 Replies to “Monks, Gutenburg, E-books”

  1. Cory also gives away electronic copies of his books and says that doing so does not hurt his ability to make money from printed copies. He says his problem is not piracy; it’s obscurity. And I suppose that makes sense.

    I suspect that he still makes money from printed books by appealing to those who still just don’t like to read anything electronically. But, I’d take a free eBook over a $30 printed copy any day.

    I also suspect that once these two conditions exist, he will stop making money from his books and will have to add to his alternative sources of income:

    1) eBooks are widely and available and readable on inexpensive and ubiquitous devices (as opposed to the currently high-priced Kindle.)
    2) The majority of consumers prefer to read eBooks over their printed counterparts.

    It’s hard to see how printed books can survive these two conditions.

  2. Even if e-book readers cost only a little more than a new bestseller, are very easy to use and have a battery life of months I still don’t think the majority of consumers will prefer to read e-books over printed books.

  3. I agree with you….for now. But some day I think electronic text will be so prevalent, it will be second nature, especially for those who will have grown up with it. And with new flexible displays, electronic ink, mini personal video projectors, etc., plus the cost of producing “legacy text,” I think the days of printed page are numbered. We’re already witnessing the slow death of the newspaper industry, in part, I suspect, because of the convenience of reading news on the Internet.

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