On the demise of books, newspapers, music and movies

Information Week's Internet Evolution's just published my latest article, "Media-Morphosis: How the Internet Will Devour, Transform, or Destroy Your Favorite Medium" -- a noodle on the factors that led to the demise of newspapers, the transformation of music, and the potential destruction of big budget movies and mass-market publishing (and what can be done about the last one):
Big-budget movies (BBMs) require a lot of capital and rely on studios controlling the rate and nature of distribution of the finished product. If you're going to recoup your $300 million box-office turd, you need to move a hell of a lot of DVDs, TV licenses, foreign exhibition, Happy Meal toys, and assorted "secondary" revenues.

Let's be realistic here: Nothing anyone does is going to make it harder to get movies when you want them, where you want them, and at whatever price you feel you should pay for them (including free). And the harder you crack down on Internet movie-downloading, the more attractive you make buying pirate DVDs from criminals on the street -- a virtually zero-risk transaction that directly displaces DVD purchases.

What's more, no one has yet successfully crowdsourced a movie that looks and feels like a BBM. There are lots of fabulous 9-minute YouTube Inc. videos, and plenty of lovely and promising machinima flicks, but no one's yet built the kind of purely escapist, high-production-value feature that we flock to the cinema to see every summer.

Now, maybe film studios can do what Magnolia Pictures is doing -- distributing day-and-date releases to satellite, pay-per-view, cinema, DVD, and foreign film outlets -- and recapture a lot of the money that is squirting between the fingers of the tightly clenched release-window fist. But if it's not enough, commercially motivated BBMs might simply die.

Note that movies as a genre won't vanish. There's plenty to love about 9-minute YouTubes and the quirky features that come out of indie production houses. There's never been a time when more moving pictures were being produced and viewed than today. Many of these things are economic propositions, and many are not -- they're a lot more like stage shows than they are like films. They cost less to produce, they reach smaller, more targetted audiences, and they represent an admirable diversity of voice and point of view. But they're not Big, Culturally Relevant Media in the way that a real classic BBM can be.

Media-Morphosis: How the Internet Will Devour, Transform, or Destroy Your Favorite Medium


  1. The movie industry and the high prices around it are/were fuelled by the scarcity around obtaining movies. Limited supply.

    By striclty controling the distribution, they created a scarcity and could thus charge high prices for their products (the cost will be maintained or rise until the scarcity is broken)

    The ability to charge highly for the end product effected all parts of the movie supply chain (ultra-rich actors are a historical anomoly).

    I think what this means is yes, the 300million film is dead – not only because no-one would pay that much for a film (they cannot maintain the scarcity that allowed them to charge that much for their end-product), but also because it will no longer cost that much to make a similar film.

    There will still be feature-length films (saving technology changes our attention habits) – I think they will not include actors who demand million dollar salaries, and they will not distributed by bloated film studios with overpaid movie industry executives.

    Another bubble about to pop. Beware false profits.

  2. Not that I care much for BigBudgetMovies, there is a steady stream of good quality indie releases if you look carefully, but as to the other media, well they are still being run by people who belong to the Madoff era of Late Capitalist fraud and desperation.

  3. Media is dead. Long live media!

    (Seriously, it’s sobering to think that “new media”, once little more than a buzzword, is very soon going to be all we have left.)

  4. The movie and broadcasting business still has a lot of reserves and power to weild. Their distribution stranglehold is a bit like a protection racket. Mafia don’t give in so easily

  5. If only. The Dark Knight was both the most downloaded film last year, and the most successful at the box office – and already the 4th highest grossing film ever.

    So $300m sequels of remakes of movies of comic books live on. In fact they will probably become the only way for studios to justify their existence.

    But the low-to-mid budget indie film, the Being John Malkovich, Little Miss Sunshine, Reservoir Dogs, In the Loop, Station Agent, The Usual Suspects, No Country for Old Men, Pulp Fiction, There Will Be Blood, Magnolia, Shortcuts, Se7en, etc – ie independent films that are worth seeing very big – these films are really screwed right now.

    Unless downloaders start paying into a tip jar. Or the MPAA wins.

  6. Ah yes, the constantly predicted demise of ‘traditional’ media.

    Just like how movies killed theater and recordings killed live music?

    Internet-based copyright infringement is one thing, but actually killing an art form is something else entirely. Newspapers is one thing, novels are another. Newspapers have always existed for one sole purpose, which is to convey news. The rise of radio and television killed the morning-noon-and-evening-edition format of newspapers. The internet might contribute further to their decline.

    But books – the novel – is a unique art form. That’s going to stay with us for another few thousand years, I’d wager. I don’t really give much for the argument that we’re being ‘conditioned to read short blocks of text’. It wasn’t too long ago TV was supposed to kill the book (Fahrenheit 451, anyone?). And now TV is being supplanted by the Internet, which remains a predominantly text-based medium. I’d wager young people of today’s generation spend more time reading than any other generation in decades. How could that possibly be a bad thing for books?

    More importantly, you can make all kinds of practical arguments. But do they *really* matter? There’s nothing practical or convenient about art in the first place. I mean, how could you ever justify going to the opera? Why go through the trouble of reserving seats, traveling, etc, when you can stay at home and listen to a recording of much better artists performing the same opera?

    The problem with trying to make rational predictions about how people relate to art and culture, is that there’s nothing rational about that relationship!

  7. But books – the novel – is a unique art form. That’s going to stay with us for another few thousand years, I’d wager.

    Reading novels no longer requires books.

  8. The one about the ‘net “killing” TV is an odd one for me.

    I know people that say they “don’t watch telly,” but then they’ll say “did you see Lost?” or whatever. They saw it, of course, online. But surely the programme is the same no matter how it is delivered? In this example Lost is awful whether you watch on a TV, online or have a troupe of monkeys act it out. Actually the last one would be cool.

    But, really, do we get to hung up on how things are delivered to us now and forget about the actual artform itself?

  9. Alex M: newspapers have existed, since their beginning, as political instruments: the news was just to get eyeballs for the editorial content.
    They were competing with penny dreadfuls – 2-or-4-page story sheets, sometimes with pictures….true pulp. This is 17th and 18th Century stuff.
    The movies became what they were in the “Studio” years in the last great depression, when bankers took over the broke art-film studios and time-and-motioned them into the dream factories we now know. It should be noted that the movie business back then produced all kinds of short subjects as well, and that the programme at the movie theatre was, in its variety, like a night of TV.
    And Hollywood movies really did come close to collapse in the late 60s – only big increases in the sex/violence/sensation depicted got people back into the theatres: almost as an an accompaniment to the drug culture: which type of movie came to an end, with Ronald Reagan’s election, and the return of Hollywood to simplistic propaganda (feel-good movies) like Rocky, or Rambo.
    There’s still a strong whiff of propagandistic justification of state violence and its funding in all these “blockbusters”. IMO.
    But the big change over time has been the steep decline in relative cost to produce and distribute these media things: this is a technologically-driven process (and has ever been thus): this is how Murdoch got super-rich (break unions with automated presses), how Lucas obtained and maintains his position as great American film producer; and now, has produced the golden age of home theatre, where individuals can easily afford to watch hi-quality presentations of the best works produced over close to a hundred years of cinema in the comfort and privacy of their own home.
    A hundred years from now, using avatars, we’ll be able to produce our own shows/movies at home, which would cost millions to produce today: provided that the advances in tech, funded by today’s blockbusters and developed by the big movie outfits, spread out to and amongst the public.
    Judging from the history of special effect tech in movies, this will happen.
    Good old tech. Making what was once rare and precious into the common and cheap.
    And that is not a bad thing at all.

  10. One other thing. The vast profits earned by hollywood came in a nickel at a time:
    that is the way a “mass medium” used to work before the tech got better.
    They’ll still/always be around: but like bankers, their star is fading: it will never burn as brightly: but it really has not been burning as bright as it used to, since about 1932 for Hollywood.
    But if you can get 300 million people to each pay you a nickel for what cost you 0.5 cents, you will make money regardless of what you’re producing.
    That’s just mass marketing, not peculiar to media, though the media seems to get more attention in this regard. I suppose it’s because the raw materials used in the media business seem to be so inexpensive…

  11. I watch TV and do not “pay” for it. I tape it all and don’t watch the ads. I guess I’m a bit of a pirate in that regard. Alex M, let’s just hope we have paper books in the future. They really are a wonderful human creation.

  12. Word from my industry pals is that Credit Suisse has reduced loans so dramatically that we’ll see a 50% drop in ‘hollywood’ pics next year.

  13. Sabik: What doesn’t?
    redrihie: the medium is the message.
    Marxists, too, deny the relative value of content, versus form, in media analysis.
    OTOH, I have heard it said, in all seriousness, by an older one than I, that TV has not shown anything worth watching since the fall of 1961.

  14. We’ve had “novels,” in the sense of prose fiction, since at least the ancient Greeks, so that would seem a rather durable form, no? It’s outlived papyrus, codex, medieval illuminated book, and print, and thrives today in print and online.

    Novels are only “mass” media because they’re produced that way much of the time: all you really need is a brain and a pen to produce one, hence its durability.

    Books will still likely persist because they’re such inexpensive outlays of capital and labor…at least compared with the ongoing perpetual work that must be done to keep digital text “alive.” A book’s a one-off kind of thing that will live for centuries if done right; the Interwebz need constant management, tending, care, etc.

    @10, Canuck, Lucas got rich by being smart enough to realize that the $$$ wasn’t in box office receipts, but in all of the subsidiary toy, t-shirt, etc., rights: the first director to realize that the brand outlived the cinematic experience, a kind of perpetual wealth machine that could proliferate across all kinds of media. It wasn’t reducing costs of production per se, but in dramatically and radically reworking the sources of income from one’s intellectual property.

  15. Ugly, thie is why I love reading your comments.

    Sabik: What doesn’t?

    You and others around here, allow me the obvious that I never see.

  16. Ironic that there’s a post just below this one about an attempt at futurism that totally missed the mark.

  17. A little precision in these discussions helps. The penny dreadful was a Victorian rather than a 17th century institution, and it was more than a page or two. Perhaps Ugly Canuck is thinking of broadside ballads and Newgate criminal confession/retractions, which were 17th- and 18th-century institutions and really were short. The penny dreadful and the serialized story (which Dickens pioneered) were longer and closer in format to what we would recognize from the pulp period. All of these, along with the newspaper, were products of ever-cheaper printing technology and (in the 18th and 19th centuries) very big increases in literacy.

    The Golden Age Hollywood studios were not run by bankers but by Jewish entrepreneurs who came west with capital and a lot of chutzpah. Goldwyn, Mayer, Loew, and Zuckor came from the theatre business and got a lot of their clout from controlling these outlets. (It was the decoupling of production from distribution/exhibition that weakened the studios as much as television.) And Hollywood made terrific money after 1932.

    The long prose narrative is indeed an ancient tradition, but without a large literate audience it was an elite tradition. There was no mass-market audience for what we now call the novel until the 18th century, and it didn’t really get rolling until the 19th. Figures on reading habits suggest that the audience for conventional fiction has been declining–certainly my wife’s (university) students have very small experience with even popular fiction, as demonstrated by the problems they are having with Gorky Park. (And Jane Austen–fuggetaboutit.)

  18. And Re: Movies, isn’t Cory more predicting the death of the DVD/Rental than he is the Big Budget Movie itself? I mean, sure, I’ve had nights where some of us sit around and watch grainy YouTube clips and laugh our asses off, but that’s an almost unrelated experience to going to the cinema.

    A giant screen, a blaring sound system, a room filled with a hundred people – even some dude with a 73″ plasma can’t provide the experience of a movie theater. I don’t plunk down ten bucks to go to the movies because I think that’s the only way I’ll ever see that movie – I pay because I want to spend an evening with some friends in a way we’ll all be able to talk about the next day.

    Or I pay because I think it’d be fun to see a movie on a giant-ass screen with booming sound.
    Many people go to the movies just to go to the movies, and decide what they’re going to see when they arrive. For many, what the movie itself is is almost irrelevant.

    BBM’s have more going for them than mere distribution. Even if I had Watchmen sitting on my computer right now and I could watch it right now, I’d still go to the theatre to see it.

  19. Aelfscine: Agreed, the society of going to the movies is a big part of the draw, as in any live-audience attraction.
    After all they had their best box office ever last year, right?

  20. Also, with POD, books no longer have to be Mass Media. A great author should be able to earn their spot on a publisher’s list and be sold as digi or paper. The publisher would have to devote the time to editing, proofing and cover design. That seems doable. It wouldn’t be the old “flood the market” model, but it could still grow the market. What publishers might consider doing is to grow their ability to edit. If the editor’s list sells really well, it’s because the editor knows how to sniff out a good book. I really to think editors need to get more credit with regard to making a great book. For me a publisher is a validation stamp. A publisher like TOR means something for a reason.

  21. @#9

    “Lost is awful whether you watch on a TV, online or have a troupe of monkeys act it out. Actually the last one would be cool.”

    I like you, REDRICHIE. It will be long time before I can shake the image of a bunch of dorky monkeys wandering around that absurd island.

  22. @19, indeed precision helps, without the qualifier “little,” of course: a little precision is a dangerous thing, quoth Pope….

    Indeed, mass literacy has greatly helped the durability and proliferation of the novel and fictional prose narrative; but my overall point is strengthened, not weakened, by your point. For an “elite” tradition to have broken out so strongly across class and wealth boundaries, in addition to surviving so many changes in media and production methods, says a lot. And the ancient novels were hardly simply “elite”: while literacy rates in the ancient world were indeed low, prose works from Herodotus on were often performed in front of live audiences (an interesting hybrid audience and media of communication); Arthurian prose romances were both performed all across Europe and read avidly by newly literate commoners; in the Renaissance a lot of ancient prose fictions were translated into the nascent vulgar tongues of Europe: while not the cheap mass press of the nineteenth-century or today (“there was no mass-market audience” because there was no mass market), these editions catered to bourgeois readers, not just elites. And think of the explosion of prose fiction composed in the Renaissance: More’s Utopia, Rabelais, etc.

    Regarding your wife’s pedagogical travails, I find a similar ignorance among my own students. Sadly, their “popular fiction[s]” are of the digital and/or ideological sort….

  23. From the article:

    If you’re going to recoup your $300 million box-office turd, you need to move a hell of a lot of DVDs, TV licenses, foreign exhibition, Happy Meal toys, and assorted “secondary” revenues.

    Just a nit to pick, I think it costs studios money to get their toys inside a Happy Meal, I don’t think McDonalds pays for the toys.

    It would be an additional cost, not a source of revenue for a movie…

  24. You know, I hadn’t thought of it this way. Maybe having the $300M escapist movie die is a good thing. A lot of these movies teach us really wrong things about how the world works – bad physics, bad sociology, bad criminology, etc. I would be a little sad if they weren’t made anymore – I really loved the Matrix, and recently Eagle Eye was a lot of fun. But maybe it’d be okay.

  25. I just saw *Coraline* on a big screen theater in 3D, it’s way more than just a gimmick, the technology has improved so much that the film medium itself seems transformed; parts of the movie, I forgot I was watching a movie, because it felt like a lucid dream playing in my mind’s eye. Similar sensation with movies shown on an IMAX screen. Unsurprisingly, more and more Hollywood revenue is coming from IMAX box office and 3D-enabled theatrical screens. I doubt peer-to-peer Internet distribution is going to touch that. In fact, if you look at the movies that reliably make money in theaters, they tend to be those where the collective theatrical experience is part of the fun: Hollywood summer action movies, horror movies, teen sex/grossout comedies, kids movies. P2P can’t replace that either. What *will* change with P2P, in my opinion, are not Hollywood blockbusters, but movies that work better on a small screen or in an intimate setting: talky drama, low budget indy, foreign language, highly sexual, complicated storylines and serial franchises, etc.

  26. I remember being in Information Science classes (trying to get an AS in Library Info Tech, chickened out when student loans got over $20K, I’m poor) and my instructor, who is an otherwise very progressive, pro-technology sort getting very upset about my paper at the end of the first year talking about how libraries would eventually be a thing of the past.

    I’m not so sure anymore, but I’m pretty sure that the institution of libraries will be sustained for a while, but as information literacy gets to be more widespread, info wranglers like your average front desk library assistant will be less and less useful.

    Also, ephemera is heavy.

  27. Glossalia, I’ve always wondered if libraries could somehow fit into the drm/piracy debate – they are starting to offer more and more e-books, downloadable audiobooks, even downloadable music and movies. It might seem like a duplication of an already ‘free’ service, but it would mean someone was handling rights and compensation.

    As far as print goes, Canadian libraries already pay authors a public lending right fee.

  28. Glossolalia, for every person who is information literate and has access to the Web, there is another person scared to touch a computer, who must use an internet cafe to check their e-mail, who simply prefers print media to staring at a screen. I just helped someone who swore up and down to me that they could NEVER use a computer to search the library’s card catalog. As long as there are people who, either by choice or misadventure, do not have access to the Internet (or the current form of information exchange), libraries in some form will persevere, along with librarians.

    High, most libraries deal with a third party who supplies them with MP3s and other digital content at a price. The third parties negotiate with publishers for access to digital content.

  29. I imagine the major newspapers will morph into what are essentially wire services (like the New York Times News Service) and the smaller ones will disappear. I live in a mid-size city that looks like it will soon lose it’s only daily local paper. But there are already local news websites springing up, created by citizen journalists (some of whom actually have a journalism background). Now all they need is some advertising.

  30. #11 by Ugly Canuck

    I like the way you think.

    Back in the day, any big city supported several daily papers and dozens of newstand publications. The rise of the monolithic daily gobbled up all that diversity of opinion/information. Diversity of opinion/information is rising again all over the internet. My concern is that threats to net neutrality will cause history to repeat itself.


    My main “newspaper” is BoingBoing.

    My dear gray-haired old mum often told me of her childhood days spent in movie theaters with cartoons, newsreels, serials and double-features. With changes ever week!

    Maybe as the big dinosaurs die out they will be replaced by more and more small furry creatures and their independent endeavors!

  31. eBooks will not kill print books because

    1. books are cheap
    2. books do not require software maintenance
    3. books are permanent and stable storage devices that will be readable indefinitely
    4. books have no power requirements
    5. books can be transferred without concerns for hardware platforms or DRMS
    6. books are simple and straightforward to use without any training beyond basic literacy
    7. books do not require another, more expensive, device to read them

    Disclosure: The above list was borrowed from S Andrew Swann’s blog.

    My take: i’ve yet to find any believable argument that ebooks are better than print books in anyway at all. Why would anyone knowingly embrace an inferior technology (ebooks) over a vastly superior and proven one (print books)? Get over yourself, techies.

  32. @ TheMadLibrarian

    You’re right there. What people who use the web (like this) tend to forget is that it seems to be all pervasive throughout life merely because it is for them.

    Also, it’s worth noting that often in these debates there is a tendency for some to imply that the Internet automatically confers information literacy skills upon those that use it. Information literacy (and critical thinking) are necessary whether you are consuming print/audio/visual data and, print especially, has been around for a long time and even the advent of mass literacy did little to make *everybody* excellent critical thinkers. I see no reason to think that the final triumph of the Internet should alter this.

    I came on a good example of this recently whilst researching my MSc dissertation on web 2.0 in libraries when talking to one of the librarians, as an aside, about information literacy. She had been working with some digital native schoolkids on discerning how good a source is and they all thought that this:


    was a good historical source.

    What we need to learn to do is realise that there is a huge difference between being IT literate and information literate. Although, of course, part of the point of much of web 2.0 is that you actually need to have pretty much no technical skill to participate.

  33. TDAWWG: Lucas was not the first: observe the James Bond and Beatles marketing of the early and mid sixties: commercial tie-ins to the western stars of the fifties as well were not uncommon.
    Lucas did however take such tie-in marketing to a new level; but that was possible only due to the popularity of the flix, which in turn was due to their great special-effects and to their seriousness/respect for the sci-fi material. But mostly the effects, IMO.
    Foetus: Merci.
    Russell: I appreciate the correction: I had in mind the “Indian Captivity Tale” or “Account of the Shipwreck” style of publishing: these were a penny or less, and amongst the ephemera of the time – but you are correct they were not the “penny dreadfuls” properly-so-called of the later Victorian era. Plus, these one-page sheets were perhaps more common on this side of the pond.
    As to American film production, the NY bankers gained power in Hollywood in the late twenties/early thirties (that is they gained more power than they had had already): there was a rationalization of production. (Hi Joseph Kennedy! Hello ,Metro + Goldwyn + Meyer! hello 20th century + Fox!)
    There were financial reasons for the studio mergers: the time period I’m discussing is 1928-1932. It was after the bankers (and their front-man mogul allies) had taken over the finances that Hollywood turned the corner. But Hollywood always had to check with NY after the crash, more than they had previously. Zukor, Schreck et al. mostly stayed in NY and spent most f their time there. I have a funny feeling that some of the moguls (particularly Zukor) really did not spend much time in the dark watching movies at all. Like a distiller, who does not himself drink.
    But after 1929, the money was always in NYC. And it had to be consulted whenever Hollywood was thinking of doing something big (big=expensive, like building studio facilities).
    W. James: I agree that the advances in film tech will keep us going to the movies to see the latest.
    Movies shown in theatres have always been cutting-edge tech, and so long as that continues, we shall be going to theatres to see them.
    Glossoleia: Think of libraries as “info dumps” or (better) as “archives”. Public archives will always be around, as purely private archives are useless over a long enough time frame. Not to mention the ever-continuing need for working archives, eg Gov. or Univ. libraries/databases.
    Whether such libraries will be as tied to a physical location as they now are is an open question.
    On this point, my concern is that our electronic data storage is not sufficiently robust to fulfill the multi-century preservation requirements of our archives.
    We may focus so much upon the future that we could literally lose the past – as the data becomes unreadable or corrupt due to eg, changes in the physical media used for storage – at least acid-free paper can last for centuries…can your hard drives? Your optical discs? Your magnetic storage media?
    There is also the related problem of maintaining the tech to simply retrieve or play-back the info. The more formats, the more difficult (and expensive) this becomes, particularly over time.

  34. Russell: Hey I’ve come across more stuff about old Hollywood $$ matters, this time from the point of vie of investing into movie production today. It also confirms your statement as to Hollywood’s profit after 1932.
    Anyhow, the film discussion starts up after the discussion of Mr.Stanford of Antigua. I certainly do not express any agreement nor disagreement with any investment or economic advice which may be found in the linked article. It is FWIW; it may be of interest, or serve to amuse you while you beguile the time on a February Sunday afternoon or morning.
    I just find that it is interesting that the movie business of the 30s should pop up in my internet browsing on two separate and unrelated sites, in two separate and unrelated discussions. Weird. it must be Oscar day. Link:


    PS you younger people ought to really think about starting your pension saving, like, yesterday….

  35. @38, Canuck, you’ve got it backwards: Lucas secured the licensing deals as a trade off for box office recepits BEFORE the film came out. He presciently knew that the licensing of toys etc. would pay off so much more $$$ than the box office receipts: ironically, he was roundly criticized by insiders for so doing.

    Indeed, the popularity of the film drove the sales of toys and whatnot, but the extremely favorable deals re: toys etc. were secured well in advance of opening day.

    He wasn’t the first to cross-media market his IP, but he was by far the first to secure extremely favorable deals in doing so.

  36. Hey that’s interesting: Mr. Lucas was a savvier marketer than I had thought: I did not know the licensing/marketing of the original Star Wars was so pre-planned!
    And you are correct: Mr. Lucas’ costs of production have in fact been the highest of all: his very heavy use of new tech increases his costs. But that is mainly because he and his team has been the first to develop these effects.
    The point which I was trying to make is that tech is at the heart of Lucas’ success as a film-maker: he brought the sci-fi effects movie back from the grave, almost single-handed. His continuing success arises from his company ILM being at the forefront of developing new film effects tech. What Hollywood blockbuster does not use ILM effects? And the more this stuff is used in films, the cheaper such effects become for other film-makers to adopt/adapt.
    That is, I attribute Lucas’ success less to his marketing genius (which he may well have) than to his genius as a film technologist. And what made him a genius film-maker IMO was his embrace of special effects and the sci-fi film form. In turn, that required him to achieve advances in the technology of filmmaking. Which he has done, and his company continues to do.

  37. I agree with much of Cory’s story, except the part on eBooks. To specifically address a point from Cory’s article — when Stanza on iPhone is running, there is no interface to distract me. Just the book.

    Read John Siracusa’s article on Ars Technica:


    Here’s a pertinent part:

    Take all of your arguments against the inevitability of e-books and substitute the word “horse” for “book” and the word “car” for “e-book.” Here are a few examples to whet your appetite for the (really) inevitable debate in the discussion section at the end of this article.

    “Books will never go away.” True! Horses have not gone away either.

    “Books have advantages over e-books that will never be overcome.” True! Horses can travel over rough terrain that no car can navigate. Paved roads don’t go everywhere, nor should they.

    “Books provide sensory/sentimental/sensual experiences that e-books can’t match.” True! Cars just can’t match the experience of caring for and riding a horse: the smells, the textures, the sensations, the companionship with another living being.

    Lather, rinse, repeat. Did you ride a horse to work today? I didn’t. I’m sure plenty of people swore they would never ride in or operate a “horseless carriage”—and they never did! And then they died.

    The eBook, as read through Stanza on my iPhone, does not hurt my eyes, can be read in bed without an external light source, and is with me all the time, when fifty books are not. I read Little Brother entirely on my iPhone, in snatches of time in a car or elsewhere with a sleeping baby that a book was not handy.

    To re-express this: I love the results you get from a good digital camera, but I use my iPhone’s 2MP camera more. Quality as good? No. Instant gratification? Yes. Always with me? Yes. Memories recorded that would have been lost? Hell yes.

  38. Mad, my point was that when someone downloads a `free` book or movie from a library, artists still get paid. Doesn`t really matter if you`re using a 3rd party to purchase the rights.

  39. JeffConn,

    ..i’ve yet to find any believable argument that ebooks are better than print books in anyway at all. Why would anyone knowingly embrace an inferior technology (ebooks) over a vastly superior and proven one (print books)? Get over yourself, techies.

    How about:
    1. Searchable text
    2. Easily copyable/distributable
    3. Able to annotate and REannotate.

    I’m not making any value judgements of one over the other, but if you haven’t found even one reason to value ebook technology, then you haven’t been looking very hard, or very honestly.

  40. My sister in-law says they’re easier to read in bed and you don’t need to keep moving the book light. I wish I had one.

  41. I got an iPod Touch recently and have caned through the books since. I really wanted a proper eInk reader before, but the Touch is fantastic, and isn’t a whole separate unit, which is a lot handier for the bus.

    Seriously, personal-communicators and libraries-in-our-pockets. We are in the future!

  42. what’s the quadriplegic vote on ebooks? Should be a godssend if they have a interface for clicking “pages” with puffs or blinks.

  43. Well, there is already an Ocarina app on the appstore, that responds to blowing on the iPhone mic, for the notes.
    It wouldn’t be a problem to convert the same signal to turning book pages.

    The only issue might be the user’s ablility to get their mouth nearer the mic..

  44. Seriously, personal-communicators and libraries-in-our-pockets. We are in the future!

    Some of us are still waiting, but on the upside it is usually better to buy a used second or third generation. Trying so hard to look on the bright side of this mess.

  45. Used gadgets? Isn’t that like blasphemy :)

    Seriously though, 16GB iPod Touch, eBay $100.
    I know $100 doesn’t just lie around, especially when you have nippers.. but it’s certainly not an unobtainable goal.

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