I’m still sort of annoyed at Amazon’s self-serving press release about more ebooks being sold for the Kindle on Christmas Day than “real” books. I feel a few things
1. they’re creating a distinction that isn’t necessary, between ebooks and paper books
2. at the same time they’re obscuring the very very real distinction that exists and is terribly important: you do not own an ebook, you license or lease it
Plus I just plain old don’t believe it. I mean maybe it’s true for the narrowly sliced timeframe they’ve outlined but really? This isn’t a trend, it’s a blip. Want me to think otherwise? Release some actual numbers. Amazon makes more money off of ebooks than paper books. They’d like to keep doing that. So.
I’ve been meaning to link to this talk for a while, a transcribed talk that Cory Doctorow gave at the National Reading Summit in November. The title of his talk was How to Destroy the Book. I think you’ll enjoy it.
[T]he most important part of the experience of a book is knowing that it can be owned. That it can be inherited by your children, that it can come from your parents. That libraries can archive it, they can lend it, that patrons can borrow it. That the magazines that you subscribe to can remain in a mouldering pile of National Geographics in someoneâ€™s attic so you can discover it on a rainy dayâ€”and that they donâ€™t disappear the minute you stop subscribing to it. Itâ€™s a very odd kind of subscription that takes your magazines away when youâ€™re done [as is the case with most institutional subscriptions with Elsevier, the worldâ€™s largest publisher of medical and scientific journals].
Having your books there like an old friend, following you from house to house for all the days and long nights of your life: this is the invaluable asset that is in publishingâ€™s hands today. But for some reason publishing has set out to convince readers that they have no business reading their books as propertyâ€”that they shouldnâ€™t get attached to them. The worst part of this is that they may in fact succeed.