Saturday, May 1, 2010

Thinking way too much about e-books

I’ve been lukewarm about the whole e-book concept for a long time. On top of the hassles of a book in file form, there just a certain value in something being tangible.

Now I’m starting to realize that electronic publishing is the solution to the type of problem I assume kept Marshall McLuhan up at nights.

See... He's thinking about it.

It’s my personal belief that all media should be readily accessible. I don’t mean free per se, but capable of being acquired at a reasonable cost.

There’s an untold amount of books, movies and such that are either out of print, making them very difficult if not impossible to get, or were never released in your home country at all, making them even hard to acquire and likely not translated into a language you read.

For example one of my favorite anime franchises is Full Metal Panic. Along with three different TV series there are 2 different manga series and 3 of the original light novels released here in the west.

But at the same time, there are 7 light novels, 10 short story collections and about 20 volumes of manga that have never been released in North America; and unless they make another anime or restart the abandoned live action remake with Zac Efron probably never will.

You were my only hope.

That problem is the sort of thing e-books could fix. Without the financial and physical limitations of printed books publishers could better cater to niche audiences and release tons of previously inaccessible material.

At the same time it’s occurred to me that on top of lightening my shelves, electronic books would also kill off the used book market.

The reason I have so many books and DVDs and the like is because I buy almost everything used.

Re-selling an e-book isn’t allowed and even though $10 for an e-book is much cheaper than a new printed one, it’s still far more than the $4-5 I’ll spend at a used bookstore or Amazon marketplace.

So the difference is between greater access top media and less freedom to use it.

The only questions are where the balance is and whether the trade off is worth it.

No comments:

Post a Comment