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Re: Creating 'the Last Book' to Hold All the Others
- To: BOOK_ARTS-L@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
- Subject: Re: Creating 'the Last Book' to Hold All the Others
- From: Thomas Larque <thomas_larque@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Thu, 9 Apr 1998 14:39:29 +0100
- Message-id: <199804091345.GAA21130@SUL-Server-2.Stanford.edu>
- Sender: "Book_Arts-L: On the web at http://www.dreamscape.com/pdverhey" <BOOK_ARTS-L@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
I wouldn't be as quick as some people have been to write off the electronic
book described in the article that was posted.
If the "book" really does everything that they want it to do, and - in its
final form - has a charge of several hours, and doesn't weigh much more
than a standard book, then once the price has fallen (after mass-production
sets in) it will almost certainly mean a rapid end to most of the
disposable book forms. Why go to the shops to buy the latest trashy
bestseller if you can download it from your own home in seconds, and would
only have read it once anyway? And as a child, I would have appreciated
having all my textbooks together in one electronic book - instead of
breaking my arms every morning lugging a dozen heavy textbooks into school.
Again, you grow out of school textbooks, and don't usually keep them after
you've finished with them anyway.
However, if you want a book to be easily accessible, and in particular - if
you want a book for study or reference, then an electronic book is not
going to be all that useful. If you want to look up a word in one book,
you need the original book and a dictionary open at the same time. If you
are going to compare two texts - for study, or any other reason - then you
need both books open at the same time. If you are going to have to
purchase half-a-dozen of these electronic books so that you can scatter
them around your desk as you work, then it might just get a little
inconvenient. And both specialist and art books will always survive, even
if just for curiousity value.
However, there is a risk that those who do not share our bibliophile
obsessions (including the love, as somebody suggested, of the ways that
paper decays) then book publishers will slowly cut back on their paper
publishing. If only a minority want it, then costs of individual books
will go up and up and up.
Paper books will never disappear, but eventually - hopefully not in our
lifetimes - they may become an expensive luxury item.