google editions

Google are potentially manoeuvring in a way that may make them the next Microsoft… that said, they tend to champion open standards (perhaps because they don’t need to control through proprietary formats, being as they aim to control the whole Web *wry grin*) – and I’m all for those. So I cautiously welcome the announcement that with Google Editions they’re going to compete with Amazon’s Kindle – that is a closed system and has already shown itself to be dangerous to ‘textual freedom’.

4 thoughts on “google editions

  1. That is good news, I think. If a major player throws its weight behind it, open standards may happen. Obviously, the makers of e-book/mobile devices must also adopt it, reading a book in a browser is only as good as the device is able to render the content.

  2. I would like to take this oportunity to ask you something if you dont mind. With the increasing popularity of these “e-book readers” the e-books themselves, as a digital file format, will probably become affected, like most of the things on the internet, by piracy and all sorts of copyright infringement. Of course the internet is also a good way to spread information about an artist work; it’s like a double-edged knife. As a writer what’s your opinion on this matter? Are you worried that someday book writers could face the same problems as music artists regarding piracy? Books have been our companions for centuries, almost unchanged; do you think that they are ready to become part of the internet?

    1. to guy: yes… though I don’t think many books are going to be read in a browser… rather in a stand alone ‘reader’ of some kind… One way of seeing what the open standard might be is imagining a book equivalent of mp3…

      to ludovico: of course I’m worried. However, the djinni is out of the bottle. The moment media are digitized, making copies becomes trivial. Also, because of the internet, distributing these everywhere becomes trivial. That’s where we are and there’s no point in crying about it *grin* Further, I would suggest that these very properties are an advantage, not a disadvantage, of digital media. EXACTLY the same kind of piracy is going to occur with digital books as with digital music. In fact, there is no essential difference between the two: both are just a string of “0”s and “1”s… (as are photographs and video)…

      So, where does that leave us? Well, in the first place it leaves us in a completely new world. Before this digital revolution, the physicality of media (books, vinyl records, cds etc) meant that it was expensive to reproduce the media object. Further, it had to be physically moved from the place of production to somewhere where its consumers could get their hands on it… This is why ‘publishers’ were necessary. With digital media, publishers become unnecessary… And who is that is making the biggest fuss about piracy? You guessed it, the publishers…

      It seems to me that two things matter in the new digital world. First, how the ‘artists’ who make the music, books etc get paid for their work. Second, how the consumer finds his/her way to this work. This latter function could be performed by something like a publisher’s ‘marketing department’ – clearly a much smaller role than before. The problem is how to pay the ‘artists’… There is currently only the old, publisher-driven mechanism for doing this… What we need is a new system. I’m sure one will arise – if it does not, most books, music etc will simply disappear, and I don’t imagine that this is what people want… However, and this is a big however – the period of transition could well be painful…

      Finally, to address your question: are books ready to become part of the internet…? My answer is that it’s going to happen whether they’re ready or not. What’s happening in digital media is like the tide coming in. This is not something that can be resisted… Further, it’s not something that we should even be wanting to resist. Although it poses many challenges, it also promises MANY opportunities… not least that all kinds of creative work – especially books – can suddenly be available everywhere – and, potentially, affordable to everyone… It seems to me that this is as much of a beneficial revolution as the liberation of books from being hand copied by the printing press…

  3. Thanks for your answer Ricardo, that was all I wanted to hear ^^

    You’re right, we shouldn’t fear the change, we just have to make the best of it. After all we can’t stop evolution. I just hope that the good old book, in its physical form, doesn’t become a rare thing and consequently turning into some kind of very expensive luxury item. In my opinion a book is something special; I really don’t know why, maybe it’s the smell of it or the touch of the paper or even the sound of a page being turned ^^ We will have to wait and see what the future brings.

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