This article Jason Pinter (though, previously this was attributed to Jessie Kunhardt) has a point, but he’s not really saying anything that we didn’t know. What he doesn’t address is the ways in which ebooks ‘could’ expand the reading market. Not only in the obvious ways – providing easy access (distributively) to texts, portability, searchability, the ability to attach notes – but also in less-obvious ways such as the ability when reading non-fiction to access pictures, maps, recorded sound, video even. More fundamentally, he doesn’t seem to have considered how much of the problems books may be having might be due to the fact that they are seen as the very ancient form that he lauds. (As do I, but then I, perhaps like you, am a confirmed reader and so value its very antiquity).
The current world of books seems to me to be too much focused on commercial considerations and not enough on the reader and the reader’s reading experience. At a time when diversity and ‘customer’ choice has exploded exponentially in other media, in books there is a narrowing down – the Dan Browns of this world come to mind… At a time when all the old monolithic systems of the various media are collapsing – when the limitation on the means of production, the production costs and the distribution constraints are all diminishing – books seem to be retreating in the opposite direction – stuffing up their traditional production systems with ‘blockbusters’, many of dubious quality. Instead of presenting the reader with untold riches, they present her with a few, grey offerings that her grandmother might well have scorned *grin*
ebooks could unleash a tide of creativity – a renaissance in writing… and the readers might well respond to this renaissance with joy and even relief.
when Jason Pinter says: “More readers — that’s how we save publishing. So get on it.” – what he is talking about – ebooks – could be the very salvation he is urging us to find.