- By John C Abell , Wired, June 3, 2011
Sunday, June 05, 2011
5 Reasons Why E-Books Aren’t There Yet
There are no two ways about it: E-books are here to stay. Unless something as remarkable as Japan’s reversion to the sword occurs, digital books are the 21st century successor to print. And yet the e-book is fundamentally flawed. There are some aspects to print book culture that e-books can’t replicate (at least not easily) — yet.
Let’s put this into some context first. Amazon sparked the e-reader revolution with the first Kindle a mere two-and-a-half years ago, and it now already sells more e-books than all print books combined. Barnes & Noble, the century-old bricks-and-mortar bookseller, is being pursued by Liberty Media not because it has stores all over the place but because its Nook e-reader is the Kindle’s biggest competitor.
Reasonable arguments that the iPad would kill the e-reader seem laughable now, as both thrive and many people own one of each. One thing E-books and books are equally good at: In their own ways, they’re both platform agnostic.
But for all of the benefit they clearly bring, e-books are still falling short of a promise to make us forget their paper analogs. For now, you still lose something by moving on.
It isn’t always that way with tech: We rejoice at cutting the phone cord, we don’t fret that texting causes lousy penmanship and we are ecstatic that our computers, tablets and phones are replacing the TV set.
I’m not resorting to variations on the ambiguous tactile argument (“The feel and smell of paper is an integral part of the reading experience….”) that one hears from some late-to-never adopters. And — full disclosure — I have never owned an e-book reader, because I have an ingrained opposition to single-purpose devices. But since getting an iPad on day one, I haven’t purchased a print edition of anything for myself.
I am hooked — completely one with the idea that books are legacy items that may never go away, but have been forever marginalized as a niche medium. With that in mind, however, here are five things about e-books that might give you pause about saying good riddance to the printed page.
Fix these problems, and there really will be no limits to the e-book’s growth.