Sunday, February 05, 2006

An open letter to publishers

I've been riding this e-book horse pretty heavily recently, but this really is the future of book publishing.  Does this mean the end of paper editions?  Of course not.  Most people still prefer to read a real paper book, all things being equal.  But the thing is, not all things are equal.  Lately I've been trying to digitize as many things as possible, specifically my Albanian language study material.  Why?  There are lots of reasons I am growing to prefer ebooks over paper fact they are the same reasons everyone else gives:

  1. Portability - ebooks don't weigh anything.  I can read a book easily on either my IBM X41 Tablet computer or my Sony CLIE.  I almost always have one or the other with me. 
  2. Accessibility - they're always with you when you need them.  This goes beyond portability; the book is quickly accessible to me.  In fact, I can open an ebook almost as fast as I can pull a paper one off my shelf and open it to the correct page.
  3. Searchable - this is a  major plus of ebooks.  Last week I was writing to a blogger friend about the book, Naked Conversations,  I was reading.  I was looking for a particular quote about Buzz Bruggeman.  In about five seconds I had searched through the book and found the right quote.
  4. Mark-up-ability - Okay, this isn't a word yet.  Paper books can be scribble on, underlined, and notes can be taken.  But you can do the same in an e-book, depending on the software one is using.  With Adobe Acrobat, for example, you can highlight text and make notes about those highlights.  What's even better is that you can then create summaries of all your comments and notes, along with page numbers, etc.  Wouldn't have that been great when writing those college term papers?

Craig Pringle sums it up better than I in an open letter to publishers.  In his intro he says:

This post was inspired by my recent experiences around two books by Michael Linenberger.  I will hold this transaction up as an example but it is not in any way atypical.   This is not about any one author or publisher.  I have ordered Michael’s books and look forward to reading them.  This post is to everyone who writes or publishes a book.  It is an open letter and feedback is welcome and encouraged.


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